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Category: Recipe

Complementary Carrots

Since orange complements blue across the color wheel, it is fitting to eat orange while knitting blue. Orange was on the menu this week in the form of soup made of leftover roasted pumpkin, carrots, and red lentil pasta. Lentils gel when cooled, so each time I reheated the leftovers, I added some water to thin it to soup consistency. The pot ended up lasting the entire week and to be honest, I threw away the last spoonful because after five days, I just couldn’t stomach any more creamy orange soup.

Now that the soup pot is empty, I can start over again. The next batch will be Simple Soup – not creamy and pureed but a spartan yet substantial broth. First, heat the water. When it has come to a boil, add sliced carrots and diced potatoes. When they are done, throw in tiny pasta shells or orzo plus a teaspoon each of marjoram and thyme and boil until the pasta has cooked. Salt and pepper to taste. That’s it.

What is that on the left? A ball of charcoal merino/alpaca seems to have wormed its way into the knitting bowl of blue! Ah yes, those delicate cabled mitts I’ve been meaning to knit for the past three years are taking shape. Here’s to discovering a skein the right color and texture in the sales bin yesterday. The teal socks are stalled as I reconsider knitting spiral socks. My feet are warm in my pair, but the socks sag around the ankles, making me wonder if it is a good pattern to give as a gift after all. The indigo yarn decision has been made: a pullover is in the works. And the merino/silk cowl is a good practice of patience; you can’t beat having to frog and redo 280 stitches to correct a mistake in the lace pattern. I tried something new: I wound my first center pull yarn ball by hand. It looks goofier than the result with a ball winder, but I like it. The teal really brightens my day.

May you enjoy a nourishing bowl of soup and a dash of complementary color this week!

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Putting the Finishing Touches on Winter

As of yesterday, it is officially spring: daylight will soon trump darkness. Thick wool scarves should give way to thin scarves and hats and knee high socks should disappear until fall. In three months’ time it will be all linen and sandals. After a week of spring temperatures and sunlight that sent me out on many a walk in the clement weather, nature has thrown a bit of a wrench into the order of things. It’s cold again, and yesterday was one of the coldest first days of spring on record. I’ve been making the best of being back indoors by finishing up a few winter projects. Pictured above is a small purse I will use to hold business cards and other desk supplies that size; below is a close up of the button band of a large cardigan that after three months of sporadic knitting is finally done. Since the weather was too cold for a nice walk, I celebrated the start of spring by learning a technique for sewing buttons onto knitwear.

For thousands of years, buttons served as decorations. Though the ancient Greeks and Romans used buttons as fasteners, it wasn’t until the Middle Ages that buttonholes and functional use of buttons became widespread in Europe. I never really learned how to sew buttons well and have winged it in the past, often choosing to secure cardigans with a wooden pin made by a family friend. But as an inveterate cardigan wearer, I figured it was time to expand my finishing repertoire. In most cases, a buttoned cardigan keeps out the cold better than a simple pin. And it was time to bring the winter cardigan project to a close in more ways than one.

Lemon slices are round like buttons. My palate is ignoring the cold and has spring fever, yearning for the freshness of herbs, lemons, and leafy greens like spinach, arugula, and dandelion greens. Last week I discovered a delicious recipe for focaccia with rosemary, olives, and lemon slices. Prepare your favorite focaccia, oil bread, or pizza dough. Drizzle the dough with olive oil and top it with 1 Tbsp dried/4 Tbsp fresh rosemary, a handful of olives, and one or two sliced organic or unsprayed lemon (with the seeds removed). Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and then pop it in the oven for as long as the bread recipe requires.

Happy spring!

