09 Oct An Autumn Menu
Ignore the calendar. Don’t point to the red and orange maple trees or their fallen leaves that smother the grass. Pumpkins hold no proof. No, Autumn doesn’t arrive with the weather, or gourds, or the solstice. It arrives with mice. Each year, the rodents that feast on my tomatoes and dig ankle-twisting holes in the yard attempt to winter over in our home. They slip through the dime-thin gap between the warped wooden door at the bottom of the root cellar and cracks in the basement floor.
And at 3 AM on Monday, Autumn arrived. In our bedroom, wedging itself between the baseboard and the bookcase while the cats chirped in protest and curiosity.
I moved the bookcase to give the cats better access. The Mouse, which I refuse to name, sprinted into the big wicker basket that holds my wool stash. I might never knit again.
The cats lose interest. It’s not prey or the enemy or a flea-ridden carrier of disease. It’s the best toy since the microwave box. They take a nap while I return to bed and have troubling dreams about knitting tiny toques for big-eyed rodents.
The next day we set a “trap” with a cardboard box, a stick and some string. It looks like something out of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I bait it with pine nuts. I place $5 worth of bait beneath the angled box and question my intelligence. All this sits on a large tray so that when The Mouse falls for my cunning plan, I can simply carry the entire contraption, mouse and all, across the road to the park. I will humanely return Autumn — yes, I have now named the mouse — to the wild. I am sure he won’t find his way back.
As I carefully form the pine nuts into an enticing pile, Autumn emerges from the wool. Before I can move, he shoots down the stairs and dives into an air vent. The cats, recharging on the bed, yawn and cover their eyes with a paw. From fatigue or shame, I’m not sure. My trap is nothing but a tripping hazard for the humans in the house.
This is only Day 4 of Autumn. I dread what Winter will bring.
An Autumn Menu
While I do the cats’ work, here are some recipes to get you through the cooler weather. Perhaps some will make it to your Thanksgiving table.
Roasted Tomato Soup with Sage: This simple soup has little chopping. The onions, garlic and tomatoes are all roasted in the oven before being made into a sherry-splashed soup.
Cumin Carrots with Cilantro Vinaigrette: A simple side with warm spices and sweet honey is perfect served warm or at room temperature.
Apple Roasted Chicken: This is one of our family’s go-to dishes when the cold weather hits. It’s no-fail in every way. The chicken is always tender and the flavours appeal to all ages.
Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie with Candied Pumpkin Seeds: A change of pace from the average pumpkin pie. Candied pumpkin seeds go on top. A ginger crust lurks below.
Concord Grape Pie with Crumb Topping: This is not your nice, gentle pie. It’s tart and sweet and very intense. It takes a bit of time but is worth the effort and stained fingers. Top with whipped cream or a side of Concord Grape Sherbet.