Dense fog and moisture in the air, dewy wetness on all things still green and those turning color too.Rusting leafy foliage falling away baring their now stark treed host. Dried corn plants shuffling their crinkly leaves await the harvesters blade and the pale early morning sky fuzzy misted over as the sun begins to burn through with a cool and bright effort. And pumpkins dotting this or that field or ornamenting this or that farmer stand or door steps.
Yup, it’s fallish out there folks.
And I’ve got a hankerin’ to be out there, to spend time in the thinning woods. Where green turns to rust and mushrooms show themselves off against the leaf littered forest floor, some pretty, some ugly and all of them fascinating.
Yesterday I gave in to that hankering and hunkered down the evening before to prepare my daypack for a short day trip into the local deciduous woods. The air felt fresher, the temperatures chillier and my step quicker so as to generate a bit more body temperature even though my wool mix hoodie kept me snug and warm.
It being a Saturday morning, the forest lanes and roadways (this is Germany and the woods are crisscrossed with ‘Waldwege’) were empty. I had the place mostly to myself. And as I often do, I wondered where the wild boars were. But most of all I was anticipating my first cup of outside coffee.
If you’ve ever made a delicious cup of hot coffee outside you may know the pleasure I speak of. No, not a cup of instant crap but the real ma-coy, boiling water poured into a coffee filter over a large cup. The result a brew so good that it nearly blends into the surrounding beauty. Ah ok, so the heady scent of a freshly brewed cup of java out there is kinda out of place as it were but it does the body good. If you prefer a good hot cup of tea would also do the trick I suppose but coffee is my choice for moments like that.
I spent some time looking around and gathering a bit of firewood, smallish bits and processed them into suitable sizes to accommodate my Bush Boxmulti fuel pocket stoves’ small size and then set to building the fire that would boil the water that would release the intense flavored coffee into my cup and then my mouth. It took a little while but the time spent doing the work was well worth the efforts.
By the time my cup was filled, the sun had begun to shine on the spot I’d selected for the coffee ritual.
Bittersweet October. The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter.
Carol Bishop Hipps, (Author) “October,” In a Southern Garden, 1995
Admittedly this month which heralds the now not so distant and decidedly less delightful seasons suffered a rather messy beginning, however today was a good day. That nearly perfect kind of day goodness one senses deep within, with the only exception that I had to perform some sort of manual work (thankfully out of doors) that kind of put a wee crimp into the absolute leisure of total submission of simply enjoying this day sans distractions. Today was strikingly similar to the perfect spring day but the exact opposite of that, hence the above quote for this day. And it was windy too.
Light high flying coastal clouds defuse a pale blue late September sky as my appetite and comfort needs turn to the soul enriching flavors of true soups, made from scratch and not a few cupful/handfuls of love and pride in the act of creating edible ecstasy in a large pot for the dinner bowl and spoon set.
My lime green cast iron/enamel pot is settled onto the stove, it’s lid firmly, nay heavily fit into place sealing in the goodness of my first autum sojourn into my world of hearty soups. I’ll check under the near manhole cover weighted lid in an hours time now. Let the ingredients relax and release their natural benefits.
Yeah, I did think of taking some photos while in the process of chopping and adding and stirring and now the waiting/cooking but couldn’t be bothered much with fiddling around my my digital eyeball just then. I’ll show the finished result later instead (then it will be now for you).
I will tell of the idea and how I begat this particular version of hearty goodness.
It always begins with the mention of a certain food or a feeling I get at this particular time of the year. Soup is what begins. Soup season if you will and I love soup season.
Today I began with 3L of water into which I slow cooked two small roughly diced onions, one bay leaf and two beef bullion cubes (salted only much later); add to that a fair and reasonable yet not over the top amount of dried split peas and lentils of your choice. To this combination I added two bunches of baby carrots, again roughly diced/chopped, another diced small onion. For color I added on whole Okanagan red pepper, along with three thick sliced of ginger for medicinal flavouring. I also added four cubed yellow potatoes at the end for excess salt absorption. For meat I used two kinds. I roughly diced two red wine chorizo sausages that I got at Cioffis an hour ago. I started by frying it in a large skillet. To that I added a reasonably largely diced 1.7lbs of natural stew beef pieces. Fried those up well, adding the leftover of the super spicey raspberry jam (I mixed three drops of Dave’s Insanity Sauce (great color) for some extra flavor enhancement. I do this because then when the meat is transfered to the iron soup pot for tenderizing slow cooking its flavor mixes with the building/expanding/developing soup. I’m having a difficult time keeping the lid on the pot and not looking in on the process … but I am resisting.
After combining everything I wanted to add to the pot, I let the low heat and iron pot do their thing to the ingredients under the lid for as long as you can stand it.
After the fact: The big pot is empty now. The soup was incredible, hearty and oh so delicious.