When I woke up this morning, it was raining. I forget sometimes how abrupt it is, the switch between the warm days on Indian summer and the soggy days of late fall and winter. Today is grey and dour, a good day for skulking inside. My skulking was greatly assisted by the fact that I stepped on a shard of glass and can’t seem to get it out of my foot, and am therefore reduced to limping about like an angry pelican. Every now and then I optimistically think it might have worked its way out and try putting my whole weight on it, and am rewarded with a searing pain that appears to actually be terminating in my soul.
My natural response to cold weather is to commence cooking overdrive, like most individuals I know. Unfortunately, we have so many leftovers right now that cooking more food is not really advisable, and may result in blacklisting me from the kitchen, which is a great tragedy, because winter is the time for some of my favourite foods.
Starting with mushrooms. Let me tell you, the mushrooms are in season, and if I didn’t live on a toxic dump I’d be out foraging right now. Black chantrelles, black trumpets, matsutakes, and hedgehogs in a cream sauce is a splendid thing which almost causes me physical pain to ponder. I like mushrooms on toast, in soups and sauces, tossed with Chinese food, and in scrambled eggs. And I don’t even like scrambled eggs. I like mushroom ice cream, mushroom pate, and mushroom pancakes. Bring on the mushrooms, I say. I’m hoping there will be an intriguing assortment at the Farmer’s Market on Sunday.
Squash. I heart me some squash. Winter squash is so varied and amazing that it really brings a tear to the eye. There’s creamy buttercup, spunky spaghetti squash, and acorn, which is delicious roasted with a drizzling of goat cheese and a hint of brown sugar. There are squash soups and squash stir fries, squash on the side and squash in the middle. There’s something about the whole squash process, with the roasting which warms the house and fills it with delicious scents, that is very wintery and excellent. Soon I’ll be busting out with the pumpkin pies, although I could do with a really excellent pumpkin pie recipe, instead of a merely decent one.
Cranberries. I usually buy them and freeze them so that I can feast on their tart red goodness through January. Cranberry sauce is, of course, obligatory at all times after 10 November, but I also love cranberry tarts with a good layer of thick chocolate on top. Cranberries are just so exciting, this burst of vibrant red color that screams “eat me,” with that sassy undernote of bitterness which puckers the mouth momentarily and causes you to reach for the egg nog.
Ah, winter. Some people go into hibernation: I merely cook in a neverending frenzy until Easter, when I sit replete at a table covered in the remains of a massive meal, burping gently and gnawing on bones.