Monthly Archive for October 2010
Okay, so I know that Tuesday night is approximately the least opportune time to tell you all about pumpkin pancakes. For the great majority of us, pancakes are a strictly weekend endeavor. And I get that. I think of pancakes as the breakfast-time counterpart to dinner-time’s risotto: they require you to stand at the stove for a stretch of time, repeating the same motions over and over and over (pancakes: ladle the batter onto a sizzling-hot griddle, cook, flip, repeat; risotto: ladle the broth into a hot pan of arborio, cook, stir, repeat). And you can taste all that attention, all that love, all that patience when you sit down at the breakfast table to eat the pancakes (or, dinner table, in the case of risotto). But, maple-syrup-ed taste-of-love notwithstanding, pancakes simply do not factor into my Monday through Friday. They have no place in the pre-work rush.
Instead, they are best saved for a lazy weekend morning, when the smell of strong, freshly-brewed coffee hangs in the air, when the air is still and quiet and the light is filtered, when the promise of the day—a weekend day—stretches out before you, long and luxurious. That’s the time to fire up the griddle. And, sitting here on Tuesday, I realize that we’re nowhere near Saturday morning. (Do I ever.)
In the winter, I generally gravitate toward comfort foods. In spring, I look forward to the first’s: asparagus, strawberries, radishes. In the summer, I’m usually too busy to think much about food—just a juicy tomato, sprinkled with salt and pepper, will do. In the fall, though, it’s different. In the fall, I crave. In the fall, I stop dead in my tracks and I say to myself: I must, right this minute, right now, not one minute more, grill a sandwich, a grilled cheese sandwich, which, in my opinion, is the pinnacle of all sandwiches.
But it’s fall—the season of specific, urgent cravings—so it doesn’t stop there. Oh, no. Instead, the cheese must be cheddar: white and very sharp, or smoked at the very least. There must be thinly sliced apples, too, sweet and crunchy ones (honeycrisp!). And, of course, autumn is the season for seeded wheat breads, so the vehicle for this sandwich will be two slices of that. Not just a grilled cheese, but a grilled-apple-and-cheese. Because it’s autumn, you know.
So, the thing is, I’m too busy to be writing this post. Not to mention too exhausted. But this recipe, for bourbon butterscotch sauce, is haunting me. Since I made it on Saturday, I can’t get it out of my head. I’m pretty sure the only way to exorcise this demon is by foisting the demon on you all.
You’re welcome! But, don’t worry, I’ll make this quick.
Fall, to me, is home. Not home, now. But home home. Minnesota. It’s the blazes of crimson and gold and orange that wash the trees. It’s the still-green grass, shivering under the first frosts. It’s the big blue sky—so clear that it looks like a matte print. It’s the chill in that air, the one that makes your eyes water and that has you tugging your sweater up up around your neck. It’s the crunch of an a shiny apple and the heat of an oven in a homey kitchen and the sweetness of slowly-baked squash. It’s the smell of wood smoke in the air and grilled breakfast sausages at the Minneapolis farmers’ market and earthy piles of leaves.
Sure, the season happens in Chicago (my other home home) too, but for some reason it feels muted, dulled. Maybe because the falls of my childhood were spent running around soccer fields and anticipating the school year ahead and jumping into giant piles of leaves and cheering at Friday night football games and paging through fat J. Crew catalogs and feeling so much older! than the I had during the previous fall. Now, I spend my fall in front of a computer in a very tall building, running from dry cleaners to grocery store to gym to to to … , lamenting the shrinking daylight hours, fearing the winter that looms ahead—oh, and feeling so much older (note the lack of an exclamation point, here) than I had during the previous fall.