Friday, September 23, 2011

Sweet Autumn

Yesterday was officially the first day of autumn, and it's making me happier than I can possibly express. Most people who know me well know that this is my favourite season: the weather turns crisp and cool, leaves change colour, and a sense of calm falls over me as I begin to nest in for the winter. I have to admit, my idea of a perfect evening would be sharing a gorgeous dinner with a small group of friends, and then curling up by the fireside with a book or some knitting and a cup of mulled cider, and the darker half of the year is really quite meant for such evenings, isn't it? Wow, am I a wild child... Fortunately, my dear Nathaniel is much of the same mindset, so it works out rather well.

Our little sparrow, Robin, is growing up to be quite the handsome gentleman. It's amazing how much personality is squeezed into that bird, but it's truly a wonder to behold. He has definite likes and dislikes, an extensive vocabulary of warbles and squeaks, and recognises several words that we say: so far, the words that elicit the best response from him are "almond", "blueberry", and the latest one, "TIMBIT". I've also discovered his fondness for Lady Grey tea with agave syrup and a squeeze of lemon juice: what can I say, my boy has good taste. I just have to find a way to keep him out of my teacup.

Robin and a honey cruller Timbit with his name on it.

We thought that we would need to sort out a new nesting place for him for the winter, as his abode in a metal "N" atop our radiator would not be ideal once the heat is turned on. He seems to have sorted out that issue for himself, however, as he has made a little den for himself in one of the cubbyholes built into the Victorian writing-desk we have in a corner by the window.

This season is full of so many delights, and not just those of home and hearth: farmers' markets are teeming with the season's harvest, and we can once again indulge in soups, stews and casseroles that would have been terribly out of place in summertime. The other night, my dear friend Becca created a dish of quinoa with roasted squash, leeks, and garlic that was absolutely gorgeous, and I've been craving roasted squash and pear soup like you wouldn't believe. Nathaniel also has a penchant for creating melanges of root vegetables that, despite their simplicity, have a richness of flavour that has to be witnessed firsthand. We don't really have a recipe for this per se, but there are only a few key ingredients that are needed:

- organic root vegetables
- onion
- garlic
- olive oil
- herbs and spices of your choosing.

One of our favourite combinations was a mixture of sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, orange and purple carrots, parsnips, a bulb of garlic, and golden beets. The vegetables were all chopped into cubes, then tossed in a baking dish with olive oil, salt, pepper, a bit thyme and a sprinkle of herbes de Provence. We then roasted them at 400F for nearly an hour until the vegetables were soft, the onions had caramelised, and people were lining up outside the house to find out what we were cooking to make the neighbourhood smell that good.

We have a few creative projects on the go right now, though our major focus is on Dispatch Ontario 2: the second edition is a paperback rather than hardcover, and is full of stories, poems, colouring pages, puzzles and more! Stay tuned for further updates, and have a gorgeous weekend.