The Lifestyle of Simplicity in Food and Human Nature – Autumn
As autumn rolls around, and the summer leaves flutter to the ground, stores stock up on Halloween decorations, and ice cream shops start making pumpkin flavored ice cream, the weather in Sonoma County and the rest of the Russian River area becomes slightly colder. It isn’t the cozy cold of that you could identify as fall weather that could be felt all around less than ten years ago. The California drought has decreased contrasts in the four seasons. This is one of the contributions to the end of the real fall experience. However, 2015-16 is an El Niño winter which means weather will reach drastic extremes.
But for the past weeks, fall here hasn’t been very different from most.
Across the world, there always has come a time for the harvest. The crops have given up their bounty to the people, and the sun shines down on them as they turn back into soil ready for the rebirth of spring. The weather turns increasingly cold. And the people and animals prepare for winter, stashing their food, and keeping it reserved for when snow batters the sides of their home.
Nuts are shelled, seeds are dried and roasted, meat is salted, vegetables are pickled, and the food is stored. Winter is a time for toning down, huddling up, and keeping dry from snow, rain, and frost.
With the contribution of global warming, and the availability of food all throughout the winter, it is hard to recognize the feel of autumn around us. Here are some recipes to give the feeling of autumn back to the air:
Butternut Coconut Soup
By Rebecca Bell Black
In this recipe, butter and lard can be used interchangeably. Lard will give the soup a richer flavor.
Large pork bone
Three quarts water
1 butternut squash (approximately 2 pounds)
1 garnet yam
3 small round potatoes
2 medium carrots
10 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
1 medium yellow onion
1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled
Lard and/or Butter
2 teaspoons Italian seasonings
2 teaspoons dried pepper flakes
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 can coconut milk
Grated hard, sharp cheese such as Pecorino or Parmesan
Optional: bits of crispy bacon for garnish
1. Place three quarts of water and a pork bone in a large pot. Add salt and Italian Seasoning.
2. Cover, bring to boil and reduce to simmer. (Use a bone or bones that are large enough for you to easily fish out later.)
3. Carefully slice the butternut squash in half. Scoop out the seeds. Set the squash, fleshy side up, in a 9 x 13” baking dish.
4. Make 4 or 5 little slices in the flesh of each squash half. Place small dabs of butter or lard on the slits.
5. Slice the yams and potatoes into chunks, about 2 inches cubed. Do not peel the skins.
6. Place the yams, potatoes and peeled garlic in the baking dish with the squash.
7. Place in oven at 350 degrees.
8. Peel the onion and chop it into thick slices.
9. Slice the carrots.
10. Heat a saucepan. Add butter or lard once it’s hot. Add the onions and carrots. Sautee over medium heat.
11. Once the onions are soft and transparent, add them, along with carrots and any remaining liquid lard or butter, into the broth.
12. Chop the ginger into bits and add to broth.
13. Let the broth simmer and the other items bake for an hour and a half.
14. Scoop out the flesh of the squash, to separate it from the skin. Add the squash flesh to the broth.
15. Add the yam, potatoes, carrots and garlic to the soup.
16. Add the pepper flakes, cinnamon and nutmeg.
17. Add all the coconut milk.
18. Simmer on very low heat for a couple of hours. Stir occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the bottom. (Alternately, if you have an oven-proof soup pot, you can move it to the oven, set at 250, and let it simmer in there, where it will cook more evenly.)
19. After a couple of hours, remove the bones from the soup.
20. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
21. Puree the soup using either a hand immersion blender (my favorite kitchen tool) or a conventional blender or food processor.
22. Ladle into bowls and garnish with grated cheese and optional bacon bits.
23. Serve hot.
Alternative for Thanksgiving leftovers
If you have leftover squash, yam and potatoes from your Thanksgiving dinner, you can modify this recipe, using the leftovers along with bone broth from the turkey or ham bones to make a post-Thanksgiving soup; with less work than described above.
Lillian Black is a writer and political blogger, and helps on her family’s farm in Petaluma. She raises her own flock of chickens, and writes about them too. She loves cats and is being homeschooled.