I Wean

By Jen Cartier


Verb: 1. Accustom (an infant or other young mammal) to food other than its mother’s milk.
2. Accustom (someone) to managing without something on which they have become dependent or of which they have become excessively fond.

I am excessively fond of the holidays. After I spend days on end eating too much, I can’t just go right back to my normal eating habits. It doesn’t work. I get cranky and irritable from the lack of indulgence my brain and body became used to. I’ll want to smoke ten thousand cigarettes, but, because I’m constantly trying to quit smoking, that doesn’t work either. The only thing there is to do is make conscious and concerted efforts to wean myself off of the glory that is feasting, and to do it before I have to buy all new pants.

Our great editor, Sara Calvosa, once said to me, “Never doubt my commitment to hedonism, I’m incredibly French.” And I feel the same. Indulgences are a part of what makes living great. Let’s not shun comfort. Let’s stay on course with the snuggling up on rainy days and eating good food thing, letting ourselves down gently. It’s only kind.

Here’s a great after-thanksgiving recipe. It’s a chutney that can make your leftovers very happy. Serve it over pork tenderloin or try it on sandwiches. Its should help you get on with the weaning:

Butternut Squash and Apricot Chutney

1 butternut squash
2 tsp. dried sage
1 cup chopped, dried apricots
2 red onions, small diced
2 to 3 cloves of garlic, minced
Olive Oil
1 cup vinegar (substitute apple cider vinegar, if you like)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1 Tbsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. ground ginger (use 1 tsp fresh ginger, of course, if you have it on hand)
1 cinnamon stick
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Peel the skin off with a vegetable peeler and cube the squash into 1/2 inch squares. Toss with olive oil, sage, salt, and pepper, and roast in a 350 degrees F oven for about 30 minutes, or until cooked through – easily pierced with a fork, but still firm enough to hold their shape.

While the squash is cooking, chop your apricots and onion and set them aside. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan and cook the chopped onions until caramelized. Add the garlic and sauté about thirty seconds. Add the vinegar to deglaze the pan, scraping any browned onion bits off the bottom of the pan so they become part of your lovely chutney.

Add the sugar, pineapple juice and spices and cook over medium-low heat until all the sugar has dissolved. Add the chopped apricots and cook until thickened and bubbly, 20-30 minutes. Add the roasted butternut squash and salt and pepper to taste, stirring well. Store in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

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Jen Cartier misses Chico! However, she has taken to the great beyond (er...The Bay Area) to be some kind of chocolate maven while simultaneously figuring out how the hell to navigate her long-ass work commute, and still kick ass at raising three munchkins, loving one soon-to-be husband, and keeping one rascally Brittany Spaniel in the damned yard. She loves Nutella, red wine, and American Spirits. She takes her dog along on runs to wear him out (sometimes he shits in someone else's yard - bonus!) and also to balance her own general consumption of all the fine tasty things life offers, ciggys included. Follow her blog at riceflourmemoirs.com