The past two days have been nothing but stress! I live just outside of Washington DC and I have been here for the past 20+ years. Over the past two decades I have seen all kinds of weather phenomena come our way but somehow lately the frequency and the intensity of storms hitting the Metro area seem to be increasing at an alarming rate. Two or three years ago we were hit by a two-punch mammoth snowstorm, last summer we got a freak Direcho wind storm and yesterday we were hit by what was being termed by most news channels as the Frankenstorm Sandy! As soon as this last storm was predicted, the entire Metro area went into frenzy-mode – gas stations had lines of cars, grocery stores ran out of water, bread, milk and other essentials and hardware storms had a run on batteries, flashlights, and generators. Of course, being a foodie, my first thought went to what food items I need to stock up on; but then the last time I had stocked up on food, I had been forced to throw away two refrigerators full of supplies because we lost power within the first ten minutes of the storm. To make matters worse, my neighborhood is an old development where all the power lines are overhead and there are huge mature trees that always cause us to lose electricity. Most year round I love the trees and greenery but each time a freak storm hits, I start to fear them. With each storm, we lose huge trees (completely uprooted) as well as large tree limbs and each time we lose power.
Yesterday’s storm was predicted to be of gargantuan proportions and we were sure that we’d lose power as soon as it hit our area. So I did not buy any groceries and decided that somehow we had to manage with what we already had in the refrigerator and the pantry. Also, this is the first year when both my kids are at college and so I am trying to break my habit of buying the entire supermarket and instead buy supplies in small quantities.
We spent the whole day cooped up in our basement with our three dogs, expecting to lose power any minute but we were surprised by a “halloween miracle” – despite the storm being very strong and scary, we did NOT lose power! This morning when I woke up, I saw a lot of leaves strewn all over our street but somehow that was all the damage that we sustained. New York City and New Jersey were hit way worse than our area and I was so relieved that our area was spared. But the reports had predicted much worse for us and when I drove around today, the whole city looked like a ghost town – NOTHING was open (not even a MacDonald’s or a Starbucks!).
True to my resolve, I decided that I had to cook with whatever I had already available at home. So I looked in my pantry and found some cans and I looked in my refrigerator (which I had insisted on keeping scantily stocked) and I found a butternut squash. After a couple of minutes of internal brainstorming, I decided to experiment – to make Thai red curry flavored butternut squash soup. Yes, it was a slightly weird combination but I had very little to work with. After an hour of cutting, roasting, cooking I was shocked by how good the soup came out – I am surprised no one has ever thought of this combination before. I have to patent this recipe – it is that good! I am in heaven! It is the perfect spicy hot soup to have on a cold, rainy, gray and depressing day!
1. 1 butternut squash
2. 1 can of Thai red curry paste
3. 1 can of coconut milk
4. 1 medium onion
5. 1 cup of vegetable or chicken stock (I couldn’t find any organic chicken stock that I usually have in my pantry, so I made some fresh vegetable stock with an onion, two celery stalks, a few ripe cherry tomatoes and a few carrots)
6. A few springs of Thai basil (which somehow survived Sandy’s wrath in my backyard) for garnish
7. 2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive oil
8. Salt to taste
1. Heat the oven at 350 degree Fahrenheit.
3. Wrap a cookie sheet with heavy duty tin foil and place the cubes of squash on it.
4. Drizzle one tablespoon of olive oil on the cubes (mix with both your hands so that the oil covers all the sides of the squash pieces) and place it in the oven for 30 minutes.
5. After 15 minutes have passed open the oven and turn the cubes over and place them back in the oven.
7. When the squash is roasted, take it out of the oven and set it aside to cool it down a little. In a large pot heat, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over low heat and add the diced onions to the pot.