The Parsimonious Onion Greets Winter

A while back I wrote about how stubbornness need not be viewed negatively. While cooking down onions last night, the word parsimony came to mind, one of those words I have rarely heard anyone say but know from reading. In the beginning, parsimony was not tarred with the connotation of stinginess, of miserliness. It simply meant frugality or thrift and was derived from the Latin parcere, to be sparing, to refrain from or to economize. Cheap and easy to store for weeks on end, onions are a parsimonious vegetable. Just one can add a basic layer of flavor to any vegetable dish. Whenever I sauté vegetables, I inevitably start by sautéing onions for 10-15 minutes before the main actor makes an appearance. A couple of months ago, we bought a big 10 kilo / 22 pound sack of onions for a mere 4 euros. My original plan was to make a lot of onion jam, but that didn’t happen. Instead, we have had a constant supply that will peter out in a couple of weeks, coinciding well with our departure for the holidays.

Last winter I discovered a recipe in The Moosewood Cookbook where onions play a starring role in a sauce paired with pasta. A modified version graced our table for dinner last night. Cooked buckwheat groats, which are very warming on a cold evening, replaced the pasta, and we used up most of the rest of an open bottle of white wine “bought” using frequent flyer miles. The handful of arugula was thrown in for free at our local greengrocer’s – it pays to be a regular customer. And TC gathered the walnuts himself this fall. A thrifty yet very filling meal.

Onion Sauce with Buckwheat

4-6 medium sized onions, sliced

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup / 125 ml white wine

One bunch of greens (here arugula), chopped

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Cooked buckwheat groats (125 grams before boiling)

Sauté the onions in olive oil on medium-high heat for 15 minutes. Add salt, lower heat, and sauté as long as you like but at least 15 minutes. Add white wine, turn heat back to medium-high and sauté another 15 minutes. Add greens and cook 5 minutes more. Stir in walnuts and buckwheat. Serves 2-4 depending on how hungry you are.

My needle case knit from part of a skein of yarn dyed in onion skins is finally done. It was a good challenge – not the knitting but the finishing, which demanded that I learned how to properly sew in a zipper, first backstitching and then basting. This tutorial was very helpful. Perhaps there is hope for me yet as a seamstress. Adding the zipper is one small baby step toward being able to sew. Matching the needle case well, the candles are TC’s masterpiece. He bought a candle mold and used the beeswax stubs of last year’s Advent candles to fashion new ones that will outlast than the Christmas season.

Though there is a lot to be thankful for, this Thanksgiving rings a bit hollow because I am not able to spend it with my family, which for me is what Thanksgiving is about. I am thankful, however, that I will be able to spend Christmas with them. And there is something important to celebrate today: the promise of winter, the shift from the gold and orange autumnal palette to the grey and white sheen that covered the land and sky this morning as the first snow of the season arrived.

Take pleasure in observing the colors around you and spending time with people whose company you enjoy!

Shades of November

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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?

Squashsitting


One benefit of not traveling when summer is well on its way to fall is that you might be asked to look after a garden and told to help yourself to whatever is ripe. That is the position TC and I have found ourselves in this week. Our friends have a plethora of summer and winter squash and apples, apples, apples, so the kitchen has been the site of much action. The apples have been cooked down to compote or applesauce (depending on where you draw the line). The butternut squash has been made into Squash Pockets filling and paired with buckwheat groats. The strawberry leaves will add an accent to future cups of tea. And the yellow and green zucchini and pattypan squash have gone into two batches of the recipe below. This new addition to my summer culinary repertoire makes for a fast, easy, tasty meal.

Indian-style  Summer Squash

1 tbsp olive oil

1 kg / 2.2 lbs summer squash (green and yellow zucchini, pattypan), cut into fat matchsticks

1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp diced fresh ginger

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp ground chili pepper, paprika, or (for those not up to hot) coriander

salt

black pepper

1  heaping tbsp almond butter, tahini, or peanut butter

Fresh basil

Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the cumin seeds and cook until they darken. Add the ginger, turmeric, and chili pepper and sauté a minute or two. Add the squash, stirring to cover it with the spice mixture. Add some salt and a few tablespoons of water if it starts to stick to the pan. Cover and stew until cooked (at least 10 minutes). Grind some black pepper to taste. Stir in the nut butter of your choice. Sprinkle with fresh basil and serve with rice or buckwheat groats.

