08 September 2011

Waiting ...

Apple and squash season are just around the corner here in New England. There are bags of early apples and hard squash making their way into the stalls at farmer's markets and onto the produce stands at the super. I don't know how I feel about this ... I'm not really ready to say farewell to summer. I still crave the sounds of locusts way up high in the oak tree just out back and the hum of the window fan in the night. I'm already missing the hummingbirds. They left last week ... no more aerial acrobatics and chittering when the feeder is empty. I'm not ready for the September song of crickets and katydids in the grasses by the rock walls. I still want to hear bluebirds and orioles in the trees and hedgerow down in the lower yard.




There is a vacuum-like atmosphere about these few weeks when summer has let go and autumn is creeping closer. It makes me a bit blue. The chickadees and finches have not flown back from their summer feeding grounds, so the yard has a stillness about it. I've put the feeders of sunflower seed and Niger up, though. I'm waiting. There is the occasional pair of cabbage butterflies flitting here and there, a stray Monarch butterfly working over the buddleia bush. It's stocking up for the long commute south. Wild turkeys venture up the yard to pick at the remnants of the vegetable beds. If the dogs aren't out lazing on the terrace, they 'gobble-gobble' their way closer to forage the first few acorns that are beginning to drop from that oak tree. The owls are beginning to hoot in the woods at night; they are on the move south to winter hunting grounds. In the woods, the ferns are beginning to yellow and the jack-in-the-pulpit berries are reddening nicely. The blackberries are becoming wizened and moldy where they hang deep in their brambles. The trees haven't turned, though. So, I wait.




I'm waiting for the colors of autumn to burst out of the landscape, the pumpkins to ripen, the cider mills to start cranking out gallons and doughnuts. I'm waiting for the bustle of folks preparing their dooryards for Halloween and for kids to start making the rounds with their school fundraisers, that flurry of orange and gold to begin covering the lawn, the first real chill that demands a fire in the kitchen woodstove. I'll be fine when all that hustle bustle begins, but until then, I wait and mourn a bit summer's slow decline.



 
It's raining today.  It's raw and chilly. I'm thinking of SB on the road riding that bike home toward the grey cottage. He and my brother have been three weeks out on this bicycling jaunt. They are like those butterflies flitting their way up and around the Maritimes. I've envisioned them on more than one occasion over the past few weeks. It's time they head south to home, though ... before the really chill stuff falls.  This is the first in a chain of fall rains. Come home, guys. I'm waiting. There's bread and there will be stew.
 
Tonight, though, there's soup for me.



Butternut Squash Apple Soup
an adapted recipe

Ingredients:

2 tbsp. butter
1 large onion, chopped
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
4 ½ lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped into small chunks
4 ½ c. chicken broth (or vegetable)
2 tart apples (Granny Smith are great)
1 c. LaBelle Winery Granite State Apple wine (or an apple wine that’s local to your area)
Dash of cayenne pepper
¾ c. heavy cream (optional)
Dollop sour cream per bowl, for garnish
Caramelized apple slices, for garnish


Making the Soup:

  1. Melt the butter in a deep saucepan.
  2. Add the onions, cinnamon, and nutmeg and sauté until the onions begin to brown and the spices are aromatic.
  3. Add the squash pieces and continue the sauté for another minute or two to build the heat.
  4. Add the broth, apples, and apple wine.
  5. Bring the mixture to a bubble and then reduce the heat and simmer with the pot uncovered until the squash begins to soften.
  6. Add the dash of cayenne pepper, cover the pan, and turn the heat off to finish the squash and apples.
  7. Just before serving, purée the mixture until smooth with a hand blender.
  8. Bring the heat up under the soup and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Here is where you add the optional cream, if you care for a “Cream of … “ soup.
  10. Ladle into warm bowls and top with the sour cream and the caramelized apple slices. Serve with a small bowl of buttered croutons or slices of toasted bread and a cold, semi-sweet wine (perhaps a halb-trocken Reisling?), as a first course.

5 comments:

  1. Ohhh I was in New England in August, it's so beautiful!!! I wish I could be there in September too to see the wonderful colours of the nature!! Have a great day (no metter if it's raining)
    LOL

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  2. This is my favourite time of the year. I enjoy the change, the cooler nights and all the wonderful produce spilling from our gardens.

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  3. This is my favourite time of year too and yes, that was a beautiful post!!! I so love that photo of your window with the rain. I could just keep staring at it. And your soup! Definitely a Brenda and Joe soup. Yum!!

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  4. Thank you Anna and Brenda! I love to write and there is always a bit of angst when I choose to share a 'deeper post' ... I worry that it will be seen as too artsy-fartsy or pretentious, but I do love writing ... so once in a while I take a chance and hit the publish button.

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