Recipes come in all shapes and sizes. The better intent of a recipe is to provide satisfaction, not just sustenance. For Suzen, her favorite recipes are bread. You’ve seen pictures at times of the extraordinary breads she can makes. Constantly makes, I must say. Even when she is drop dead tired from doing corporate team building events at Cooking by the Book, you can always find Suzen on Saturday or Sunday afternoon [or both], with her ovens on, flour flying at the baking station, and cookbooks being flipped through for still another new bread idea. She makes, I swear, Paris-class bread.
But for Suzen there is one other recipe that brings total satisfaction. Our weekend house in the Catskills sits in a saddlepoint surrounded by mountains. The Esopus River is down the hill, two miles down the hill on the highway. And right there, not “quite” at our doorstop, is a century-old house with two marvelous trees that were planted many decades ago. The trunks are ten feet apart, the branches have now grown so that the trees are as entangled as two waltzers. Regardless of season, the trees are exceptional. In the spring, they are contrasting greens. In summer, they are lushly intermingled. In winter, two sets of brown and gray branches wind around each other.
But in fall, in the fall, the trees are dramatic. People driving by slow down. We often stop. And yesterday we took this shot. It’s very beautiful. The colors seem surreal perhaps. No, this scene is not the product of hours at Photoshop. It’s just God and fall.
I’m sure that somewhere near you, there is an equally wonderful natural recipe that you may not have noticed. Just walk or drive a bit more slowly, keep you eyes wide, and something wonderful is bound to pop into your life. We’ve enjoyed this tree for 13 years. I’m sure we’ll get another 13 more.
That picture? It’s a photo haiku. A short reminder of where we are. Summer is rapidly slipping into fall. I found these red leaves on the ground one morning. I looked up to see what tree they had come from. No tree had red at all. These portents of autumn had turned red and fallen overnight.
Soon though, the trees will be blustering red and orange and brown. Each day will have changes that appear right before our eyes. And with those visual changes, our food opportunities change too. Each week the apples will be different, the corn not at all the same as the week before.
This weekend, tomorrow, I start giving you a round of early fall recipes. A cold drink for warm days. Some warm syrups for cold mornings, syrups to put on special pancakes and waffles.
That strip of green in the picture? It’s a fragment of corn husk. One day old, and velvety to the touch. I’m just like you. I strip the husk off the corn and toss it away. It’s only by accident that this piece was lying around and I was able to touch it and realize how lovely a leftover could be.
As the days go by and we see all the changes about us, just pause for a moment. Or an hour. Let autumn fill your eyes and your nostrils.
And, get ready for some fall cooking!