I’ve been loving these exquisitely beautiful Autumn days. Chilly and shimmering in the early mornings…
…luxuriously warm and golden during the day.
I’ve spent as much time outside as possible, turning old animal pens into new garden plots by digging out huge rocks and weeds clinging for dear life to the sun-baked soil. It is hard but satisfying work, and I love seeing the dream projects in my head come to fruition inch by back-breaking inch.
At the moment the pens are mere blank swathes of earth with skeletal borders made from the rocks I’ve dug out. But in my minds eye I see those bordered gardens filled with fragrant spearmint, pineapple sage, rosellas, chamomile, echinacea, and innumerable other herbs, criss-crossed with pathways piled deep with sunny yellow straw to keep the weeds down and the mud off my boots.
When I take breaks from digging, I harvest, and figure out ways to use the abundance of eggplants and chilies that seem to multiply every day. This week I spent a gorgeous morning by the fire roasting eggplants and poblano chilies, and smoking speck, aged cheddar, and chipotle chilies.
I love it out there, deliciously warm sunshine, cool breezes, smoke billowing up all around me.
I always feel peaceful next to a campfire. My thoughts slow down and the hazy parts of life become clear.
I like watching the vegetables change color as the flames do their work, making Plain Jane vegetables utterly delicious.
I sat out there for a long time, continuously adding damp wood chips to the hot coals to create more smoke, watching the speck become burnished, the cheese a glossy amber.
When the speck was ready I cut off slices and toasted them over the remains of the fire until they were beautifully crispy, and Bear and I ate them for lunch.
I added the poblanos to a ham and cheese quiche for a smoky, spicy kick, and used the smoked, aged cheddar in savory crepes with ham.
I never cease to be amazed at how delectably transforming a bit of smoke is.
In a kitchen awash with Autumn sunshine, I peeled all the blackened eggplants, then mashed them with garlic, lemon, fresh mind and parsley from my garden, and a good drizzle of Caramelized Garlic Balsamic Vinegar. We had some that way, then Bear, a huge fan of curry, suggested adding curry powder to give it a bit more depth. It is delicious too. Just the thing for dipping with crackers and veggies, or spooned on cold roasted meats.
Today I took time off, and Bear and I spent a lovely day visiting with dear friends, talking for hours over a table laden with scrumptious dips and veggies, sausage rolls, curried egg sandwiches, and the most stunning Black Forest Cake piled high with cream, custard, and cherries. It did us both much good, and we returned home in that lovely glow that always accompanies time spent with great people.
Tomorrow I’ll get back to my gardens, but tonight it’s time to relax. xo