The falling leaves are beginning to swirl and dance around our feet lately. It seems such a short time ago we eagerly watched them unfold, revealing new growth, a most welcome symbol of spring. Then, with a firm nudge from the warm sun and much coaxing, summer finally arrived.
What a wonderful golden season it is to enjoy. It has the knack of mellowing us out, teaching us to touch base with what is important. Life takes on a more casual turn, of flip flops and shorts, having friends over for barbeques or just sitting and visiting and talking far into the night.
These are the moments we have waited for, to savor the richness of life, and perhaps the abundant crop that we have harvested from our own garden. The last hurrah will sound and the curtain call will close the season far too soon for most of us. We want it to last as long as possible, and early fall provides an additional extra few weeks to play it forward a bit longer. This fall has been exceptional, with a glorious stretch of warm summer-like days that are truly a bonus we didn’t expect!
Getting the winter wood supply ready has top priority for many households these days. Pickup trucks loaded with freshly cut blocks is a common sight around town these week-ends. As anyone who burns wood knows, there is nothing like the warmth of a crackling wood fire on a cold day in January. All the effort needed to get that wood supply cut, hauled and split is rewarded beyond measure.
Times have changed, but for those who did a lot of preserving and canning in the fall remember, this was the busiest of seasons, putting all these good things into jars to be enjoyed later in the winter months ahead. From jams, jellies and marmalade to beet pickles and canned peaches, we were prepared!
Many women today still enjoy this season for that reason, and my daughter-in-law has everything from salsa to spiced plum sauce ready to add some wonderful variety to winter meals. It is truly a very satisfying feeling to see the jars you have filled sitting on the countertop before being stored away.
When gardens are mentioned we have many on the North Island that are exceptional. It goes without saying that if you or your friends grew any zucchini, by now you will be trying to give them away by the armful. Sometimes they have become huge, but you politely accept them, and ponder on what in the world to do with them.
Actually they are a very versatile vegetable and can be used in many ways to make tasty dishes. One favorite is adding grated zucchini to scrambled eggs, frying the zucchini a bit first, and then whisking them into your eggs. This combination tastes very much like egg foo yung.
Another interesting combination is adding cubed zucchini to a mixture of peppers, onion, and tomatoes and then sautéed in oil or butter, along with oregano or basil, salt and pepper. This is a very nice side, served with meat loaf. Grated zucchini is also added to chocolate Bundt cake, spaghetti sauce, or zucchini relish to mention a few.
However a word of caution is in order here. Be careful in revealing what this interesting flavor is, if asked. If your family or guests do not appreciate zucchini, they may not eat what you prepared, including your delicious chocolate cake!
Yes, the last days of summer are precious and few, and packed full of all the good things the earth has produced for us to enjoy. And whether we like them or not, that even includes zucchini!