Autumn in Montreal

When the leaves begin to fall from the trees around these parts and the Canadian geese fill the skies, some folks smile with delight at the vibrant colours of the fall foliage. Other folks, a group which I belong to, see it in a different light. For me, autumn signals the death of the leaves and the beginning of the onset of winter, which means the end of fresh local produce. This being said, I am now in high gear to "put by" for the cold months. The earth obviously feels the same way, because it has provided me with the bounty to make all these great foodstuffs. My community garden plot gave me tomatoes, beets, kale, herbs galore, heirloom beans, and many other edibles. The beans I planted were "Royal Burgundy" and some other French butter bean, both of which I saved a few for next year’s garden – you can see a photo of some "Royal Burgundy" beans in the slide show. They are pretty cool beans; they are purple when you harvest them but turn green when you cook them. Even more curiously, the dried beans are white. My CSA harvested more tomatoes than they know what to do with, so I have made out like a bandit and have been struggling to keep up with the bounty.

My last six days have been filled with making:

  • six liters of borscht
  • 5 liters of tomato sauce
  • three liters of autumn squash apple cider soup
  • a big batch of pesto
  • five turkey pot pies
  • a large batch of gaspacho

That list is only what I’ve made to store for the upcoming winter and does not include our meals, which have been nothing short of fantastic. My freezer is now full, which means I will have to ask my parents if I can use part of their freezer because I just located a source of pastured pork and have ordered half a pig. I also got 5 chickens this week and am waiting on 5 more. I’ll leave the meat for another post.

The borscht was made from vegetables that came from either my own community garden plot or my CSA. I used the recipe from "The Moosewood Cookbook" (Mollie Katzen) but I used turkey broth and omitted the raisins and caraway seeds. I made this soup last year and it was by far our favourite.

The tomato sauce recipe was from Marcella Hazan‘s "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking". It calls for nothing more than tomatoes, onion, butter and salt. Simple and to the point. I will be able to use this for almost anything during the winter; soups, curries, sauces, de-skunking, etc.

The squash soup is also a regular winter soup in our home, and I used the recipe from The CIA’s "The New Professional Chef" for autumn squash apple cider soup. I omitted the white wine (I didn’t have an open bottle) and used my own home made cider from last year. The recipe calls for butternut squash but I used delicata and turban because that’s what my CSA gave me. The photo of the 3 roasted squash also includes a spaghetti squash which we ate that night for dinner, doused with butter and salt. I think I will be buying some more squash this week.

The ‘pesto’ is not really pesto. I’ve already made 2 decent-sized batches of actual pesto this summer but my CSA insisted that I take more basil from them this week and I just couldn’t disappoint those nice farmers. This batch is just basil and olive oil which I food-processed and froze in ice cube trays before putting the cubes in a ziploc into the freezer. The earlier batches were made from basil, olive oil, garlic and pine nuts – I add the cheese when I defrost. That recipe is also from Marcella Hazan.

The turkey pot pies are also a winter staple around here. I use leftover turkey from our Rosh Hashanah dinner or sometimes our Thanksgiving feast. I make stock with the turkey carcass that I use in almost all the soups I make and also to make the sauce for the pot pies. I used carrots and potatoes from my CSA but I had no peas, so I will sheepishly admit that I used a can of LeSieur peas. Everything is cooked except the dough, which cooks when it comes out of the freezer – the perfect comfort meal for a winter’s day.

This batch of gaspacho was my 3rd and final of the summer. I diced tomatoes, cucumber, kohlrabi, green peppers, and also threw in some chopped dill, parsley, cilantro, and chives. The veggies were from my CSA and the herbs were from my balcony herb garden, except for the cilantro, which I bought. I finished it off by adding some oilve oil, Nova Scotia honey and apple cider vinegar. This is literally an explosion of freshness in your mouth. This recipe is also from "The Moosewood Cookbook".

I still have a pretty big bowl of tomatoes left and I think I will make a batch of salsa tomorrow, inspired by the many posts about canning by Jennifer, who is now regular contributor to the Ethicurean.

All this cooking inspired me to go beyond scrambled eggs this morning so I dug into my copy of "Mangoes & Curry Leaves" (Jeffrey Alford & Naomi Duguid) and found Andhra scrambled eggs. This was while I was making the squash soup at 9:00am. Me-ten-years-ago would never have believed me-2007 would be awake at 9:00am making soup I wasn’t even going to eat right away. Times have changed, but it was a delicious breakfast and it gave me the chance to use a few more tomatoes from my pile.



6 Responsesto “Autumn in Montreal”

  1. brad says:

    I hadn’t thought of using kohlrabi in gazpacho, I’ll have to try that. I just made some pickled kohlrabi, which is delicious and one of my favourites for this time of year — take three kohlrabi and two large carrots, peel and slice into thin sticks and place in a large jar along with three or four large sprigs of dill and a bay leaf. Then boil 3/4 cup of white vinegar, a cup and a half of water, a teaspoon or so of dill seed, and a half-teaspoon of brown mustard seed, a pinch of cayenne or red pepper flakes, and pour it into the jar, being sure there’s enough liquid to cover (if not, mix up some more boiling water and vinegar). Let it sit in the fridge for three or four days before eating. This one’s from Renée Shepherd’s “Recipes from a Kitchen Garden” books.

  2. brad says:

    Whoops, I forgot that you want to include some sugar and salt in that pickled kohlrabi recipe as well…I think it’s a tablespoon or two of sugar and one teaspoon of salt.

  3. Wow, go you, Peter! That all looks really fantastic and delicious, and your photos do it all justice. I love the sound of the autumn squash soup, and I’ll be there for dinner! ;-)

    I’m with Brad… never heard of putting kohlrabi into gazpacho, but it sounds great. (I’m a big fan of the stuff.) Thanks for sharing your pickled kohlrabi recipe, Brad… I’ll have to try that next year.

  4. Carrie says:

    Wow! I am completely impressed. And glad to hear I’m not the only one who starts scurrying about at the end of summer season like a frantic squirrel.

    I live in Minnesota, so we’ve got to capitalize on our harvest bounty when it all comes in.

    (I love that you save the soup in yogurt containers – that’s my M.O., too!)

  5. Katie says:

    This is going to help me a LOT.  I, too, am in Minnesota, so I have to get on the fall storage thing this year.  I was NOT able to keep up with Laura at Urban Hennery’s “Dark Days Challenge” the way many others were.