Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Moon When Squirrels Throw Acorns At You

As I have more closely watched the wheel of the year turn and gotten to know the major signs of the seasons I have started to notice the more subtle signs as well. It's fun to make up my own names for the seasons. There is a time in the spring I refer to as The Season When Little Birds Chase Big Birds. Starlings harass crows who get to close to their nests, crows harass hawks and hawks harass eagles. It's pretty funny to watch. In the summer there is the Season of Late Nights on Porches when it is too hot to hang out inside so all of our socializing happens outside. We have recently just moved into the Season When Squirrels Throw Acorns At You. The squirrels are busy and active building up their stores for the winter, and always seem to be chucking nuts at me as I walk under the trees they are working in. No one ever said squirrels were polite woodland creatures. Photo by Bourbon Familia.

There are some other fantastic signs of the season readily apparent as we settle fully into autumn. The sunlight continues to change, to get thinner. I met some friends for afternoon drinks the other day and we sat out on the deck and wore our sunglasses, but where I parked my car in the shade was still quite cool. The evenings and mornings are distinctly cold and I my dog is spending more and more hours under the covers with me rather than sleeping on her own dog bed as she prefers in the summer. The leaves on the trees are changing color and I am seeing more and more reds along with the common yellows and browns. The hills behind downtown Portland are starting to look golden green instead of just green as they do during the growing season.

Autumn is soup season, and root vegetable season. Here's a recipe from last autumn that combines the best of both worlds, and was made with turnips I harvested myself.

Harvest Moon Turnip Soup

4 or so cups of washed and chopped turnips
2 small potatoes, washed and chopped
1 small white sweet potato, peeled, washed and chopped
1/2 an onion, chopped
Couple tablespoons butter and olive oil
Salt, pepper, garlic powder and thyme
3 cups chicken stock, plus some more water
3 tbs butter
3 tbs flour
3/4 cup milk
Grated cheddar cheese
Croutons (bought oh, so long ago and finally getting used up)
Black pepper
  • Sautee the vegetables in the butter and oil in a big soup pot along with the seasonings until they are starting to get soft or color or both.

  • Add the chicken stock and scrape to get the crusties off the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil, drop to a simmer and check for seasonings. Simmer until the vegetables are well cooked.

  • Puree the soup in batches in a blender (being very careful! Volcanic hot spewing soup is not fun for girls or boys! Cover the blender with a dishtowel, and use the low setting on your blender!) or with a stick blender if you are cool like that. Keep the soup warm in the pot once it is all blended to your desired consistency.

  • In another small pot heat the butter and when melted add the flour. Cook a few minutes until it is a little golden in color. Slowly add the milk, stirring until the sauce is thickened. Add the sauce to the soup and stir to combine.

  • Grate a generous portion of cheese into each soup bowl (you could add cheese to the pot, but it makes reheating difficult, so I didn't) and ladle hot soup over the cheese. Stir to combine. Garnish with croutons, a little more cheese, and black pepper.
What season is it where you are? What creatures do you see being more active now and which do you notice by their absence? What are you cooking for dinner?


The House of Perpetual Indulgence said...

We just moved into our own house (here in Portland as well) and I suspect that this time of year will henceforth be known as the "blessing of late figs"... just as I fear a time in early summer will come to be known as the "plague of figs" or "please wouldn't you like a basket of figs?" or perhaps "for the love of god, save us from the figs!"

PS No posts in my blog yet...

Devra said...

The squirrels aren't throwing the acorns at us; it's the trees themselves! Sometimes so loud on the roof that it wakes me up as they "plink plink plonk" down the roof onto the ground.

Mountain Sketch said...

Mmmm this sounds delicious!
And yes, I am loving Nourishing Traditions:)