Autumn foods

On my other blog (The Tasty Herbalist) I talk about seasonal transitions and this seems equally relevant to here. The bounty of late summer has well and truly made way for the sparsity of autumn and any heat from the sun has long faded. Traditional autumn fare reflects this change in the seasons where food is now about providing warmth and nourishment (I like to think of autumn and winter as semi hibernation). The focus should be on starchy root vegetables, robust greens, slow cooking, dried and preserved foods and fat. This is certainly what I want when the light levels dip and the temperatures drop. I want steamed puddings, roasted vegetables, gravy, toasted nuts and seeds, dumplings and mashed potatoes. I want shepherds pie and stews. I want to stuff vegetables with other vegetables. I want to eat toasted crumpets and fruit cake and wash it all down with my be-teacosied teapot.

I must admit I have gone a bit crazed with the vegetable buying and it’s like a pagan harvest festival has exploded in my house. No bad thing. It can feel like autumn and winter is a sea of brown, like the colour has been drained out the landscape but it is also the time of year of bright green vegetables and the vibrant oranges of the squashes.

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vibrant autumn orange

Autumnal food gets a bad rap, a lesser cousin to the more vibrant summer foods but really, what’s not to like about a warming shepherds pie with the multitude of variations available. Should it be bean, lentil, nut or root vegetable based? Will I top it with potatoes, sweet potatoes, polenta or a mix of root vegetables? Do I want it gravy-like or in a tomato base. So many options.

So lets sing the praises for those gnarly roots and sturdy greens, and pass the gravy.

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Vegan MoFo: Happy New Year!

Contrary to what you might think I have not gone mad…although 31 days of MoFo could do that.

Samhain, or Halloween, is the old new year and I feel entirely happy adopting it as my own. So much better than the usual New Year, or Hogmanay as it’s known in Scotland, where the purpose is to get hammered. The old New Year begins at dusk so I guess that technically it’s not the new year yet…but lets not get pedantic.

A Traditional part a of new year is making resolutions but more recently I prefer goals. Goals can’t be broken and are something to strive towards where, as everyone knows, resolutions are made to be broken.

So here are three food goals which are doable and achievable:

1) Work more wheat free meals into my diet.

This isn’t because I have any allergy or intolerance and I have no intention of giving up wheat at all but with toast for breakfast, couscous for lunch and pasta for dinner ,well, even I can see it’s verging on excessive. It’s far too easy an option and wheat is pervasive, sneaking into so many things. Variety is good, it is the spice of life after all, so I must expand my carbohydrate repertoire. Just not too sure how yet.

2)Eat as seasonally as possible.

You know…without being too precious about it. I am a major proponent of seasonal eating and we already do our bit but I’m all for more! I truly believe that eating produce which is appropriate to your season is healthier for you. There are many reasons why, in the northern hemisphere anyway, we should eat roots in autumn and winter and fresh leafy salads in spring and summer. I know that automatically I am drawn to warmer, earthier meals in the winter months and lighter, cooler foods in the summer. That’s  not to say that salads can’t be eaten in winter but base them on carrot, beetroot, cabbage and celeriac rather than tomatoes, peppers and lettuce. Anyway, before I get off topic, seasonal foods shall be increased…except lemons. I can’t not have lemons!

3) Get back to preserving.

I love having a cupboard full of pickles, chutneys, jams and other preserves. Others might find it pointless and time consuming but I find it calming and a necessary part of connecting me to the seasons. Also, it’s a sneaky way of eating unseasonal fruits and vegetables legitimately without them being in season!

So those are my food goals for my new year. Have you any goals for the new year?

It’s never too early to start christmas cake

soaking fruits for christmas cake
If I had my way I’d probably start soaking my fruit in January so that everything is extra fermented and tasty. I did once leave fruits soaking for about 10 months but that was more through neglect than anything else. I’ve already talked about my dislike of things such as mixed peel in anything festive and I’ll also add that a christmas cake full of nothing but currants, raisins and sultanas is disappointment pure and simple. A mix of raisins, apricots and prunes is what I use even though the chopping (or scissoring) of the apricots and prunes is more time consuming. I like to stand meditatively and cut them one by one in a Zen-like trance. Afterwards they get soaked in a random selection of alcoholic dregs and, if I remember some orange and lemon zest. Mmmmmm, it’s beginning to smell a lot like christmas.

