Welcome to our September edition of Cooking Along with the Cottage Cooking Club where monthly our group of food and travel bloggers from throughout the world gather together to share prepared recipes from the cookbook “River Cottage veg everyday!” written by British cookbook author and television personality, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
Each month our talented and fearless leader, Andrea, of “The Kitchen Lioness, notes from a very small German Kitchen,” provides a list of recipes from within the book’s pages, and members then each commit their choices from among these designated categories of vegetable dishes. The process engages a collective opportunity in the ongoing preparation among the seasonal bounty of fresh vegetables in many diverse ways.
As we work our way through the book, we have the opportunity for nourishment, not only in the meals that we prepare, but in the friendship of the community that we continue to build, and in the welcome of those who would also like to join us at our collective shared table.
In our shared meals over the month of September, we enjoyed a make-up month, that is, one offering flexibility in choosing any from among the pasts months’ recipes, an opportunity to go back and select recipes during the in-between season, those summer crops still abundant while rapidly finishing their flourish, and those vegetables brightly emerging in the colorful roots of autumn, many that will sustain us over the cooler months ahead. Above, I prepared a simple salad of Fennel and goat’s cheese macerated in fresh lemon juice and olive oil. Looking back on the month of September, when early on, fennel did not look so good at the market and came at a high price, causes me now to reflect back and wonder, where did the time go?
Of course, there is the obvious in the fall, as the children resume school and one is occupied with filling out countless forms, Back to School Night, fundraisers, school pictures, music classes, after-school activities, and daily homework. This year my grandson, the J-Dude, began running cross country. He loves it, and won his first ribbon at his first city meet in Philadelphia a couple of weeks back. The training is a few nights a week then requiring an early dinner with time to digest before the evening run, and shortening my day with a bit less time to accomplish things. But these are the sort of things we do for our families, and especially those things that make them happy, ultimately bringing us more joy.
And so, speaking of families, and the importance of the family brings me to the past weekend when the Holy Father, beloved Pope Francis, was in Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families. There was then no running meet, and so I prepared the sensational Baby beet tarte tatin, shown above, to enjoy as we watched the local Papal news coverage on his departure. This is the third time I’ve prepared the dish, but the first time it was photographed as we always seem to have served it past the window of sunlight. In fact, this month, due to such a busy schedule, I prepared each of the Cottage Cooking Club dishes over the weekend watching more hours of television covering the papal visit than I could remember since being sick with chicken pox as a child. But then, I remembered one other time, the grievous day of 9/11. That day which took away the lives of Americans caused strife in their families, and forever affected many of our freedoms as Americans. The site of the 9/11 Memorial was also a visit on the Papal Visit in New York as part of an interreligious service, which I also watched, calling people over the world a place in our hearts for greater tolerance, understanding, peace, and love.
Leading up to the arrival of Pope Francis in Philadelphia and the region presented a great many challenges, many of which, due to the nature of today’s security, and, such a volume of people coming into the city for the World Meeting of Families, the frustration on our local folk’s ability to get into the city to see the Pope. There were train lotteries and tickets, and streets, highways, and bridges were closed off, some as much as a week in advance. Many businesses and schools were closed down.
Too late I realized I should have taken my grandson out of school and down to Washington, DC where there was much greater accessibility in getting a glimpse. There was much disappointment by the local community eventually resigned to staying home and viewing the activities as they transpired. Strangely, this ended up, not disappointing, but lifting up, for on clear screening, presented in its entirety, was each magical moment that touched the hearts and lives of so, so many, including me. Most of all too, I loved the part where families, who had come from throughout the world, provided testimony to their own family lives, not their perfections, but some of their struggles, and ways they had found inspired grace and strength through them. It was so truly moving, as was the response of Pope Francis and his understanding of people’s lives in families, some of which, he animatedly expressed, may even on occasion ‘have plates flying.’ Not that any food blogger would dare ever think of losing a plate at such a moment.
A church and its people so in need of healing found inspiration on this visit. As Pope Francis gave his final blessing at the top of the airplane steps in Philadelphia, I found tears rolling down my eyes, an inexplicable sadness in his departure, for despite the inconveniences and disappointment in not seeing him in person, more so than for those days he filled my house with inspiration, peace, love, and too, even in the sharing of each dish of our Cottage Cooking Club foods together.
Late Saturday afternoon I prepared the Red Cabbage, parsnip, orange, and date salad shown above. Delicious.
And then, we got a bit of a chuckle trying out a fresh simplicity, Radishes with butter and salt. We liked it.
And for dinner, we enjoyed the Stuffed cabbage leaves using blanched Napa cabbage, all rolled up with a cooked barley combination before topping with fresh garden tomato sauce, dotted with sour cream. In some ways a rather humble dish, enjoyed by all.
The Leek and cheese toastie served as the hors d’oeuvre, and a reminder just as many religions and diverse beliefs from throughout the world implore in so many languages, ‘give us this day, our daily bread.’ One needn’t be a mystic in the appreciation of our daily food, or, in the coming together to nourish through sustenance and community at the shared table. But in this bread, a simple appreciation, topped with whatever one chooses, from the plain, the simple, the abundant, just as in this dedication of the weekend celebrating the visit of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, may we each throughout the world, share in the embracing of life’s feast. Amen.
To see what other members of the Cottage Cooking Club have posted as transpires click here.