Rebuild Yourself During the Harvest
I have a theory: that this fabulous weather is invigorating, inspiring, and motivating, and we're all doing much more than we were last week. In the absence of the hot, humid drag that summer can have on our to-do lists, we're suddenly presented with the both an ideal environment to accomplish tasks we've put off, and the foreboding of more inhospitable weather- of the cold, icy variety.
It is worth it, however, to take some time and consider what this season is about.
Flowers that have been lazily bobbing about all summer are suddenly putting out seed. Fruits that have been taking in the scenery, slowly ballooning in size, are suddenly ripening and falling. Animals that have been dozing on hot afternoons are suddenly out at all hours, munching away and putting on their winter storage.
This last flurry of activity is all about preparation, building up, maximizing, optimizing, and storage before winter- a season that's all about hunkering down, being quiet, resting and restoring.
This makes Autumn the perfect time of year to heal! (Keep an eye out, I'll make the same argument for the next 3 seasons, too. It's all relative :) )
Root vegetables hold all the promise of next years' growth, stored in their sweet layers deep in the comforting, supportive earth.
Seeds (including nuts) hold that same promise, and hold a sense of fresh air, sunshine and youth in their tight shells.
Mushrooms wait all summer for the cool dampness September brings, and help to bridge the gap between layers of the forest, between freshly fallen leaves and rich, dark hummus underneath, in the same way that they work with your body.
Squashes, with their hard rinds perfect for outlasting the whole season, yield a melting, soft, sweet interior, and gift us with all those qualities too.
Here's an example of a whole day's meal plan, based on this transition time between full-fledged Summer and outright Autumn:
- The night before, I boil water (to make tea) and pour some over a hot cereal, like steel-cut oats or Bob's Red Mill 10 Grain. I let it sit til morning.
- The next day, add more water and cook about 10 minutes till the cereal is finished. While it cooks, cut some fall fruits like apples or pears into slices and warm in a pan with cinnamon and all those great pie spices, some butter and a little juice or water. I don't really "cook" them, just warm them up.
- Top the cereal with fruit, nuts, ground flaxseed, milk, whatever you like. I like breakfast with a big mug of Dandy Blend.
- Near lunchtime, since I'm at work, I put a whole acorn squash on foil in the toaster over, set at about 375, for an hour. When it's soft, cut it in half and scoop out the seeds. Drizzle in some maple syrup (or Razz's Shagbark Hickory Syrup!) (that's a direct link, for awesomesauce) and scoop out the warm flesh with a spoon, directly into your mouth. Fabulous!
- I also keep a container of organic miso paste in my office fridge, and a jar of leftover sauteed greens like kale or chard. Scoop out a dollop of miso, about a tablespoon, and put in a mug with a little water, stirring to dissolve. Add a pile of cold, cooked greens, and fill up the mug with hot tea water. Stir carefully and poof! You have an instant soup at the perfect temperature.
- At dinnertime, wash and prep some greens of your choice. Strip kale from its stem, chop chard (and dinosaur kale!) with their stems, rinse out the bok choi really well, use whatever you have on hand. I sautee everything in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. It's great over grains or rice, splashed with apple cider vinegar, Bragg's Amino Acids, sesame oil, or any other sauce, or just on its own.
- I was raised in a 2 veg-per-meal house, and my CSA is still putting out string beans. It's super easy to snap off the blossom ends, stir fry them till they're brown and delicious with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic, then splash some sesame oil in after you've shut the heat off.
- On the weekends I like to make up a big stew to have a leftovers. A recent favorite is this Pork and Fennel stew (from EatingWell.com). I at least double the fennel, use a little less pork, and added some frilly napa cabbage and carrots last time, with extra tomatoes. Some meaty mushrooms would be super, too. The meat turns meltingly tender, and completely falls apart after a good long time in the crock pot or in a clay pot, so every bite ends up with a little bit of everything.
- I've also been getting amazing, quick cooking red potatoes from my CSA. I chop some into chunks and boil until tender, drain and put in a bowl with a few teaspoons apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, a little mustard, curry powder or my kitchari blend, and enough mayo or yogurt to make a great, warm potato salad.