Friday, October 28, 2011

Autumn is icumen in

Food appetites and preferences shift gears with the approach of colder weather. What causes this shift – the drop in day-length? Why does it happen – to fatten us up for the winter?
While I am sure that “studies have been done,” a conclusive understanding no doubt remains elusive. This is a good reason to get out of the academic grove and head into the kitchen to cook a hearty autumnal meal.
My first clue that autumn was upon us, was an unexpected wild craving for roasted root vegetables – Brian Jaques’ “Redwall Cookbook” suddenly stood out on the cookbook shelf as if spotlighted. While my first autumn feast was not out of those pages, it was certainly inspired by Jaques’ twee but tasty recipes, such as “Mole’s Favourite Deeper’n’Ever Turnip’n’Tater’n’Beetroot Pie” ! We’ll call my meal a cabbage and potato roast-up – no apostrophes were harmed in the making of this dish.
At Ludgates Farm Market I purchased a small head of purple cabbage and a pound-plus of Finger Lakes fingerling potatoes. I cut the cabbage into quarters, put it in an ovenproof pan with a bit of olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and a small amount of water, covered the pan and roasted this glorious item for at least an hour at around 400 degrees F.
Meanwhile I washed, dried and cut in half the small potats and put them in a glass oven pan with fresh rosemary, salt and pepper, and a few Tbs of olive oil – mixed it all up and roasted it uncovered for 20-25 minutes at 425F. An Epicurious recipe suggested scattering a few Tbs of balsamic vinegar on the finished dish and re-roasting for a couple more minutes – intense favor enhancement!
These handsome, deeply-flavored, aromatic and comforting items lasted me three days – first as a one-person feast; then as side dishes for other happy, home-cooked meals.
The second autumn-craving dish has a name with capital letters: Two-Bean Turkey Leg Chili. It needs improvements – it is a tad heavy on the digestive system – but sure tastes good. I soaked black and pinto beans together with olive oil and garlic. I added about ten more cups of water and simmered, adding a (defrosted) turkey leg left over from our Canadian Thanksgiving, a half cup of uncooked brown rice, and a 15 ounce can of Mexican tomato sauce (hot). Whew!
After 1-2 hours I had me a warming, (spicy), satisfying, but heavy dish – best savored in small bowls with a green vegetable side-dish. Following these two mad forays into midwinter, I ate salads for two days in a row.
The photos show the finished cabbage and potato roast-up and the Two-Bean Turkey Leg Chili, which I ate out of an original Bledsoe Batware mug.


oliverio said...

I noticed a dramatic uptick in the amount of potatoes and stewed veggies I've been craving. But then again, 'cold weather' here means 65 degrees with some sprinkles.

Hilary Lambert said...

I was actually wondering if that was happening to you. Your day length varies a bunch less over the year than ours as you are closer to the Equator.