The first day of Fall!
Although I love the summer season, and all it represents in longer days, warm weather, sunshine, fresh fruits and vegetables from the gardens and farm stands, children giggling and enjoying their time off from school in ‘play time’, reunions, and spending more time with family, friends, and in recreation. The autumn season brings abundance as harvests are reaped from spring seedlings, and matured into summer’s bounty.
With autumn, daylight is shortening, days and nights are cooler, the big yellow school busses are once again on the roadways, and we’re back to schedules, timelines, and plans. Fall sports are in full swing, and beauty is observed and appreciated as green leaves slowly begin to turn beautiful shades of red orange and yellow. And, in the animal world, the squirrels are gathering their supply for the winter, and serve as a reminder to prepare for the days ahead. How are you preparing?
My grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great-grandparents lived a long, full life in their time. My great-great-grandparents lived to 100 years young. Was that almost unheard of back in the day? So, I asked myself, how did they live and survive? What did I analyze? Food, of course! First, they lived in Italy and ate a Mediterranean diet. Second, they lived off of the land. Third, they prepared, cooked, and preserved all of their food. They ate according to availability and season. The land provided fresh fruits, vegetables, olives, nuts, and berries. Their animals provided proteins in eggs, milk, meats and fats. The chickens gifted fresh eggs each morning for breakfast, and fresh milk was on tap! They ate what was seasonal and available. Their own cheeses and salamis were prepared, and in the fishing villages, good fortune was found in fresh fish available to them. And, let us not forget the wine and olive oil?
Past generations survived without fast food, corner grocery stores, refrigeration, and food preservatives. Actually, if my great-grandmother, Cesira (Jessica), were alive today, she would ask “what is a food preservative????” Food preservation consisted of drying, canning, or pickling.
How does this equate to our world today? Those teachings were passed along as a way of life, living, and survival. Today it is becoming necessary in taking a few steps back from our hurried worlds to get back to some basics. Our health is our responsibility, and we owe optimal health to ourselves and our future generations.
A new season of abundance brings forth great opportunity. Today, most of us shop for our food. Today, begin by taking the first step and reading the food labels of the foods you are purchasing, preparing, and supplying your body, and those you care for. If you cannot pronounce an ingredient, or it is unrecognizable, you know what Cesira (Jessica) would ask????
A Taste of Autumn ~ Squash, Apples and Yams
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 large yam, peeled and chopped
3 Golden Delicious apples, seeded and chopped
3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
2 Tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
sea salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Prepare squash, yam, apples, and garlic according to peeling, chopping and seeding. Add to a mixing bowl and toss with olive oil and salt and pepper. Layer a single-layer of the veggies on the foil-lined pan and lay the fresh thyme sprigs on top. Bake for 40 minutes at 400 degrees, turning once after 20 minutes. As the veggies bake, they will caramelize and their sugars released. After baking, remove and discard thyme leaves (except if you would like to use as a garnish). With a spatula, remove veggies and place on a serving dish and serve. Serves approximately 4 – 6.