Saturday, September 22, 2012

Autumn Equinox

The day was a perfect balance of summer's warmth and fall's dry, crisp air. While my counterpart put a pot of chicken thighs on to stock, I paid a visit to my local pumpkin patch. I found one of those rare, perfectly round pumpkins that seemed to call out to me, whispering "Hey, hey, over here" as I wandered through. And it turned out to be a real beauty.

My counterpart seeded it and roasted both flesh and seeds with salt, pepper, and curry, adding honey to the seeds. And the chicken continued to stock until we had equal parts stock and roasted pumpkin. After letting the pumpkin cool near an open window, he carefully skinned it and diced it and added it to a pot of strained stock. A quick turn with the immersion blender, and the stock became soup.

Left on the back burner to simmer, he started on the meat. A boneless leg of lamb, also seasoned with salt, pepper, and curry, was quickly prepped. Once in the oven, he turned his attention to the veg.

A mash of white potato with leek, olive oil, and zucchini married the last of summer's squash with the longer-lasting roots of a winter diet. He carefully peeled and boiled the potatoes. While the potatoes were boiling, he drained some lamb jus from the roasting pan, combined it with a little butter, and sauteed the veg. Chunks of zucchini and potato were briskly mashed with milk and olive oil for a coarse, slightly bitter vegetable mashup.

The meat and veg complete, a little white onion and leek were added to the soup to simmer while the table was laid. A simple reduction of balsamic vinegar added to a roux was prepared to top our meat.

Our closest family - my counterpart's brother and his wife - provided the corn bread, a moist round that was both mild in flavor and coarse in texture. We prepared honey butter to go along with it, and it was a very nice pairing, as light and sweet as the day's weather.

Dessert was a fallback of Breyer's ice cream - one final salute to summer - as the time we should have spent last night on a cake or pie of some sort was taken up by the pleasure of each other's company doing nothing in particular.

And so the casual days of summer come to an end. Next week, we begin the last of the outdoor chores, wrapping up projects and preparing for the inevitable cold, dark days ahead.

Chicken Stock

Perfect Pumpkin

Pumpkin seeds ready for roasting

Fresh zucchini

Boneless leg of lamb

Potatoes in the sunshine

Placing peeled potatoes in cool water keeps them from discoloring

Roasted pumpkin

Minced leek

The table is set

Potato zucchini mashup
Autumn pumpkin soup

A mid-harvest meal: corn bread, pumpkin soup, potato zucchini mashup, and roasted lamb with balsamic reduction

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