The fact that it is 84 degrees in the front yard today hides the fact that it is autumn here. We're having some unseasonable warm, dry weather after September's deluge, and it has revived all our spirits.
The blast of warmth allowed the tomatillos and ground cherries to flourish, and both are now dropping off the vines.
In the summer, we fire up the grill most of the time, and slice up vegetables and some mozzerella drizzled with a little balsamic vinegar for a salad. It's simple, quick, tasty, and keeps the kitchen from heating up. Aside from our weekly bread making, the oven rarely turns on from June-September.
But this week, despite the heat, it is back in action - roasting tomatillos so that I can make salsa verde, turning some apples that developed soft spots into an old school recipe I found for boiled cider pie (I'll let you know how that one goes, but it smells wonderful), and dinner tonight is Congo Chicken Moambe, a recipe I tracked down when I hosted some recent refugees from the Congo for dinner, that has now entered our regular rotation of meals. It's simple and delicious.
It's a pleasure to be in the kitchen, although I have taken several opportunities to go outside today and enjoy the sun, but since Sander and a friend are helping take down branches and small trees around the property, the adorable one and I have been shooed inside for a good chunk of the day. The Topsfield Fair is still going on, which makes it a pain in the arse to go anywhere (at least, to get to the park, or most local farms, which are the only places we might want to go), and after a few busy weekends, I'm not exactly sad at being stuck in the house.
There's another reason that I'm cooking as much as I am today - we have an overnight guest tonight, as a very old friend is the Blacksmith at the fair, Carl having ditched IT work for something that makes him infinitely happier. As he's been pulling 12 and 13-hour days at the fairground, we've offered crash space, and we all know that pie at 11 pm followed by croissants at 8 am are just the thing when you are blacksmithing all day. Or at least, that's my theory.
I love this time of year. Besides the occasional batch of green salsa, the preserving of food work has dropped off significantly. We have to keep a close eye on all the food we do have - potatoes, onions, and squashes don't last forever, so we have to check daily and use up carefully - but aside from the general chores that all of us have in life, such as cooking, laundry, cleaning up the house, and my least favorite, ironing, we are able to kick back, have friends over more often, and even sleep in.
Pretty soon we'll have our cord of wood delivered, and can start enjoying nightly fires. I'm ready for fall and winter - for the end of yard work, and for putting the garden to sleep finally, until the seedlings get started in the dark of late February. I like all the seasons, to be honest- I think that gardening helps me like even the months that aren't all that pretty. March is ugly, but it's seedling time. April is wet, but the flowers start to come up, and we can plant peas. January and February are good for hibernating and catching up with friends.
But now it's cooking season, and the pie is ready.