Shades of November

by forumholitorium

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When I’m lucky, the sun comes out, casting shadows on the wall, shining directly into the living room and reaching its luminous fingers out to welcome me back to life after a good night’s sleep.  The darkness has overtaken the light, making me savor the sun more and more and bury myself deeper under the covers in its absence. I don’t need to leave the couch to feel the march of the seasons’ cycle. But I do, of course, because what is better than a brisk walk on a crisp fall day, being careful not to slip on the wet carpet of leaves clinging to the sidewalk? Besides, I now have a creamy oatmeal colored sweater to keep me warm. I knit it up with an alpaca-merino blend yarn salvaged from the discount pile of a local yarn store. A friend carved the wooden buttons from a broomstick.

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There are two autumn palettes. Early fall is fiery and warming, the orange of pumpkin and squash and the red and yellow of leaves. Late fall is less vibrant and more subdued. Life dries up, fades, balls itself up, retreats inside where it is warm, saves energy. Breakfast: a bowl of oatmeal with a drizzle of maple syrup. Dinner: white bean spread with garlic to boost the immune system, hearty boiled buckwheat groats, and braised Savoy cabbage with chestnuts.

Longtime readers will remember my dabbling into cooking with cruciferous vegetables. With my shift away from dairy to plant sources of calcium this year, I have embraced the crucifers wholeheartedly and am eager to try any recipe that comes my way. In the dark ages when I still wrinkled my nose at most brassicas, I nonetheless found Savoy cabbage to be one of the most attractive looking vegetables. Now both eye and tongue enjoy feasting on it.

Last night I struck gold with this simple recipe. I read a blog post that cited an 84-year-old poet who spoke of three lessons she had learned in life. Two are “Be astonished” and “Share your astonishment.” Well, I’m astonished at how well the ingredients blend together, and now I’d like to share it with you.

Braised Savoy Cabbage with Chestnuts

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2 Tbs olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced

1 head of Savoy cabbage, sliced as you like it

200 g/7 ounces boiled chestnuts, halved or quartered or crumbled

1 Tbs white wine vinegar

2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp salt

Sauté the onion in the olive oil on medium-low heat until translucent. Be patient.

Add the cabbage and sauté briefly. Add the chestnuts, vinegar, oregano, and salt. Cover and simmer for about 40 minutes. Check every now and then, giving it a stir and adding water if it starts to stick to the pan.  Be patient.

When the cabbage has softened to your liking or your impatience gets the better of you, eat. Enjoy!

The other life lesson cited by the poet is “Pay attention.” I think these deer do a good job of that. They know whenever I am looking at them. What lessons in life do you have to share?

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