Feed the Body, Feed the Soul: Seasonal Autumn Feasting
September 24, 2012 in Uncategorized
In the Bay Area, we’re blessed by generally mild weather, clear skies, and sunny days; so sensing the passing of the seasons is more subtle than in other parts of the country. Sure, you see a few trees starting to look a little less green, although they don’t truly change colors for a while yet, but for me, I always notice the sunlight. There’s a period in Early to Mid-September, where – even in the middle of the bright Sun-shiny Afternoon, you look at the quality and character of the light and you feel that Autumn is coming; is in fact here.
Homeowners will clean out their gutters, in preparation for the fall rains that will surely be here soon. You’ll find yourself heading home a little bit earlier in the evening, as seven or eight o’clock just doesn’t seem quite as early as it did a month or so ago. And of course, at the Farmer’s market, we’ll be saying good-bye to some of our summer favorites, and welcoming in the new harvests of fruits and vegetables that we haven’t seen since last year.
Grapes are in full swing, apples and pears are a regular sight, persimmons and pomegranates are showing up, and the first of the hard winter squash are starting to appear. Delicate greens make way for hardier kales and cabbages. Although, it’s not just what’s available at the store or farmer’s market, because with our longer growing season there are many summer fruits and vegetables that are available much later than is typical in other part of the country. So as the light changes, and the season becomes more manifest, I find myself craving those heartier fall dishes, beans, potatoes, soups and stews, even if, in our little part of the world, the weather hasn’t quite caught up with the idea that it’s supposed to be cooling down.
With all the variety available in Northern California there are so many food options available in September. However, for the sake of this article, I’m going to focus on the traditional foods of the harvest, such as grains, apples, grapes, pomegranates, beans and squash; foods that symbolize hearth and home, thanksgiving, and of preparation for the coming cold season.
If you’re looking for something to bring to your Harvest Dinner, Mabon ritual, or other celebration, here are a couple of suggestions that bring a sense of Autumn to me, and can be easily made ahead of time, or in just a few minutes, such as:
- Apple Slices with Homemade Caramel Sauce
- Make an Apple Crisp and Serve with Ice Cream
- Peel (if necessary) and remove seeds from a hard winter squash (Butternut, Acorn, Pumpkin, etc) cut in to chunks, toss with olive oil and salt, roast in 350° Oven until tender. Serve with Creamy Parmesan Polenta
- Make an Autumn fruit tray, with slices of Apples, Persimmons, Pears, Grapes and Pomegranate Arils, serve with cheese and crackers
If these suggestions don’t sound super appealing, any of your favorite Thanksgiving dishes will generally translate to a Mabon celebration. Think stuffings, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, corn bread, etc… All of those commonly traditional dishes will both connect you to the energy of the Equinox, and will also allow you to combine your family and magical traditions.
Homemade Caramel Sauce
- 1½ cups Sugar
- ½ Cup Butter (1 Stick – Room Temperature)
- 1 cup Sour Cream (Room Temperature)
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- ½ tsp Kosher Salt
- Place the Sugar in a heavy saucepan, over medium heat
- The sugar should begin to melt, liquefy and caramelize – shake pan (or gently stir with a non-conductive spoon) if it appears to be getting too hot in places.
- Once the sugar has completely liquified and caramelized, remove from heat
- Stir in the butter.
- Once the butter is completely incorporated, add the Sour Cream, Salt, and Vanilla.
- Allow to Cool, store in refrigerator. Should keep for 1-2 weeks (if it lasts that long!)
- 7 Apples; Cored and Cut in to 1” Chunks
- 4 tbs White Wine (For the Apples)
- 1 Cups Brown Sugar (For the Apples)
- 1 tbs Butter (For the Apples)
- ¼ tsp Kosher Salt (For the Apples)
- 1 Cup Rolled Wheat or Oats (For the Crisp)
- 1 cup Flour (For the Crisp)
- 1 cup Butter – Softened (For the Crisp)
- ½ tsp Kosher Salt (For the Crisp)
- Preheat Oven to 350°
- Butter a 9”x13” Baking Pan
- In a medium bowl, mix together the Flour, Rolled Wheat, ½ tsp Kosher Salt.
- Add the 1 cup of Butter to the Dry ingredients and mix to form soft crumbs
- Set Aside
- In a Large skillet, melt the remaining tbs of butter over medium heat.
- Add the apples and stir
- Reduce heat and cover, simmering until apples are tender – 5-10 minutes
- Stir the remaining cup of Brown Sugar, Kosher Salt and white wine in to the apples
- Spread the apple mixture in to the prepared baking pan
- Top with the Crisp Mixture
- Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until crisp is Golden Brown and Apples are bubbly.
Creamy Parmesan Polenta
- 4 cups Broth or Stock
- 1 cup Coarse Ground Cornmeal
- 1 cup Finely shredded Parmesan Cheese
- ½ cup Milk
- Kosher Salt
- In a large pot, bring the Broth or Stock and a generous pinch or two of Kosher Salt to a boil.
- Pour the cornmeal in to the boiling broth in a steady stream, whisking constantly
- Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, until Polenta is nearly tender
- Add the milk to the polenta and continue to simmer until polenta is cooked through and just beginning to set up.
- Stir in the Parmesan. Cover and remove from heat until ready to serve. Will thicken on standing, so if you want it to stay creamy, don’t let it sit too long.
Del writing for Pagan Newswire Collective Bay Area