Previously published October, 2006
Autumn in the Kitchen
This is my favorite time of year.
The departure of the hummingbirds from my garden is the portent of crisp mornings, azure skies, warm afternoons and the first fire in the fireplace. Crunchy leaves and soft sweaters and blue jeans and boots of burnished leather. Summer dresses hung away in moth balls, replaced with tweeds and cashmere.
But nowhere is fall more apparent than in my kitchen. The big vase of gladiolus in my kitchen turns into a pumpkin filled with mums. The peaches and plums in my fruit basket make way for pears and apples and figs.
I love the veritable cornucopia of fall vegetables in the market right now. Snowy cauliflowers the size of basketballs; squash both mammoth and miniscule, in green and yellow and orange and white and blue.
There's an unwritten rule in my kitchen. Even if the squash show up in the market in August, I don't buy or cook them until October. Doing so any sooner than that would acknowledge that summer has gasped its last humid breath and winter is right around the corner. But by October, I'm ready.
This weekend I halved a large acorn squash and scooped out the seeds. Those I tossed with olive oil and kosher salt and toasted them to snack on later. The squash, though, needed stuffing. Not that all squash isn't lovely with just some good butter, salt and pepper, but I was in the mood for something different.
So I chopped some onion and apple and turkey bacon, and sauteed it all in a little butter...a little cardamom and coriander, because those sweet spices love squash and squash loves them back. I filled the cavity of the squash with the mixture, covered with a little jacket of aluminum foil and baked them until the squash was soft and creamy. They were delicious.
The next morning, I left for work in boots and a sweater, the leftover squash in my little lunchbag. It was even better the next day.
A young woman at the office offered me $5 for my squash as it came out of the microwave, and told me she liked my boots.
I love fall.