When I’m in need of some build me up butternut therapy I go into roasting mode with a butternut squash and make it into a salad – it works wonders served warm or cold.
“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” John Keats, Ode to Autumn.
The generosity of Autumn can boost our mood – whether walking through autumnal woods or sitting down to a mellow feast of colours and flavours.
In the northern hemisphere the autumnal equinox around 22nd September each year marks the beginning of Autumn. The word equinox derives from the Latin meaning equal day and night and is the transitional point at which the equator is closest to the sun and northern and southern hemispheres are illuminated equally.
Autumn is typically marked by customs and festivals that focus on being thankful for the season’s role in food production and the harvesting of crops. Birds migrate, the coats of animals thicken in preparation for winter chill, autumn leaves turn, conkers are the stuff of duelling and harvest festivals symbolise sharing and redistribution of resources. In the 2020 UK Coronavirus context this took the form of food parcels, food banks and neighbourly acts, as food inequalities were exposed. Making the most of home-grown produce and a hunkering down for winter became a preoccupation for many as lockdown hibernation set in.
There are three memories that I associate with Autumn and re-live each time that season comes around. The first is my mid-September birthday making me a child of autumn. The second is the balmy air and luminous light which I associate with early university days in Yorkshire learning to live independently for the first time. The third is being taken to a pumpkin patch in Seattle with a dear friend, Roberta Barry, and her adopted grandchildren – sliding in the mud, filling sacks with orange pumpkins and going home to carve out spooky-faced lanterns and bake big pies.
Whether visiting or virtual, a food market or festival is always a treat for the senses and worth a meandering mooch. Wells may not be on your doorstep, but it’s worth seeking out equivalent celebrations of local produce wherever you are.
Recipe for roasting
Roasting brings out the best of the caramelised sweetness of pumpkin or squash and the recipe that follows is a quick and easy way of doing that.
Ringing seasonal changes
That’s the basis of the roasted squash dish, but you can ring the changes in numerous ways. One option is to finish off for the last 10 minutes in the oven with a pack or can of brown lentils and a crowning glory of chopped or crumbled halloumi, goat’s cheese or feta.
However you choose to make it your own this serves up an Autumn equinox, warms the cockles, puts a spring in the step and joy in the heart. All you need is some good company and right now it might be your own. Enjoy and take pleasure in the small things 🙂