Some folks say that during the warmer weather months their mind wanders and they tend drifting toward laziness, but for me, the wander begins early fall. To begin with, the first early mornings of chill make me want to roll myself into a tight ball under the covers and drift right back to sleep another fifteen minutes, then another fifteen minutes.
Following my early morning chat with the Mom’s at the bus stop and a smiling wave to my grandson, the J-Dude, while clear vision of the double windows between the bright yellow of the school bus spurts forward, I make my way back down the narrow street on either side of my short walk home. The early chilly days expose the first of crumbled brown leaves crunched and torn against the stones lining the pathways making space for the new varied shapes and hues that will shortly highlight color splendor to the blacktop in between and covering surrounding green lawns.
Beginning to appear from front stoops and mailbox gardens to discreet crevices at neighbors homes my thoughts vacillate toward the large and small mums as they emerge displayed, different colors of yellows, whites, and deep purples before drifting to pumpkins, apples, and the root vegetables just appearing at the farms and markets. A steaming cup of pumpkin spice coffee hardly inspires the vigor to sit still and write for I feel as a frenzied squirrel rapidly gathering acorns darting from one tree to the next and I crave activity, fall activity.
I want to cook.
I want to freeze foods.
I want to houseclean, move some furniture around.
I want to decorate things.
I want to shop.
I want to plant kale and spinach in the garden.
I want to pick apples.
I want to go on a hayride and run through a corn maze with the J-Dude.
I want to buy root vegetables at the local Farm.
I want to read books and cookbooks and glossy magazines sharing yet again the best fall pies ever.
I want to listen to jazz music, and hear Frank Sinatra sing autumn in New York.
I want to light candles.
I want to hear clinking of the bulbous round glasses filled with red wine sharing time with friends.
I want to buy firewood and build a big crackling fire, or two, or three or more.
Same thing each year, even the many years working professionally and sometimes an hour away, its as if I cannot settle myself until each of these seasonal tasks have been fulfilled. Just as traditions of food have been romanticized through the ages, so too always are my falls. I cannot explain why fall cleaning my house or preparing ten soups at once for the winter is fun, especially doing this in between work, on the way home or in between weekend games. In fact looking back, the same as I often hear other mother’s of grown children say, I’m not even sure how I did it all. However, this particular time of the year for me even the most mundane or tedious of tasks emerge, well, with pure delight and pleasure, except getting out of bed early on a chilly morning that is.
Sidetracked are some of my activities planning towards and preparing for the weekend Team Family Tailgates and the travel, some things coincide harmoniously, or these have grown to be so. Traveling to different places and taking in the scenic routes along the way is an added bonus in the fall assuring miles upon miles of splendidly colorful views before spending an afternoon in the fresh air while watching your favorite sports team play then afterward sharing the Tailgate Table among the players and families, fans, friends.
Temperatures falling into that perfect climate range last weekend enabled the scenario providing a broad range of foods on the Tailgate table sort of the in-between season delight, such as using lots of fresh garden mint and parsley from my garden along with the last of the fresh tomatoes in creating a Bulgur Salad. This years garden crop of curly parsley was much too fragrant and tasty to use for garnish and was wholeheartedly welcomed into any fresh salad dish.
Accompanied with the Bulgur Salad, I prepared Turkish Style Kabobs that we ended up grilling two days since we had a half grill malfunction shortly into the first game day preparation of the weekend. Believe it or not, in the somewhere over two hundred skewers prepared, I actually forgot to photograph a couple of Grilled Kabobs, see what I mean on my fall mind wander? Still, both of the game weekend entrée items went well with some of the other fall specials peeking their way into our menus such as some fresh local apple cider, and some spiced fall cookies.
Meanwhile, though I’ve merely begun most of my fall to-do list, in the shopping segment I have purchased a La Caja China grill roaster. La Caja China even fits into my fall wander as I dream up the preparation of a whole pig that we shall cook on our front yard on the evening the Team and visiting families come to dinner early November. This will also be the final tour in Pennsylvania for my youngest, Alex the Athlete, as the following day marks her final ‘league’ game in collegiate sports. Sort of sad like the brown crunchy leaves lining the narrow street and at the same time like the beautiful shades and hues of colored leaves ushering in a future new type of bright season ahead.
Later as mums take to wither, gently interwoven the earlier frenzy of fall activities culminates satisfaction, the bounty from the gathering, the collecting, the creating, warm comfort foods, a hot apple pie, the glow of a fire. Each tied in the list once beckoned among fall wants and tasks to measuring volumes through love and memories, friendships and good times, really the simple joys within providing pleasures and meaning at the shared table.
- 2 cups Cracked Wheat Bulgur
- 2-3 Cucumbers, small size, Kirby cucumbers with thinner skins, seeded if desired, then chopped
- 2-3 small Tomatoes, seeded, if desired, chopped then drained to remove excess liquid
- 4 Thin Scallions, chopped
- 1/2 cup Fresh Parsley, chopped
- 1/2 cup Fresh Mint, chopped
- Juice of 2-2 1/2 Lemons, seeded and strained
- 1/8 cup Olive Oil, or a bit more
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Rinse cracked wheat, Bulgur, using a fork then lightly spread across a wide shallow pan. Gently stir in boiling water separating the grains and immediately cover with a tight fitting lid and let sit covered for an hour. Meanwhile prepare vegetable and herb ingredients and juice lemons. When Bulgur is cooled, gently stir in ingredients one at a time. Stir in lemon juice, then olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until serving, taste and adjust seasoning, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
- The day before the event separately prep the tomatoes, scallions, cucumbers, mint, parsley and lemon juice into separate containers. Spread cooked bulgur across a long glass dish or plastic container gently forking so that all of the grains are separated then gently stir through only 1 Tablespoon olive oil and refrigerate covered until travel time.
- Before Traveling again gently fork through the bulgur so all grains are separated. Add in prep ingredients one at a time stirring gently between each addition. Next, stir in most of the lemon juice keeping a little aside in a tight fitting travel container to add to taste at serving time. Gently stir through the olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.