Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Thoughts of Autumn

Ravings: I have mixed feelings about autumn as a season in general. I love the leaves and the crispness in the air, but I hate the impending feeling of doom it brings. For us Clevelanders, autumn is just a fast track to freezing cold, dark and grey, miserable winter. There are some perks of winter, like my neighbors staying inside their houses and fuzzy socks, but other than that it’s just something I endure! Autumn, however, I like to relish a bit. The smells and colors of autumn are breathtaking. The smell of a crackling fire or brightly colored crunchy leaves in a big pile. I wish I had a picture of the Basketeria stand at the West Side Market. There are the heirloom tomatoes of all shapes and colors, the dark purple sweet peppers, the saturated orange of the pumpkins, the dark green acorn squash, the fleshy butternut squash, and the bright rainbow colors of chard. It feels like a place of infinite possibilities! Good think I always make a list. Then those hues turn into yummy goodness, filling the house with aromas of smoky earthiness. Autumn is the time for thick, creamy soups and dark rich stews. This is the time of year when my crock pot gets a workout. What’s better than filling that bowl with all those veggies, some broth and some herbs and letting the house fill up with smells of onion and garlic and mushroom and rosemary!? This is making me hungry!

Cravings: After all that talk of autumn vegetables, this meal will fit right in. I cut a butternut squash in half, cleaned out the seeds (which you can roast like pumpkin seeds, btw) put a bit of water in a microwave safe dish and put the 2 halves in the microwave on high for about 10 mins. Peeling butternut squash is one of the worst tasks in the kitchen. I am surprised that I still have all of my appendages each and every time I complete this task. So this was my attempt at trying to make this task easier. It worked, to a degree. I didn’t have to wrestle with it, but it still wasn’t what I would call easy. Anyway, after the microwave I just let it sit for a while to cool off enough to handle.

Once I was ready to start dinner, I got out a great big skillet, sautéed some diced red onion, threw in some chopped rainbow chard, stems and leaves, and then added the cubed butternut squash. I then added about a cup of stock (I used vegetable stock because CJ is a vegetarian and when we do veggie night, I do it all the way so he can enjoy what we are eating as well), and a handful of dried porcini mushrooms. I then sprinkled in a little ground red pepper, some black pepper and some salt and then added a couple leaves fresh sage and a couple sprigs of fresh rosemary, both chopped. I also added a big tablespoon of some hot pepper mustard that my sister made. It simmered, covered, while a fried a couple pieces of bacon (for Jason and I). I served it in big bowls, sprinkled with the crumbled bacon and some grated parmesan cheese. So yummy and warm and full of autumn!

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