Fall Foods & Eggs

Eggs, symbols of rebirth and renewal, are usually a topic for springtime, when the biological clocks of most poultry trigger a plethora of these protein rich ovals. Our two Muscovy ducks decided to have a fall fling of broodiness. We do not eat many eggs and most of their production is usually sold to an appreciative friend. However, this recent abundance of large, rich duck eggs with their golden yolks  reminded me to try some of my favorite fall dishes that include eggs. Fall too is a time of new beginnings (perhaps programmed into us by the education system) and certainly a season of transitions. A time for heavier, grounding, meals.

Traditional foods of autumn are those that keep throughout the winter….colorful, diverse winter squashes; root crops such as parsnips, beets, and carrots; and flavorful leeks.

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Here are a two of my favorite fall recipes that combine eggs with fall veggies. They can also be made sans eggs.  If you have a sensitivity to chicken eggs (many sensitivities come from eating too much of  a particular food, and commercial chicken eggs are found in a lot of commercial prepared foods) you might try finding a source for duck eggs or even quail eggs.

Parsnips and poached eggs

This simple dish is a grain-free, meat free, yet protein rich and satisfying meal. Freshly harvested fall parsnips are flavorful and sweet, leeks add even more flavor.

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IMG_7363Cube and steam parsnips with sliced leeks, this recipe works well using the green tops of leeks. Spice with cumin, salt, or whatever appeals to you.

When parsnips are slightly soft, mash them into soft chunks. (They look a little like hash browns, only not brown!)

I poach eggs by stirring boiling water into a mini-whirlpool and pouring the egg (pre-cracked into a little dish) into the center of the whirlpool. Turn heat down to simmer a minute or two, depending on size of egg. When the whites have lost their transparency and look cooked, scoop out with a slotted spoon onto a ‘nest’ of the parsnip/leek mixture. (Don’t over cook or you will have a hard yoke!)   Garnish with chives and more cumin. Serve with fresh made applesauce while still warm, another fall flavor!

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A lighter, summer version: Poached egg on Basmati rice & dal, served with summer veggies – peas, kale, summer squash.

Beet Patties

For those who have my cookbook, this is not a new recipe, but it makes such a colorful, hearty autumn meal, I share it here.

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These can be made without an egg, add a little more rice and oats for holding it together. If you want to make them without the grains, add an extra egg. If you use neither, it will still taste great, but likely fall apart more. I’ve made them every which way….still tasty!

* pre-cook 1 c. white basmati rice
* grind in a blender or spice grinder 1/2 cup oats (you can substitute oat flour, or any other flour, the ground oats adds texture)
* mix rice & oats with one large egg

* grate 1 – 2 medium beets, 1 medium parsnip, 1 large carrot (works just fine without the parsnip)

* add in 1-2 t. each oregano, thyme and 1/2 to 1 t. Celtic or sea salt

* chop fine the white part of 1 leek

 

steam sauté vegetables in a skillet with a little water until they soften slightly and cook down in volume, it will only take a few minutes, careful not too over cook.  Cool.

 

Add to rice/egg mixture, mix well (using your hands helps) and form into patties.

 

Patties can be baked in a 350 degree oven in a glass baking dish, or cooked in a skillet with a little oil, turning to cook both sides.

 

Cook until patties are hot on the inside but not crisp.  Can be served with a garnish of yogurt and chopped chives.

 

Apples & Pears

In Ayurveda, (which if you’ve been reading my blog for awhile you know is the ancient science of health and healing from the Vedic tradition) fruits are generally best eaten cooked and warm by people of Vata constitution and/or in the Vata time of year, which is autumn.  My favorite way to enjoy the fall fruits of apples and pears is to bake them. Spicing them with warming spices such as cinnamon, cloves, cardamom or nutmeg make them comfort food on a cool fall day.

Pears and figs baked in a Daily Bird clay dish, topped with nuts

Pears and figs baked in a Daily Bird clay dish, topped with nuts

An old apple tree that fell on our wood shed last winter, and needs chopping down, has never produced more than a few hard little apples.  It has never had good sun exposure or much care.  This year it gave us, as it’s swan song, an abundance of crisp apples. The tree, given to us by friends who wanted it out of their yard decades ago, is of an unknown variety, but the slightly tart, with a touch of sweetness, flavor makes for good sauce and we look forward to an apple crisp and some baked apples.

