Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hunkering Down, Bundling Up

After the first few days of fall being amazingly sunny and warm, it has now turned chilly and autumnal. I realize that on this blog I am almost always talking about the change of the seasons, but c'mon, I practically live outside (luxury camping!) so it is a major part of my life. I can tell the outside temperature and if it's clear or cloudy practically before I even open my eyes in the morning. Sleeping in a yurt makes me very close to the air, and harder to get out of bed now that the nights are colder. Having an outdoor kitchen and living room means we have to bundle up in the evenings, prompting us to wear ridiculous outfits we would never otherwise don, such as ponchos, fleece pants, uggs, and wool hats.

Cooking dinner by candlelight and headlamp takes a certain resolution unto itself. Though we are barely out of summer, the cold is already making my roommates and I change our diet, suddenly craving warmer, richer, high-caloric foods. Gone are the light meals of veggies, salads, and berries. A recent house dinner for example: As an appetizer we made cheese and garlic-stuffed fried squash blossoms, and we almost never fry things. While we were on a role, some one suggested fried avocado. Sure, why not?! We were all already feeling fatter by the time dinner was ready, and I had made an oyster mushroom-shallot cream sauce for the orzo and veggies. I usually don't even like cream sauces! While I was chuckling at this sudden change, I came across a related passage in Under the Tuscan Sun, which I am reading for the first time. I'm really enjoying it, and wouldn't recommend it to anyone unless they could get to Italy in the next year, because it will make you want to go.

"The rich smells drifting from our kitchen are different in winter. The light summer fragrances of basil, lemon balm, and tomatoes are replaced by aromas of succulent pork roast glazed with honey, guinea hens roasting under a layer of pancetta, and ribollita, that heartiest of soups. Subtle and earthy, the fine shavings of Umbrian truffle over a bowl of pasta prick the senses. At breakfast, the perfumed melons of summer are forgotten and we use leftover bread for slabs of French toast spread with jam plum I made last summer from the delicate coscia de monaca, nun's thigh, variety that grows along the back of the house..."

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