 

The recipe mine evolved from calls for a mix of zucchini and bulb fennel. Carrots would also make a nice variation. The past few months have seen me preoccupied or obsessed (once again depending on where you draw the line) with nutrition, and what’s interesting is that you never hear much about the health benefits of zucchini – not like nutrient-dense veggies like kale (vitamins K, A, and C – AND fights cancer!), carrots (vitamin A!), Swiss chard (vitamin K!), or sweet potatoes (vitamins A and C!). Why do we hear so little about this ubiquitous favorite of gardeners? Well, there isn’t much of a case to make for zucchini as a superfood. Zucchini provides modest amounts of vitamin C, manganese, copper, and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which are both good for your eyesight. It is low calorie and a source of fiber. I’m afraid that’s all I could dig up. Summer squash will not be the next superfood, yet there is ample place in your diet for Cucurbito pepo. Think of it as the extra vegetable serving we all need to eat after getting a balanced mix of leafy green, cruciferous, and orange carotene-rich veggies – a filler vegetable. Zucchini and the summer squashes take on the flavor of what they are cooked with, and there are so many ways to prepare them.

Here are some ideas for how you can eat up the fruits of these prolific plants: fried zucchini blossoms, ratatouille, broiled zucchini and herbs (with or without a lemon marinade), zucchini tart, zucchini frittata, zucchini with pasta, zucchini soup, zucchini pancakes, zucchini fritters, zucchini bread. Zucchini pairs well with mint, thyme, marjoram, basil, savory, chives, and garlic. What are your favorite ways of preparing zucchini?

Mahlzeit and happy cooking!

Are You Teff Enough?

If I had to sum up what’s been happening in my kitchen in the past week, I wouldn’t even need a whole word – I could reduce it to the letter T. T for teff and T for tagine. T for tonight, when I ate homemade injera with chickpeas, Swiss chard, and onions pictured above. Injera is a traditional Ethiopian and Eritrean flatbread made of fermented teff flour. The flour is simply mixed with water and left to ferment a day or so. Fermentation happens quickly thanks to a yeast that lives on the grain. It’s then fried on one side like a pancake. When bubbles appear, the pan is covered until the top is done – no flipping anxiety required. TC and I were won over by the coffee stout smell of the injera. Though I recently discovered a good recipe for misir wat, a lentil stew served with injera that was a favorite in my college days, tonight’s topping materialized from the odds and ends in the fridge that needed to be used up.

Teff is poised to be the next you’ve-never-heard-of-me-but-I-don’t-have-gluten-and-am-super-nutritious food. With the exception of basmati rice, I only buy grains that are grown in Europe. I don’t eat quinoa because I don’t want to play a part in jacking up its price in South America so that people for whom it is a staple food can no longer afford it. The teff flour I cooked with was grown in Germany. That’s fewer food miles than the basmati rice.

Tagine cozy
But what’s that I see here? Is it a tagine cozy or a hat holder for my freshly knit linen sunhat that will protect me from the fierce rays of sunlight I hope to encounter next week at the shores of the Baltic Sea? Last weekend’s culinary experiment involved cooking with an authentic Moroccan glazed tagine, a gift from friends who took a road trip to Morocco. A tagine is cooked over low heat until the food is well stewed. The earthenware bottom and lid heat up and radiate warmth toward the ingredients from all directions. The vegetables get a good steam bath.

Set up

My Very First Tagine

Note: The tagine (base and lid) should be soaked in water for about an hour before being used, especially if you cook on a ceramic top stove like mine. Otherwise there is a risk it will spring. The bottom should be liberally doused in olive oil to season it.

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cumin seeds

1/4 tsp piment

2 Tbsp raisins

3 small zucchini, sliced

2 small heads of cauliflower, cut into florets, stems diced

1 cup cooked chickpeas

Heat the tagine base on low heat. Layer the bottom with olive oil. When it’s warm enough, sauté the onions and garlic for ten minutes. Add the spices and raisins and mix well. Add the rest of the ingredients. Put the lid on it and forget about it for an hour or two. Then peek to see how the cauliflower is doing…

Peekaboo

When everything smells good and is cooked as you like it, serve with the grain or pseudograin of your choice. We tried it with Austrian-grown amaranth.

