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!

The Big Harvest

six different veggies & flowers for the table, a harvest to share!

The definition of  the word harvest includes the phrase, “the season’s yield”.  This brings to mind philosophical thoughts, such as – what are the yields of the seasons of our lives?  This morning I enjoyed a tiny harvest from our small garden. For those with big gardens, lots of sun, great soil, and able bodies, eating out of the garden and having a bountiful harvest is part of everyday life throughout the summer and fall, the harvest seasons.  My physical challenges, and our solar challenged site, make our few beds, (raised for easier accessibility) of compost and store-bought soil to augment our ‘native’ clay, produce far less than the gardens of my dreams. However, this morning was no less joyous when I harvested enough veggies to make dinner for company.

One of life’s most essential lessons is to appreciate the gifts we receive, even when things don’t turn out as we’d planned…..or hoped for.  I have learned this lesson many times, at each turn in the journey that went a different direction than expected.  The dreams of my youth included living on a farm; the dreams of my young adulthood included self-sufficiency, with plenty to share. The reality of my ‘mature’ years is a small little plot to enjoy the thrill of eating a carrot freshly pulled and peas just picked.

This may be my ‘big harvest’, the only meal all season made entirely from the yield of our garden, (usually supplementation from local organic farms is needed), but for this one meal, this one day, I feel blessed with abundance and taste the satisfaction of my dreams being fulfilled…..with enough to share.

May your harvest be plentiful!

Footnote: So what’s on the menu with this gathering of veggies?  Quinoa with chopped carrots, beets and zucchini, cooked with spices and served with a tahini sauce;  steamed beet greens; and salad.  Also from the garden will be chives to garnish the quinoa dish, nasturtiums to add more color and pizzazz to the salad, mint and lemon balm tea.

My bountiful basket

Bounty……a word of interest to me today as I harvest a handful of peas, a few carrots, lettuce and greens.  Though satisfying to grow and gather these home-grown veggies, my basket hardly represents what I would call a ‘bounty’, by definition meaning abundance and plenty.  We will eat this small harvest in one day.  Yet though our veggie patch is small, with only a few harvests total, our garden, perhaps not full of food, is lush and green and looks bountiful.

In the surrounding woods there are red huckleberry bushes laden with berries, other varieties of berries, full of blooms, promise berry harvests yet to come.  I am acutely aware that my small basket of pickings, our tiny vegetable bed, the many edible plants around me (most of which I do not even eat), and the eggs our ducks lay, to many in the world would be a bountiful feast.

Nature’s bounty of berries!

To have the ‘luxury’ of ones own garden, the ‘privilege’ of growing ones own food, is often rare even in cultures where subsistence living is the mainstay of food supply.  Why should growing one’s own food be a luxury or a privilege?  Pardon my soap boxing here, but to me growing one’s own food, if able-bodied to do so (which is becoming questionable in this household!) should be a right, a Divine right, unchallengeable, and if necessary protected by law.  Most readers are aware of the threat, not only in our country but throughout the world, Monsanto poises as it buys up seed companies, takes farmers to court for saving seed, or using seed not sold by the mega giant in adjacent fields, thus ‘contaminating’ their sterile GMO seeds, (though it is the opposite which is happening) and in general appearing to have as a goal control of the world’s food supply by owning and controlling the world’s seed supply, thus removing from individuals and communities the right to provide nourishment for themselves and destroying subsistence agriculture.

Back to bounty.  Is bounty relative? What is ‘plenty’?  If plenty means enough, but no more, to live comfortably – whether it is food, shelter, water, the ability to stay warm, or cool, care for elderly, disabled, the ill, it seems that it would not be relative, for most people, though by constitution, climate, physical demands, and other factors, might vary a bit, require, within a range, the same needs.   Most of us know that if everyone ‘only’ had plenty, there would be plenty for all.  Scarcity, the opposite of plenty is caused by excess.  Rarely have I seen Nature produce excess (isn’t that what cancer is?).   The fruits of plants left uneaten become seeds for the next generation, or compost to enrich the soil.  Even here in the northwest, where often the lush plant growth can seem overabundant, there is a succession of new plant species that thrive in the undergrowth even as others might die from being crowded out. Nature understands balance.

When I see pictures of the village of Tintale, Nepal, where we sponsor a young girl’s education, I see lush fields of corn, cows, goats, chickens, freshly harvest beans.  It appears a bountiful place, people have homes, there is a village well.  Yet they live a subsistence life style, walking the razor’s edge of Nature’s balance.  If Nature is not cooperative, there is not plenty.  For those unable to work hard, there is no supermarket to go to.  Yet, so far, they do not have to buy Monsanto seed, like remote villages throughout the world, they save their own seeds to plant in their gardens.  If there is scarcity it is from Nature, which does not have a policy of control, only the unpredictability inherent in the natural world.  Nature may vacillate, but like a pendulum, it swings back to times of plenty.

locally grown strawberries….
in abundance!

My small basket of homegrown veggies will be supplemented by locally grown vegetables and fruits, locally made cheese, and, because I am among the ‘privileged’ of the world, store-bought grains.  I live in a larger community that is bountiful in that there are many organic growers.  I am not dependent on my small patch of garden or my ability to grow.  The greatest value of my small harvest is that it connects me to people throughout the world who are working their gardens, planting their fields, harvesting their food, a soul connection necessary for us to feel our oneness, to recognize we all have the same needs, the same ‘right’ to provide for ourselves. In that regard my basket is bountiful.