(Talking of christmas I am half thinking about bringing back Vegan HoHo again. We’ll see.)

Easter cakes and a bunny

Easter cake
A basic vanilla cake (recipe) with 'butter' icing, mini egg halves made in a chocolate mould and strawbs. Spanish strawberries on special offer reeled me in. Since I've stopped eating gluten and sugar I seem to enjoy making this sort of thing for other people more than ever. Not sure what's going on with that…

Little easter cakes
Little ones. You may not be able to work out what that is below but it's a chocolate bunny (love those moulds).

Bunny_edited-2

the obligatory valentines post

I abhor valentines day with a passion. I'm essentially a very unromantic person who has never expected nor wanted bunches of flowers or boxes of chocolates so to have a day dedicated to all things lovey dovey and which actively encourages public displays of affection…urgh, it gives me shivers up my spine.

I grudgingly acknowledge that not everyone is devoid of emotions though so if you can't fight those glandular secretions awash in your bloodstream and have the urge to proclaim your undying love you could try these few items (click on image to take you to the page):

Valentine's dinner

Hannah's heart shaped quiche

 

Ice lanterns

 Lucy's lanterns (why not put rose petals in them?)

cake with blueberries and chocolate hearts

 Lucy's cake inspiration (I believe she has made a new one this year with even more tasty treats on top)

(This was going to be a longer post but, meh.)

 

Two more sleeps

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[that's me running away with a smug/delighted look on my face not  the child begging at his feet]

Two more sleeps to go  until a strange man breaks into your house and this year will be the most relaxed christmas day yet. I say that not in hope but because it is reality! For the first time ever there is no last minute panic buying of gifts (usually on christmas eve). The food has all been bought and Tomorrow we will prep most of it so that on Sunday minimum effort will be required to put dinner on. There will be no mad rushing about or hours spent slaving over a hot stove. Root vegetables will be chopped and tossed in oil (maybe some fresh herbs and garlic cloves in there too) and left in the fridge overnight, Sauces and gravy will be made in advance and then gently reheated and the something en croute will be sitting in the fridge ready to be launched into the oven. The pudding is already sitting happily waiting to be steamed again and I won't even think about putting it on until the main course is served.

Other than eating slightly more christmas pudding that perhaps necessary there won't be over consumption in this house. We don't go in for the whole over eating from christmas to new year followed by self loathing and denial (dieting, urgh!). Instead of gorging on selection boxes until being sick we're looking forward to a leisurely morning (cups of tea in bed of course), a brisk walk, some unrushed present unwrapping, christmas tunes (mowtown and Sufjan Stevens)  and good food. We'll be taking time to enjoy baby's first christmas.

I hope everyone is ready for christmas and that some/one/any of our festive posts have been useful. All of us at Modern Housewife wish you all a relaxing, fun, peaceful and delicious christmas and we hope to see you all in the new year. 

ready for Christmas / embracing madness

Mince pie in the making
Mince pies did get made 🙂

Despite my earlier outreach, ‘do what you want and only what you want‘ festive post there has been some mad running around, buying and spending for certain relatives… Others have popped by unannounced when, unfortunately, I had some avocado smeared on my face (it’s a great moisturising facepack) and had forgotten about it. Passing a mirror after they had gone, I spied a blob of green in an eyebrow. It is my belief that they rather enjoy thinking I’m mad so, you know, just spreading the joy 😀

However, there has also been a lovely visit to the cinema and health food shops, huge delivery of firewood and the following pictorial festive activities:

Cake, pies and chocolate

The Christmas cake was winged recipe-less and is incredibly crumbly but delicious, Charlotte made gorgeous mince pies and that’s Cat’s white hot chocolate which is lush.

Cat

Diving under the Christmas tree has gone on…

Tree dive

There was an early morning walk through the frost to release a mouse from a live capture trap… with an entourage of cats and dogs (see poorly lit photo below)…

*Joyfully embraces perceived insanity*

Frosty

To Do list: dance around to cheesy Christmas tunes; wear my Santa hat; cook Christmas dinner; make a chocolate log cake, maybe a trifle too; watch rubbishy Christmas films; wear tinsel in my hair; hug and kiss the people I love and generally behave with the lack of decorum now expected of me 🙂

 

MistletoeSparkly Yuletide Wishes to You too! Santahat