It’s that time of year. There’s just…something…in the air. Lord knows, in Southern California, I wouldn’t dare call it a *nip*, but there’s something. Of course, the days are getting noticeably shorter. The afternoon sunlight hits the living room floor at a lower angle, the shadows are deeper. Although our days are still plenty warm for the most part, the nights have a definite edge to them. The froggies that live in my front flower bed and in the neighbor’s bed that runs along my driveway are not quite so boisterous in their night songs. In fact, the froggie in the front seems to have already gone wherever he/she goes during the fall/winter/early spring. I no longer hear him/her as I fall asleep, and I miss him/her. The froggie by the drive, I only hear, very softly, when I let The Grrrrrlz out for their last Dooty Duty/Yard Patrol of the night. By midnight, he’s tucked in for the evening too, chilled no doubt by the dampish Fall air. There are smells of cinnamon in the grocery stores, from the scented pine cones and brooms that will soon become seasonal décor. I love that smell...
But still, I have to celebrate, while not quite “The Harvest” in the true sense of the world, surely the bounty that comes at this time of year. The past few shares I’ve received from my CSA, The Growing Experience, have been absolutely overflowing with goodies. Figs and corn and tomatoes and greens and salad mix and herbs and apples, OH MY !
Plus the overload of tomatoes that my heroic, beleaguered, embattled, but so valiant surviving tomato plant has produced against pestilence, disease, plague, mockingbirds and all odds has been peaking in the last two weeks or so. Sadly, soon to end, but certainly appreciated while it lasted.
So, between the heroic yield of the tomato plant and the CSA farm’s output, menu planning for the last month has been much less about “what do I feel like making/what do I crave” and much more about “what do I need to use before it rots”.
Which isn’t necessarily a bad way to cook, it’s just not a way to cook that I’m particularly familiar with, nor particularly comfortable with.
I *used* to be a list maker. Back in the day, Friday night, as I walked in the door from work, I’d toss my cocktail glass in the freezer, get into my jammies, pull out my recipes and cookbooks and the grocery sale fliers, make a dirty Tanquery martini, not too dry, with two olives and two onions, (shaken hard, please) heat my frozen pizza or other ready-to-heat snacks (Fridays were always cook’s night off for me), and peruse my menu options for the coming week. It was the only way that I’d pull off making something resembling home-cooked food during the week, and not fall into the trap of “I’ll just swing by the MegaMart and pick up something easy”, ensure I had sufficient leftovers for lunch that I didn’t have to hit a drive-thru everyday and also unwind from a usually over-the-top intense week at work. I’d set my menus for the week, make my shopping lists, eat my snack foods, have another martini and then get up Saturday and hit the grocery schleps.
It’s a lot more free-form now.