In case you didn’t know, I am a bibliophile. I do have a B.A. in English, after all. Nothin’ (except maybe a strong caffeinated beverage) gets my heart a-racin’ like a big stack of books. I’m like a kid in Willy Wonka’s factory in a library or bookstore… or anywhere with well-stocked bookshelves, really. However, I think that my favorite book-y locale is a good ol’ fashioned used book sale. You know the type, the Friends-of-Such-and-Such-Library-Quarterly-Book-Sale type deal where you exchange a few crumpled dollar bills for a towering stack of books. I stumbled across one such sale last month and exercised an extreme amount of self-control, only buying a few books and a couple of old maps and box of stationery (for $1!!!). But since then, I’ve had a hunger – a desire, a craving! – to waste time browsing the stacks, to pile a basket high with cheap, well-loved tomes, and to generally satiate my bibliophilic urge.
Today I finally got to do just that, at another used book sale held by the same organization. Oh, it was heaven. I spent $6.25 and came away with a stash of language books (Hebrew! Italian! German! French!), more maps, more stationery, and novels. Lots and lots of novels.
Doesn’t that just make your heart happy? Mine is singing with joy. Most of those cost just a quarter. Isn’t that ridiculous? A quarter! I was particularly pleased with the Canterbury Tales, because I have a rather embarrassing Chaucer collection and I always like adding to it with another version of the Tales. This is a prose version, and I don’t think I have one of those yet! So exciting. That bibliophilic urge? I don’t think it’s satiated so much as kindled! Ah well.
I also managed to snag a few old copies of Vegetarian Times magazine. As I perused the October 2008 edition, a recipe for the charmingly-titled “Spicy Fall Stew Baked in a Pumpkin” caught my eye, and I decided to channel that idea and create something similar for my own dinner – Cinnamon & Spice Squash Stew.
My stew shares barely anything in common with its VT cousin, other than the fact that it is baked in a winter squash. It’s a mish-mash meal, comprised mostly of CSA veggies and some Black Japonica rice my parents brought when they visited this summer. It’s also a hearty, warming dish full of autumnal veggies, and I washed it down with a cold glass of apple cider. It seems a little silly to provide a recipe for something so full of random ingredients, but I’ll do it anyway – just for posterity.
Cinnamon & Spice Squash Stew
1 acorn squash
1/2 cup uncooked Black Japonica rice
3/4 cup cherry tomatoes*
3/4 cup chickpeas
Small bunch of leeks, chopped into small rings
1 clove garlic, diced
Small pat Earth Balance
Generous sprinkle cinnamon
Dash crushed red pepper
Salt & pepper to taste
Toasted walnuts (optional, but delicious!)
Cook rice according to the directions on the package. While it’s cooking, chop up the veggies. Melt the EB and then sauté the garlic and leeks until soft. Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, and spices and let simmer. Preheat the oven to 425 or so. Meanwhile, slice the top off the acorn squash and remove the seeds and stringy bits. Place the squash into a pan filled with a little water (you might need to chop a bit off the bottom of the squash so it’ll stay upright in the pan). When the rice is done, combine it with the tomato-chickpea mixture and spoon it into the squash. Place the sliced-off top back onto the squash, put it into the oven, and roast it for 45 minutes or until the it’s soft and tender inside. Remove from oven, top with toasted walnuts, and enjoy! You can eat it straight from the squash or spoon it – along with the squash! – into bowls.
*I used a handful of frozen cherry tomatoes – when my parents visited, they gave me a huuuge basket of tomatoes from their garden. So I threw a bunch of them (3-4 lbs, maybe!) in a freezer bag, and now I just pop ’em into recipes as needed! Works like a charm.
Do you write down random recipes you create on the fly? How about book sales – are you into them?