September 18, 2013
The Warmth We Need
Just a few days before the equinox, Autumn pushed summer aside and settled in. It reminded me of the soothing pleasure of a cup of tea in the morning and often another in the evening. I have a few small piles of tomatoes on my kitchen table, several ears of sweet corn in the fridge but I'll soon be trading my summer nectarine and yogurt breakfast for a hot bowl of oatmeal.
I can't help but notice, take in, and write about the change of seasons. I welcome them all in different ways but the arrival of fall might be the most evocative for me. It has been more than ten years since I went back to school, which is why the arrival of September didn't distract me from enjoying the rest of summer. But as soon as the air gets crisp and the breezes cool I start to crave small changes, new routines and the chance to have the fresh start that school so often brought.
Instead of a new haircut and sweater I am making gradual, seasonal changes in the kitchen. The tomatoes and corn are still very good eaten fresh though I am now more interested in the way they can be transformed by the heat of the stove or the oven. This morning Amos and I made a pot of tomato sauce (or rather, I made the sauce while he bounced and cooed and smelled the garlic and onions and basil). The sauce was a slight variation on this one, which I pureed and let simmer while we read stories and played on the floor. A pot of tomato sauce is such a simple thing and I am fortunate to have a baby who is happy to hang out and watch while I do some cooking. After months of eating vegetables with little adornment or cooking, this transformation seemed especially satisfying. Stirring a pot by the stove is just the right thing when I'm wearing jeans and sweatshirt and feeling the cool air blow through the still open window.
While Amos napped, I stirred polenta, another warm and bubbly pot on my stove. The beginning of this new season makes me want to spend all day in the kitchen for warmth, satisfaction and sustenance. The sauce and the polenta will go with sweet kernels of corn cut off the cob and a big bunch of basil to make a baked dish full of the flavors of summer and the warmth we need with the arrival of autumn.