Winter-into-spring delights

The Recorder. March 11 2015. Mary McClintock.
Hooray for above-freezing-during-the-day-below-freezing-at-night temperatures, the definition of maple sugaring weather! It seems like a late start to sugaring season, but hopefully, these conditions will continue so our sugaring neighbors — who are even now trudging through deep snow to tap trees and bring us tasty maple sweetness — have a productive season.

Maple syrup used to be considered the “first crop” of the agricultural year in Massachusetts. With many farms now extending their growing seasons with greenhouses and hoop houses, it feels like the Massachusetts agricultural year now goes year-round. I was glad to get fresh spinach from Gloria and Ervin Meluleni of Coyote Hill Farm in Bernardston last Saturday at the last winter Greenfield Farmers Market of the season and to see local greens at Green Fields Market.

Anticipating maple syrup-covered waffle breakfasts for upcoming weekend mornings, I was happy to see that Kyle and Natty from Bostrom Farm had bacon from their grass-fed pigs at the Farmers Market. Kyle asked whether I wanted the standard cut of bacon or shoulder butt bacon. I’d never heard of shoulder butt bacon and asked what the difference was. They said it’s cut from a different part of the animal, costs and tastes the same, but is meatier and doesn’t shrink as much when cooked. Evidently, half of their customers ask specifically for that cut of bacon. I said, “Sure! I’ll try it!”

Want to try it yourself? Bostrom Farm will be at the Greenfield Farmers Market when it opens for the summer season on Saturday, May 2. Until then, look for their grass-fed beef and pork at McCusker’s Market in Shelburne Falls or contact them at 413-772-3732 or

As we continue in what Matt Howell ( calls the “fifth season” of using up food we stored from last year, I was thrilled that my Conway friend, Meg Burch, sent me this tasty soup recipe.

What winter-into-spring delights are you enjoying?

This week we’re eating …
Curried Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
By Meg Burch, Conway

I found this recipe on the internet and messed about with it. The original recipe calls for peeled/cubed squash. I roast the squash because I hate peeling it and like the flavor better when it’s roasted. I get apples from Apex and they’re open into April. I usually use Macs but the soup is still good with apples from a bag of mixed seconds. This soup is good with El Jardin (or similarly yummy) bread and cheese on side, a mixed green salad, too.

2 T. unsalted butter

2 T. extra virgin olive oil

4 C. chopped yellow onions (3 large)

2 T. mild curry powder (I usually measure these generously, but I also really love curry)

5 pounds butternut squash (2 large)

1 1/2 pounds apples (4 apples)

2 tsp. kosher salt

1 /2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 C. water

1-2 C. apple cider (taste first to see how sweet the soup is before adding full 2 C. of cider — you don’t want apple flavor to overpower everything else)

Cut squash in half, remove seeds and roast until just tender, but not too soft. (I usually place on lightly greased cookie sheet and bake in 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes). When cool enough to handle, scrape squash from skin and set aside in bowl. Warm butter, olive oil, onions, and curry powder in large stockpot uncovered over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until onions are tender. Stir occasionally, scraping the bottom of the pot. Peel, quarter, and core apples. Cut into chunks. Add squash, apples, salt, pepper, and 2 C. of water to pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook over low heat for 30 minutes or so, until squash and apples are very soft. Puree soup in blender or with hand-held food processor until uniform consistency. Add apple cider (or additional water) to make soup the consistency you like; the soup should be fairly thick. Salt and pepper to taste.