Monday, October 7, 2013

When Fall Has A Flavor

Photo by Becky Hasenhauer

Autumn rains arrived and brought with them a damp chill that penetrates. Evenings fade into cool temperatures and mornings dawn while it is still dark. Stars seem to hang closer, pinned to the sky and pierce the brisk air. When the geese fly low toward the lake their sound is the calling card that ushers in fall. 

It makes me look for the flannel sheets, my over-sized sweat shirts and fleecy slippers that were hiding in the back of the closet.

And fall has a flavor. For me it's forkful's of raw apple cake with spicy homemade caramel sauce. Yes, cinnamon, nutmeg, and all things spices. It's chili soup simmering on the stove, made a little different every single time. Our family favorite version is taco soup. This too is mostly made with what is available, plus corn, homily (which my mom used to serve up like salad and I thought I'd never eat again in my whole life) and taco seasoning added with chili powder. Then topped with grated cheese and a single dollop of sour cream.

With corn chips.

These chips only have three ingredients listed on the package, all of which you can pronounce. The salty crunch with each thick bite, join the smooth, cool and creamy which rest on top of the hearty chunks of meat and beans. On an amazing day there could be corn bread that is sweet with golden honey purchased from a local bee keeper and fresh ground cornmeal that has a different flavor than anything you can purchase in a box. But friends, a box of cornbread works too. 

This time of year, apples are so fresh they snap when you bite into them, pine cones fall from the neighbors tree, and maple leaves are my very favorite leaves to find in pools of rain water and bird baths. For some reason they were my favorite even as a child. I would find them wherever I could and bring them home. Then we would take curls of colors from old broken crayons and place the maple leaf between two sheets of wax paper and apply heat to melt all the colors together with mom's iron. I'm sure that crayon wax oozed from the sides onto the metal and I wonder how many times mom had to find this out the hard way.

I so love the cascade of autumn colors. Coppers, burnt reds, deep oranges and flaming yellows. And I have to hold myself back from buying every basket of fall mums at local stores.

It may be, for the love of the baskets.  I feel the same about old bottles, chairs and wood with peeling paint in general. There is something in me that wants to collect them and but them on porches. Mostly other peoples porches, because mine is too small really, not to mention that my husbands taste is more clean and contemporary and he married an eclectic messy.

Maple is another one of my favorite flavors. For some reason, my taste palette files it  under a "fall flavor" even though it certainly is not. It happens to be the secret ingredient in came to be known as my grand champion whole grain cinnamon rolls. There was probably no other entries that year at the fair in whatever division I enter them in, but I brought home the ginormous purple ribbon with overdone ruffle that said that taste was the very best. My family thinks so even without the fussy ribbon. The flavor of maple teamed up with pecans and real butter are good anytime of year, or day, but it just feels like a fall thing.

Mostly I don't use recipes, but here is a rough idea of the proportions I use as cinnamon roll filling:

2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans (or more)
1 tsp fresh cinnamon (or more)
1 tsp real maple flavor (or more)
(purchase at health food stores)

Use whatever kind of dough you like. Roll out the dough in a rectangle, smooth softened butter over surface, add filling above. Roll, slice and bake in a pan. Make it simple and buy frozen dough if that makes it doable for you, but try it and let me know if you are in love with maple too.

Today, in a large roaster in the oven we are making homemade apple butter. The smell will drift into every room and may even mask the smell of puppies who are living with us another week. 

There will have to be bread too. To feel the warm flour, press the palms of my hands into the spongy texture while kneading the dough. When it come out of the oven, with it's golden-brown crusty top and steams as you slice it open to slather honey-butter over each thick slice. (Equal parts butter and honey.)

These food things are connected to the  space and time that I occupy.

The rich colors, aromas and flavors are like tonic that bring a level soul-satisfaction because they are part of the bounty God has blessed us with.

October has this cozy place in my heart that is delicious, beautiful, full of good things and blessing.

What flavor is your fall?


post signature


Post a Comment

I love hearing from you! Thank you for stopping by.

© Rhonda Quaney