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All-American Fall Favorite:

Having never been much of a pie crust maker, I gave up years ago, choosing to make fruit crisps and cobblers.  This lovely apple pie, made by my friend Ke, was delivered to our door step last week, a gift of love and friendship on a day where such kindness was deeply appreciated. It was so beautiful, just had to share it!  Of course it tasted great…not too sweet, great apple flavor!

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Autumn is a great time for soups, you can find a few on my not-very-updated recipe page. Hope to add more soups this fall.

bon appétit!

Animal Dances

The balance, and dance, between wild and domestic animal companions has been IMG_4819fascinating to watch as Abby claims her new home territory.

Abby, the dog who moved into our house and hearts July 5, the last time I wrote*, has gone through a transformation and blossomed into a confident stalker of rats and squirrels.  Being a retriever breed, she is sometimes patient in her watching and waiting, moving slowly, one paw at a time, other times, she is quick on the draw, as she was the day a confused rat ran right up to her. In the seven years we did not have a dog we became accustom to wildlife, always present just beyond the yard, becoming more comfortable hanging out closer to the house. Our yard, a small oasis in, and extension of, the surrounding woods, became part of this wildlife haven we live in, a chunk of woods backed by acres of timber land, a rather vast undeveloped area in a county becoming more and more developed.

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Abby watching over her territory.

 The upside of increased wildlife closer to home has been chipmunks on the porch, eating sunflower seeds out of my hand, deer wandering through (no major damage, just a few nibbles, I notice they prefer native plants when available, and we have lots available!) and feeling the closer presence, and odor, of smaller mammals such as skunks, raccoons, etc.  The downside of no domestic pets has been rats getting into poultry houses and nesting under the house, (a problem creating a lot of work for Mike a few years ago), and even squirrels getting too bold and often destructive of feeders, etc. 

Abby, after letting the squirrels know free food under the bird feeders came at a price….vigilance on their part, readily pointed out to us a new rat nest under the house, once more Mike had to tear out insulation, replacing it and covering it this time with plywood.

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this morning a chipmunk breakfasted on a stump outside the bathroom window, beyond Abby’s sight!

I was concerned how a domestic dog would impact the increased wildlife visitations.  But Abby seems to know who the problem critters are and who to just give a little notice to.  After a few curious chases of chipmunks, she actually watched (albeit through the screen door) as one sat on the porch and ate huckleberries last week.  Even the squirrels require less attention now that they know she is on to their shenanigans.  A deer, just beyond the meditation building, did not draw her attention, she likely did not see it, but she has a very keen sense of smell.  Ignoring such a visitor may be wisdom on her part, there are limits to what a miniature poodle should consider stalking! Being a small dog, her own safety, and failing eyesight, means she is not out at night, she does not even like being out in the evening light unless she is with us. In her absence, a raccoon took advantage of an open coop door and made a meal of our beloved rooster Studdily. The hens and we are grieving.

Perhaps there is a balance, Abby living in harmony with some of the wild ones, letting others know they now share space with her. As the fall migrations of young raccoons and skunks, forced out of their parents territories, bring more of them into her territory, we will see just how wise she is!

She has made herself at home, considering the first 9 years of her life, coming from a backyard puppy mill, if she got outside at all, she was limited to a residential, more urban yard. At first she did not want to walk our forested trail, now she will follow a scent into brush over her head (something our short-legged Corgi wouldn’t do!)

It has been a pleasure and honor to watch an animal ‘come into her own’ and discover who she is. (Now if she would learn to behave in public around other dogs! That is another Abby story!)

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At the ocean, a place she had never been before, Abby learned quickly waves are just waves, not something to chase, and seagulls fly, making them hard to stalk, a meditative activity requiring a “stalkee” who does not leave  immediately.  But they are fun to watch fly!

* A personal update for those who have asked: Yep, it’s been a long time since I wrote, what sort of blogger goes two months without a peep? A stressed one! A summer of light-headed dizziness and head pain has limited computer time and sent me searching for answers. Tried cranial sacral therapy, saw doctors and physical therapists….not the way to spend a beautiful sunny summer!  Wrapping up mom’s house, cleaning it out, getting it ready to sell, and our weekly lunch visits with mom, also has kept me busy. Allergic reactions to Abby at first added to the stress, but a better diet changed her body chemistry and my body got the message…..she is here to stay!  We have adjusted, some days better than others.