So that’s the kitchen report. Moving from the vegetable to the animal kingdom, it’s been a good season for animal offspring in our vicinity. The birdfeeder-turned-nest of Parus major is so full of young birds chirping up a storm that the parents can’t really fit in anymore – they just stick their heads in and drop off juicy white caterpillars. It’s very loud when the door is open, but it’s a pleasant kind of loudness. Last week we also noticed that the spider hanging out on the ceiling above our dining room table has all her eight hands full too.

spider progeny

Spiders remind me of the goddess Athena, my favorite Greek goddess, and the children’s book Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, who is quoted as saying, “If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” Hope you can improve or enjoy the world today – or both!

High Time to Get to Sea

Distant islands
The diagnosis of a mineral deficiency is not usually met with joy, but when my doctor said it was only a few hours to the sea and that he recommended I go as soon as possible, I dusted off my wish to walk the entire 12 km Lungomare, or seaside promenade, in Opatija, Croatia, and started looking for a hotel within walking distance of the Adriatic. I found the Hotel Opatija, where we slept well last weekend. It was clean and quiet, possessing all the decrepit charm of a former K. und K. hotel worn down by the Tito years. If you’re looking for the ex-Yugoslavian cousin of the Grand Budapest Hotel with an uninspired breakfast buffet set to Muzak, it’s your place, but I think next time we’ll opt to dish out the extra euros for a cushy wellness hotel even closer to the sea. The point was not, however, the hotel. Most of our time was spent strolling.

Lungomare

Opatija developed into a resort town in the late 19th century when it was still known as Abbazia, before being caught in the tug-of-war between national borders and ethnic groups pervading the 20th century. You could hop on the train in Vienna (or Graz, for that matter) and ride the Südbahn to the Adriatic without having to leave the Austro-Hungarian empire. In keeping with the history of this seaside resort, the majority of tourists today still appear to be German-speaking. Dating back to the 1880s, the Lungomare is sandwiched between the sea on one side and city parks and stately villas built by prestigious Viennese architects on the other. Many of the latter are now hotels; some are private residences. TC and I decided that we’d buy this one and fix it up if we had the money.

Our next villa

It wasn’t just the Austrians who previously flocked to the sea here. Russian literati including Anton Chekhov and Vladimir Nabokov spent time in Abbazia, the hometown of Leo Henryk Sternbach, the inventor of Valium. Traces of their presence can be found by the careful tourist. This bust of Chekhov can be found near the Kvarner Hotel, while a commemorative plaque to Sternbach graces his birthplace along one of the main thoroughfares.

Chekov

The weather was just beautiful and I was able to wear sandals for the first time this year. Spring is so slow in arriving in Austria and I’m still bundled up in Icelandic wool as I type these lines. What a relief to escape to a milder climate and get enough Vitamin D from the sun for a change. In a conversation last week, the topic came up of how great it is that if you just go three hours in any direction from Graz, you end up in an entirely different cultural and geographical landscape. Three and a half hours away to the south, the figs are already ripening on the trees.

Smokve

As you might expect, seafood is everywhere on the menu in Opatija. Specialities include cuttlefish risotto that leaves your lips and tongue black and fried scampi. For the vegetarian in your party, there’s a special traditional pasta called fuzi served with Istrian truffles and vegetable risotto, though if you are suffering from a recently discovered acute milk allergy, as I am at present, you have to be careful and avoid delicacies like sheep’s cheese from the island of Pag. The local white Malvazija wine is excellent, as is the red Teran. My big discovery, however, was blitva, or Istrian-style Swiss chard.

