Tuesday, 11 September 2007
I don't know how it happened, but somehow we have gone from summer to autumn, seemingly overnight. I can see the leaves changing colour from one day to the next and each day I am greeted by more of them on the ground. There is a crisp feeling in the air and I can already smell the smells of burning brush and leaves and hear the leaves beginning to skitter across the dry pavement.
Where, just as few weeks ago, I was walking home in the evening in daylight, the sun is now beginning to dip into the horizon past the cottage next door, as I walk down the lane towards my own humble home, the silence broken only by the whisper of bats flying softly overhead and partaking of their early dusk treats, and the soft twittering of birds as they bed down for the night. It will not be long now before I am walking home in total darkness, with only the flashlight to keep me company.
Autumn is my favourite time of year. I love the cooler days and nights. I have never been a real heat lover. Perhaps it is the soft yearnings of my Canadian soul that speaks and tells me I am happiest in the cooler autumnal temperatures. There is something so cosy about walking into a kitchen after having been for a walk outdoors in the cool crisp air. The warmth of the kitchen AGA hits you right away. It just speaks of home to me. Were I at home during the whole day I would always have a pot of soup simmering away on the simmering plate, but alas, I am at work and so must save those pleasures for my days off.
I love all of the autumnal vegetables and fruits that are now showing up in the market stalls and at the green grocers. It is so lovely to see them again. I am a person that loves to eat seasonally. I want my strawberries during the summer months, served up warm from the summer sun with bits of straw still clinging to their leaves, just as I want blackberries fresh from the hedgerows, tasting all the better for having picked them yourself in the autumn. Somehow a Bramble and Apple cobbler just would not taste the same in July or as good as it tastes in September. There is a time for everything and a season under the sun. Our internal clocks tell us what is right and when . . . This is the time for crumbles and soups and tastily simmered things.
I saw some lovely , almost black, Cavolo Nero cabbage at the grocery store yesterday and picked some up. I love it simmered gently on top of the stove with beautiful fresh tomatoes from the garden. I could eat a whole plate of nothing else, but I think I shall cook some lamb steaks to go with it this time . . . a perfect autumn meal.
*Braised Cavolo Nero with Tomatoes*
I love the bitter flavour of this lovely deep green tuscany variety of cabbage. Very similar to kale and chard, it is robust and hearty and the perfect thing to pair up with delicious sweet tomatoes from the garden. This must be the reason they both come in season at the same time, for they are the perfect marriage . . .
400g of Cavolo Nero Cabbage (tuscan Kale)
1 (8 oz) glass of white whine
a healthy handful or two of baby plum tomatoes, (at least two dozen) cut into halves
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and bashed
1/2 tsp of dried red pepper flakes
Wash the Cavolo Nero very well under running water. Roll it up and shred it with a sharp knife, across the width.
Take a large deep skillet and heat some olive oil in it until it begins to shimmer. Add the clove of garlic and heat only until you begin to smell the fragrance of the garlic. Add the cabbage and some salt. Stir and toss for a few minutes over medium high heat, just until the cabbage begins to wilt a bit. Add the white wine, turn the heat down to medium and braise until the cabbage is soft, giving it a stir and adding some water from time to time if needed.
When the cabbage is quite soft add the tomatoes and continue to cook and braise, just until the tomatoes begin to soften, about five minutes longer. Serve with a drizzle of good olive oil on top.