CHANGE OF SEASON
I love the turn of the season–the days getting shorter. I had the first fire in my woodstove late last week. As some of you know, that’s a big deal in my year. Gretapie had first dibs on the comfy spot in front of the stove, but Mr Fez has availed himself of it, too. They seem to work out an equitable schedule on their own.
I’ve been heating with wood for 40 years and I try to wait until the temperature outside has dropped to 40°F (just below 5°C) to strike the match for that first fire I have laid. It’s a sign that soup and stew season have arrived. My son built me a new woodshed this summer and filled it up with dry wood ready to burn, so as soon as the temperature dropped, I was ready. The woodshed is just a few steps from the deck, so it’s now really easy to bring in a few armfuls to last until the next day.
Yesterday, as I was driving back from the big city, the sky was gray and wet and the tall cedar trees were in a mist–a far cry from the summer day on which I took the above picture. I stopped at my friend Cindy’s on the way home, where Gretapie had spent the day, and enjoyed a warming bowl of potato soup and cornbread. When Gretapie and I got home last night, I set the fire, did a few chores, wrapped myself in a wooly blanket, and cuddled up on the couch with a good book. Right now I’m reading Hippie Food by Jonathan Kauffman. I bought it nearly a year ago when it first came out and am just now cracking it open. If you came of age in the 60’s or 70’s, like me, you may recognize a lot of the names in it, and if you are from a different generation, it’s still a very good read.
A week from today on October 16th, Home Cooking with Kate McDermott will be released and I am so excited! There will be a first book event that evening in my town, and then I head out on book tour for nearly a month.
There’s lots to get ready before then, so the next few days in my garden will be a blitz of activity both in the house, and out in the garden as I plant garlic, harvest the quince and the last of the apples, clear out the beds, and plant a cover crop for the winter. My greens (collard, kale, and chard) will hold on for a while longer, and the potatoes are under a blanket of straw to harvest as needed.
Last week I shared with you the Mac and Cheese recipe from the new book, and I have loved the responses I have received from you. Here’s another recipe to share with you. If you received my newsletter, it will look familiar, and it was also featured in Sunset Magazine this month. I call it Stone Soup, because it can be made with so many variations of what is in season or you have on hand. I feel that recipes should be flexible and easily adaptable. I hope you will find this one meets the bill.
Recipe from Home Cooking with Kate McDermott
MAKES ABOUT 3 QUARTS
- 1/2 pound (about 200 g) dry red or white beans, such as kidney, Northern white, or cannellini, or two 15-ounce cans (850 g total) beans
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil, plus more for serving
- 5 to 7 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 11/2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
- 2 large tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
- 1 small (about 1 to 11/2 lbs or 450 to 675 g) winter squash, peeled and
- coarsely chopped
- 2 to 3 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped into half moons or other
- shapes of your choice
- 2 quarts (2 l) water or chicken stock
- 1 bunch kale, coarsely chopped
- 1 to 2 cups (130 to 260 g) fresh or frozen peas
- 1 cup (90 g) elbow macaroni or other small tube-shaped pasta
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/2 cup (50 g) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional)
1. Rinse dry beans several times, place them in a Dutch oven or lidded pot, cover with a few inches of water, and bring to a boil for 3 minutes. Remove and discard any foam on top. Let sit for 1 hour.
2. Rinse the beans, cover them again with fresh water, and bring to a boil for 3 minutes. Remove and discard any foam on top. Turn down the heat, cover, and simmer for about 90 minutes or until the beans are tender. Older beans will take longer. Drain the beans and set aside. If using canned beans, you can skip this step.
3. Dry out the bottom of a Dutch oven or large pot, and heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for 30 to 60 seconds. Add the rosemary, oregano, tomatoes, squash, and carrots and sauté for 3 or 4 minutes.
4. Put the cooked or canned beans back in the pot and cover with about 2 quarts (2 liters) water or stock. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down, partially cover, and simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Add coarsely chopped kale, peas, and pasta. Continue cooking until the pasta is tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Serve with extra olive oil to drizzle on top, chopped parsley, and optional Parmigiano-Reggiano.