Fall is my favorite time to cook. We have an abundance of high-quality, low-cost ingredients on-hand and I feel good about spending the time to actually putter around in the kitchen with them. During the summer months, when our gardens are at peak production, we eat well…but without much time invested. We harvest what’s ready and slice it, grill it, roast it or steam it and that’s pretty much the extent of things. There’s very little baking, very little time actually spent making something out of all of those amazing ingredients.
Once most of the harvest has been frozen or shelved, though, things are different. I can feel good about spending time on actual recipes, dishes that have multiple steps–making sauces, layering flavors, taking the extra time that has eluded me since April or May. Plus, the temperatures are cooler and the heat from the oven doesn’t seem quite so insidious. Instead, it beckons me with aromatic memories of crusty breads, hearty meatloaves, tender briskets and caramelized vegetables. Sigh.
Today has been such a morning. I’ve been turning out food left and right: maple-glazed butternut squash, chili-rubbed sweet potato fries, sausage fajitas, oatmeal-jam bars, chunky applesauce. Almost all of these things have major components that we raised right here on our little hobby farm, and it just feels really good. Whether the food is staying here or being taken to folks with new babies, I feel like it has been a labor love. Truly.
I confess that I did not feel so warm-and-fuzzy six weeks ago when I was sweaty and exhausted and sore and dirty almost all of the time. There were many nights that I wished a pizza fairy would delivered a highly-processed-hot-and-ready pizza pie directly to my tailgate so that I could wolf it down without having to even leave the garden. And, from past experience, I can tell you that I will not feel quite so rosy about our homegrown fare once March rolls around and we are down to the ever-present frozen corn, canned green beans and stewed tomatoes. But, even then, it feels good to not have to think about what’s for supper. It feels good to live well within our means. Even then, when we sit down to vegetable soup or green beans, sausage and potatoes for the fourth time that month, I am thankful. Ever-conscious of having so much more than so many others. Ever-grateful for the land, the energy and the opportunity to grow good food for my family and friends.
Now, though, we feast with friends and we feast with family, sharing the beautiful, flavorful bounty of another abundant season. Thank You, Lord.