Istrian-style Swiss chard

500 g Swiss chard

500 g potatoes

3 garlic cloves, minced

Olive oil

Salt

Nutmeg

Peel and dice the potatoes. Cook for 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, wash the Swiss chard. Remove the stems and blanch the leaves in boiling water for 3-5 minutes. In a frying pan, sauté the garlic in olive oil. Add the chopped Swiss chard stems and sauté about 10 minutes. Add the cooked potatoes and blanched Swiss chard leaves to the garlic and stems. Season with grated nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

I’m guessing that the hoops in these skirts are not made of whalebone. All this contact with the sea and my current preoccupation with iodine has inspired me to reread Moby Dick, one of my favorite American novels. In Chapter 1, the narrator, Ishmael, explains his many reasons for deciding to join the crew of a whaling expedition, arguing that all humans have an innate fascination with the sea. I heartily agree.

Starting to read a book is like embarking on a voyage. I hope you have a good one at hand – or will have the opportunity to set off on a real trip soon. Good luck getting your ship ready to sail!

The sailor

Ta Da: Tatin?

First the bad news: the enticing crust above was so hard that I was embarrassed that I was serving it to someone not a member of my household. A mixture of wheat flour, water, and sunflower seed oil, it was a pleasure to mix and roll out. Little did I suspect that it would be impossible to handle with a fork. After TC managed to saw it apart into wedges, we elected to eat it with our hands. Though dry and tough, our teeth were never threatened. By the sugar, sure, but not by the hardness. Now the good news: the topping was loaded with flavor and moisture.

This is how the topping evolved: 100g muscavado sugar in 4 Tbs of water, heated and whisked until it melted. I added four sliced apples and stirred five minutes until the apples were well covered and the syrup started to cling to the fruit. Then it was time to pour it into the tart pan.

The topping was then tucked into the oven for a forty minutes’ nap at 200°C, completely covered by the flippant crust. To my relief, transferring it to the serving plate was real simple. Some apples didn’t bond much to either the form or the top of the crust, leading me to think that perhaps the sugar wasn’t really caramelized. It was brown to begin with, so there were no clear visual cues except the thickening of the syrup.  Nonetheless: there you have it, folks: my very first Tarte Tatin!

Or was it? I own two cookbooks with recipes for Tarte Tatin, and the one I used does not call for butter. (Butter, however, was what I used to grease the tart pan because it is simply unparalleled for that kind of job. Amen.)  The second one does, and I’d now like to try that one out as well as the recipe provided at this very interesting website written by a Tarte Tatin fan, which includes butter as an essential ingredient.

Since a lot of ink has been spilled over TT, I want to underline that my interest in trying out other recipes for it is more to expand my repertoire of baking tricks than any reverence for this much talked about starlet of French cuisine. Despite having devoted a good decade of my life to French studies, I have never felt a great affinity for French cuisine, perhaps due to haute cuisine‘s addiction to meat. Instead, my motivation is to master a cooking technique, the art of caramelization, that I can go on to apply it to other foods like milk, onions, and pecans. And next time, of course, I’ll skip the sunflower seed oil for the house flour-butter-water crust recipe.

Have you had any adventures with caramelizing? Good luck in refining whatever culinary skill you’re currently working on!

Harvesttide, or Saved by the Squash

Next Nachwuchs

Thursday was the Harvest Moon, the full moon nearest the autumnal equinox, a time when before the advent of electricity farmers took advantage of the light to keep on working in their fields. Saturday was the harvest festival party at the local farm that keeps us supplied with kale, melon, and other vegetable goodies. We followed a path of quotes laid out between the rows of vegetables, enjoying the view of the heart-shaped leaves of green manure buckwheat and of the bleating Krainer Steinschafe, a heritage breed of sheep. Then Sunday, the first day of fall, we cooked and ate our own harvest:

Butternut portrait
This is as local as it gets, from balcony to plate. Yes, I recently discovered a butternut squash growing between the wooden bench and the railing. This was my pet project of the gardening year: growing squash in containers. I had spent most of the summer fretting over our two squash plants. One was flourishing in its large IKEA-style plastic bag accommodation, while the other in the large concrete planter looked tired, faded, wilted, unable to summon up the necessary energy to blossom. Since it takes two squash to tango, I had given up hope of anything beyond beautiful blossoms on one plant. With the change in weather from incredibly hot and dry to cooler and rainy, fortune’s wheel turned, and blossoms started to appear on the plant in the concrete planter. It started to catch up to its companion. And then during a balcony clean-up action a little over a week ago, I discovered this:

