I have been thinking about taking a time-out.
We are having a breathtakingly beautiful autumn day here in the Bogs. Mostly sunny, breezy, with an almost perfect temperature of 67 degrees. The days have not turned crisp yet, but they are beginning to crackle with energy.
Sometime last year I blogged about being in a cooking rut, and made the decision to randomly pick a recipe from the many cookbooks on my kitchen shelf. The idea behind this is we would try something new at least once a week. I’ve continued that project in some form or another, getting recipes from various places (books, online, magazines), but haven’t blogged about it much since I started my outdoor commitment.
I walked to the back of the property this morning. Back to the woods. This is the time of year when I can wander around back there for as long as I like. In the spring the vernal pools keep great sections of the ground in the woods under water and mushy. In the summer months the swarms of mosquitoes are so thick that no amount of bug repellant can keep them away and you’re likely to leave drained of a good portion of your blood and many itchy bites.
But in the autumn months the ground dries up, the mosquitoes and deer flies hide from the cooler, windier weather, and I can easily make my way down to the creek.
(The creek today.)
I don’t think I’ve been back to see the creek since last winter or maybe early in the spring. Winter is another good time to visit the woods, but I have to be sure to wear my winter boots and take great care as it can get icy back there.
It’s a dewy kind of day today. My feet and the bottom of my jeans were soaked by the time I got back to the woods, having walked through the former hay field (future woods) to have a good look at the trees we planted.
Rain has arrived along with even cooler temperatures. The clouds darkened and thickened all morning, but there was the occasional thin spot where the sun tried to shine through.
The only sounds in the woods were coming from me, walking on and cracking the branches scattered on the ground. M and I have to get back there soon with the chipper-shredder and start making some mulch while we clean things up a little. The path through the woods, underused during the summer months, is hard to find.
Coming back along the eastern side of the pond, I spotted a green frog sitting at the edge of the water. Most of them jump when I approach, but this one just sat and stared at me. He reminds me a little of the frog on ice:
I don’t know why I’m posting snow and ice photos from the past. We’ll be seeing that sort of stuff soon enough. Hopefully we still have a few more warm days coming to us before the snow starts to fly.
It’s ten days into my commitment and experiment in getting outside every day. There is still a long way to go but even in this short period of time, I feel as though I’m learning. And, as I recently replied to one of the comments in my last post, each daily exploration has, so far, brought a gift of some kind for my spirit/soul.
In other news…
Cooking gives you the opportunity to meet the things you eat. You can touch each carrot or olive and get to know its smell and texture. You can feel its weight and notice its color and form. If it is going to become part of you, it seems worthy, at least, of acknowledgment, respect, and than thanks. ~ Gary Thorp
I decided today was the day. The day to make Harvest Soup. The weather is gray and chilly. A perfect soup day.
I went up to Hilgert’s farm and loaded up on vegetables. Whatever appealed to me. I came home with a half peck of tomatoes, a big bulb of garlic, red onions, white onions, red potatoes, white potatoes, yams, butternut squash, yellow squash, zucchini, red peppers, green peppers, yellow Hungarian peppers, Italian green beans, yellow wax beans, corn, cabbage, and carrots. I may be forgetting a few items. I had two bags full of the most colorful produce I’ve ever seen.
I’ve spent a good chunk of the afternoon in the kitchen chopping, dicing, cubing, peeling, and putting together a big pot of soup using the vegetables I brought home from Hilgert’s. I used a homemade vegetable stock although it didn’t need much in the way of liquid as I used most of the half peck of fresh tomatoes and they are nice and juicy. The big decision I had to make at the point I added the stock was how to spice the soup. Spicy curry flavors? Or a spicy Cajun soup? How about a minestrone?
Minestrone it is! The Italian peppers and green beans leaned me in that direction. I also considered the fact that I’ve been preparing a lot of spicy foods lately. It was time for something a little calmer.
I added kidney beans and garbanzo beans to the soup to give us some protein. I’ll put in barley and pasta for the grains when the vegetables are almost finished cooking. At the very end I’ll add a few spoonfuls of homemade pesto just for fun and flavor.
In addition to the vegetables, beans, and grains, I infused the soup with my love and gratitude. I am thankful to the earth for providing, to all the workers at the farm who labored hard to bring us these lovely vegetables, and to the folks who work in the farm market for their work (and friendliness) in making sure we get the freshest vegetables and fruits.
I am really looking forward to dinner tonight. It is going to be delicious, nutritious, and nourishing.
When you prepare a bowl of vegetable soup, you are preparing the soup ‘of a thousand households.’ You are united with the farmers who grew the vegetables and the workers who built the roads to deliver them. You are assisted by those manufactured the utensils and those who constructed the stove. The list is endless. And the soup, itself, will nourish not only you and your friends but all those you are yet to meet. ~ Gary Thorp