The mornings are crisp, the evenings almost nonexistent. The sidewalks are piled with yellow and golden leaves from the ubiquitous maple trees. They crunch underfoot. Squirrels busily scurry through them, burying then digging up and reburying their walnuts, searching for the perfect spot to hide their cache.
We pass through fall entertained by the sounds of distant football games and geese honking overhead. On our schedule are trips to the apple orchard, hot mugs of cider shared with friends, getting lost in a corn maze, and listening to the tales of our farmers who have been combining into the early morning hours to get their crop harvested before the snow flies.
Let us linger in this autumnal doorway. We come inside into our kitchens bringing in pumpkins, squash, fat fennel bulbs, thick stalks filled with Brussels sprouts. We carry in armloads of hardy vegetables and greens. Mounds of lacinato kale and ruby-ribbed Swiss chard spill out from garden baskets. Magenta carrots, pale leeks, sweet onions, and beets make their way into braises, stews and bisques. Any more bounty and my refrigerator will burst.
So we chop. We cook. We roast. Ripe tomatoes, garbanzo beans, and kale meld into a richly flavored Pomodoro Sauce. Green tomatoes become pickles or are sautéed with roasted peppers and curry and then served over rice. I wait all year to assemble beefy Borscht out of freshly scrubbed beets.
Cooking the Bounty
For tonight’s dinner party, I have stuffed juicy sweet apples with sauteed leeks that were tossed with goat cheese. I baked these in a pool of Sauvignon Blanc, butter, and bay leaves. Now as they finish cooking, the cozy aroma welcomes the arriving guests.
The main course is a large hen stuffed with sprigs of rosemary, sage, and thyme. Lemon quarters, cipollini onions, and pats of butter peek out of the cavity. I then rub the outside with a paste of olive oil, minced garlic, sea salt, and crushed black peppercorns. This bird is surrounded with root vegetables, carrots, parsnips, beets, and potatoes. Finally, slivers of kale, red onion, and Pecorino Romano tossed with a grassy olive oil and champagne vinegar comprise the salad.
Finally, warm from the oven free-form pear galettes drizzled with lavender honey serve as the capstone to this harvest meal. The meal fills with rich laughter and the garden’s final offerings.
Life celebrated by friends and food: fall is the perfect time of year for this. Now neighbors have returned from their summer travels. The bitey cold is not yet on the horizon. Autumn is certainly the season of abundance. Therefore invite friends, prepare your table, and savor the verdant plentitude.