Growing

Squash Pockets

For the crust:

200 g spelt flour

100 g chickpea flour

1 tsp salt

50 ml olive oil

125 ml cold water

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the olive oil and incorporate into the dough. Add the water and stir/knead until you have a smooth dough. Let it rest in a covered bowl for at least 30 minutes.

For the filling:

Olive oil

1 onion, diced

One half of a butternut squash, grated

1 tsp cumin seeds

Freshly ground black pepper

Cayenne pepper

Sheep’s cheese, goat cheese, feta, ricotta (whatever kind and amount you prefer)

Sauté the onion in olive oil. Add the squash and cook until it is tender. Add the cumin, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Remove from heat and add the cheese.

Separate the dough into six pieces. Roll each out into an oval. Place one sixth of the filling on half of the oval, leaving a space as wide as your thumb between the edge and the filling. With a wet finger, moisten this space (in theory this will help the two halves of the dough stick together and avoid filling spilling out and creating a mess on your baking sheet). Fold the other half of the oval over the filling. Roll up the sides and press down on them with a fork to seal the two halves of the dough together. With the fork tines, prick the top of the pocket a few times to make an escape route for steam.

Bake at 200°C for 20 minutes or until golden. Serve with the chutney of your choosing (we dug out a tiny jar medlar chutney left over from last year’s harvest) or a mixture of sour cream or yogurt and chives or another fresh herb.

pocket

There are many things that I am thankful for this harvesttide, but it’s the squash that best symbolizes the irrepressible life force that moves forward and flourishes given the opportunity. There are at least three more small squash growing on the two plants now. Even if it cools down before they fully mature, I’m content. What have you harvested this year that is worthy of celebration?

Kapuzinerkresse

Chestnut Weather

Sky and trees

The blue of the sky and the green of the walnut trees give no clue of the morning chill. As we approach the autumnal equinox, it gets more and more difficult to get up with the sun, which I missed at 6:40 AM today. About a week ago, the first signs appeared that my body is getting ready to move into hibernation modus. I don’t need to drag myself out of bed yet, but that will come soon enough. No more yogurt with honey and almond butter for breakfast, a luxury of the summer. My body needs warmth in the morning, and usually that means oatmeal with either stewed fruit or dried fruit.

Even with different fruit to add variety, oatmeal can get old very quickly, and it isn’t even winter yet.  An expedition through the pantry recovered a jar of chestnut flour that should be consumed by October of this year. Bingo. In fact, we’re at the start of the chestnut season. Time to visit the Castanea sativa trees in my neighborhood and guess when they will start dropping their prickly packaged fruit into my lap (and with luck not on my head). Soon the Maronibrater, or chestnut vendors, will be on every corner in town selling roasted chestnuts.

Native to Asia Minor and southern Europe, sweet chestnut trees are another tasty and nutritious legacy of the Romans and are found most frequently in wine producing areas. Medieval Renaissance woman Hildegard von Bingen prized chestnut along with fennel and spelt as the three top nourishing foods. The chestnut is good for the immune system and gives you strength. Sounds like the perfect food for a cool fall morning.

Ingredients

Chestnut Pudding

1/2 cup chestnut flour

1 cup water

1/2 Tbs raisins

1/2 Tbs pine nuts

Whisk together flour and water until there are no clumps. Add raisins and pine nuts and pour into a greased individual size baking dish.

Chestnut milk

Bake at 200°C/400°F for thirty minutes or longer until the top forms a crust that looks appetizing to you. When you break through the crust with your spoon, the mixture below should have been transformed into a pudding. Serves one.

Pudding!

With this warm breakfast in my belly, I should be able to get through my still quite long to-do list that has been keeping me away from blogging more often.