...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.


Introducing Spring...

Louise Erdrich's beautiful bookstore where I found a book that's rocking
my local food world.
It's supposed to be 55 degrees F here today and I'm just giddy.  There's laundry in the machine right now that I'm planning to hang completely outside today.  We hang a lot of laundry in our basement all winter so it's really the thrill of the peaceful calm of hanging wash on the line in the morning that excites me today.  It's my therapy.

My daughter's on spring break this week and yesterday we finally started some seeds--mostly brassicas.  She played in the composted potting soil, planted a crayon garden, and helped me make labels for my seed starting containers while I prepped the egg cartons I use to start seeds.  I realized I'm not as far behind as I thought I would be.  Whew!

Upon returning from an awesome 4-day getaway to Minneapolis with my husband, where we ate and walked until we dropped, I was really looking forward to a home-cooked meal so I've jumped right back into cooking this week.  If you've been following this blog for any length of time you know that this time of year that I get a little squirmy because I'm trying to use what local food we have left in the pantry and cellar rack.  I've certainly bought plenty of food at the grocery store this winter, but when it comes to what we can buy locally my farmers are still providing winter squash, onions, carrots, beets, rutabaga and the like since ours have run out.  Last night I pulled a butternut squash out of the cellar and came up with this recipe.  I'm trying to run with my urges lately--I knew I wanted to make something with the squash, but I also wanted to incorporate some oats and other supplementals for a nutrient-packed crust.

Winter Squash Crumble (Gluten-Free)
As you can see I made some jam yesterday too.  We finally ran out so I
grabbed some frozen berries and made a batch of freezer jam to get us into
strawberry/rhubarb season soon.
Serves 6-8

I served this as a side dish.  It's not too sweet, but something about it tells me that I could also throw a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on top and have it for dessert.  It's one of those dishes that will get kiddos to eat squash--in case that's ever been a problem for you.

2 lbs. winter squash like butternut, acorn, kabocha, peeled and seeds removed
Salt and black pepper to taste, just a little
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
4 T. unsalted butter
1 T. olive oil
1/4 c. pure maple syrup

Crumble Topping:

2 T. jaggery powder (a little more info here and see note below), brown sugar could be substituted
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. salt
4 T. all-purpose gluten free flour
4 T. gluten-free rolled oats
2 T. chia seeds,
2 T. hemp seeds
2 T. flax seeds
6 T. cold butter, cubed

Preheat oven to 375F.  Grease a 9x9 glass baking pan.  To cut the squash, either slice thinly (1/4" thick) or cube evenly (1/2" cubes).  I sliced mine quickly via the food processor.  The slices were more irregular, but it doesn't matter when it's all put together.  Toss the squash with salt, pepper, and cinnamon and set aside.  In a small saucepan, heat the butter, oil, and syrup.  When it's melted, toss with the squash and pour into the prepared baking dish.

Don't bother with layering the slices like a gratin.
Combine all topping ingredients except the butter.  Mix well.  Cut in the butter either by hand or with a pastry blender.  Sprinkle on top of squash and place in oven.  Bake about 35-40 min.  Test with a knife for doneness.  If you can pull the knife out easily, the squash is cooked.

Generous topping packed with nutrients.
It was good.
Note:  jaggery can be found in solid or loose form.  I purchase it at an Indian market, but it can also be found in solid form as piloncillo at Hispanic markets.)

Speaking of cooking by urges, I found this lovely book, The Flavor Thesaurus at Louise Erdrich's Birchbark Books on our trip.  It

's going to change my world this summer as I cook from the garden and farmers' market.  I often stand there with a couple of random veggies/flavors in hand wondering what I can make.  This book offers a lot of leads to being more creative with flavor combinations.


  1. After seeing your jam jars on the counter with your squash, I decided to make some jam too. I followed your blueberry (without mulberries) jam recipe as posted in 2011. Delicious! Probably boiled for too long, as I only made 3 half pints. Have you ever used a fruit juice as a sweetener? Tracey

    1. Hi Tracey: Haven't used fruit juice, but have certainly used honey or xylitol. I don't recommend using xylitol for every sugar need as it can give one flatulence, but it works as a great natural substitute for white sugar and has a much lower glycemic index than honey. This season I will try to post some jam recipes using just honey. A direct substitution is not recommended, it can be ever so slightly tricky to get just the right consistency so it's not gummy.

      Enjoy your weekend. Sandy said it'll be a good month before they're in the field. :(

      :) Annie

    2. Ok, thanks. I am following your blog now and will watch for more recipes. Never heard of xylitol for cooking, but I see you frequently use it. Interesting side effect...stay dry...tracey