As snow is falling on mountaintops across the country, is it too late to still be obsessing over our gardens? Oh well. The gifts of the fall harvest keep giving long after the moment they’re pulled from the soil.
Many of us here at Ibex are avid gardeners and half-hearted foodies – lacking the commitment to take either our food or ourselves too seriously. (In other words, we’re not Instagram-ing every meal.) As the mercury drops, our foodie inclinations heat up and the late fall veggies are as central to warming our spirits as our Shaks are to warming our cores.
There’s a specious sense of permanence to the fall harvest. Throughout the summer, we harvest only what we’ll eat that day. Yet in the fall, we reap it all. The mounds of squash and potatoes will stay for months in a dark corner of the garage. Every last tomato ~ ready or not ~ is pulled and processed into sauces, pastes and roasted goodness. Apples and peaches are peeled, sliced and frozen for a winter’s worth of smoothies and pies.
My method is the same year-to-year. First, I merchandise my haul. (Hey, no judging.) Before I even think about freezer bags or canning or oven roasted goodness, I display the produce around my kitchen like my own personal farmer’s market. This can take some time to do it right. My husband seems to think this is: a) dorky and b) a waste of time. I think it looks pretty.
Then, it’s on to work. After hours spent cleaning, peeling, cubing and canning the most nutritious and freshest food imaginable, my desire to cook is stoked non-existent. My inevitable first meal after the bountiful, fall harvest? Delivery pizza and beer.
It only takes a batch of butternut squash soup to get back on track. Let the rounds of creativity and “experimental” cooking begin! There is nothing comparable in eating as knowing that the marinara you pull out of the freezer in January was made entirely from your garden – save for the copious addition of Chianti from Italy, naturally.
A celebration of harvest season isn’t complete without honoring its downright attractiveness. I can barely describe photosynthesis at a third grade level, but I’m more than capable of appreciating the deep, rich colors of slow-to-mature veggies. The hues of the season are the saturated and visual representations of potent health: deep oranges, dark greens and stately purples.
Have you ever noticed the colors of your wardrobe mimic the colors of the food you’re eating at this time of year? To my mind, that’s no surprise. The colors of the harvest are the colors of health and warmth that will sustain us through the upcoming winter. They invoke a home that is heated by a slow roasting oven, and kids excited by Technicolor piles of leaves and deep orange pumpkins. Of course, nature gives us the most direct cues at this time of year: dress warmly, eat well and cherish the waning hours of sunlight.
Wishing you warmth, healthful food and a great wardrobe this harvest season!