Friday, September 23, 2011

Autumnal Equinox--Summer into Fall

How does it happen every year? I'm preparing to start school, and whammo, I'm suddenly in the thick of things and the weather is getting cooler and I'm picking up autumn squashes at the CSA. I mean, we still have the air conditioner in the window, I'm still folding shorts and tank tops in the laundry. That's New England for you. Today one of my neighbors and colleagues at my school reminded us all that today is even the Autumnal Equinox. I was glad he did because it's a perfect reminder of how it is indeed a marker how we are transitioning from one season to another.

So what exactly is the Autumnal Equinox? I like the explanation given by the KU Medical Center's Diversity Calendar (see my blog post here on my connection to KU!) that gives the standard explanation that "the length of the day and the night are approximately equal at every place on earth" but also says that "the word equinox is derived from the Latin word aequinoctium (equal night)." and that many Pagans celebrate Mabon as one of the eight sabbats (a celebration based on the cycles of the sun). Mabon celebrates the second harvest and the beginning of winter preparations."  Cool, huh?

It's also perfect for this post since I was so disappointed that I was never able in August to post many on many of the topics and dishes I wanted to, and I had been planning to kind of cover them here along with some of the more recent items. Now I can do a half and half post and it all makes sense. In the words of Hannibal from the A-Team, "I love it when a plan comes together."

For the first food post I didn't get to, Lauren the super awesome Mighty Food Farm greeter at the CSA room turned me on to eating beets raw. I made this shredded Carrot & Beet Salad that's so simple. You shred 'em up, dress 'em up, and eat 'em up.

The dressing is just olive oil, lemon juice, some dijon, salt & pepper. Then add some chopped fresh parsley. Once you try it, just figure out what you think you might like and adjust it. Here's a neat looking recipe if you want to try one. I say the simpler the better, let the beets & carrots shine. This recipe made me feel sooooooo happy that I finally treated myself to a super duper lovely Cuisinart Food Processor, an upscale model too. What super duper home culinary mom/chef shouldn't own one? Shredded these beets up right quick!

Last summer I posted my favorite use for leftover fresh corn, which is turning into Corn Chowder. This summer I made some Lobster Corn Chowder, using some lobster claws that were in the freezer at the fish counter at Hannaford. They were inexpensive so I could afford to buy them for my son who loves lobster and wonders why we can't have it for dinner. A big regret this summer was not being able to get to the Maine shore for a vacation (or anywhere for that matter).
I cooked the lobster with the corn in the same pot.

Most of the creaminess comes from the starch of the corn and from pureeing the potatoes and the broth. There's only about a cup of milk in the pot.
Owen got his lobster when we went to Lenny's in Branford, CT with his aunt & uncle!
A final thought on summer goodness is how much I love fresh parsley. Not the curly kind, the flat leaf. I seemed to add it chopped to everything this year. I loved it more than basil or cilantro. 
Me in the parsley row at Mighty Food Farm. I'm squinting, not frowning. I really LOVE parsley.

Okay, so now the plan isn't coming together. Because now that I'm at the end, I don't want to talk about my Autumn cooking yet. I still want to savor summer a bit more. I'll tell you about my vegetable pot pie and my creamy carrot soup next time.  Right now it's been rainy and a little dreary and school has been hectic and we teachers don't have a contract and I'm really pretty tired and I just want to breathe a little bit more of the summer air, look at the summer greens.