Monthly Archive for October 2012
Here in Chicago, we’ve reached that time of year when the leaves on the trees are outnumbered by the leaves that pad the sidewalks, crunching underfoot (or, these days, under the stroller wheels). When dinner is increasingly eaten after the sunsets. When the farmers’ markets are winding down, or preparing to move to their scaled-down, winter locations. And when at least one early morning walk has required a big scarf or even a knit hat.
It’s when a panic sets in. After summer’s seeming endlessness, autumn, my hands-down favorite of all the seasons, is suddenly waning. I do the only sensible thing to combat such panic: I stockpile canned pumpkin and I preheat the oven. Or warm the waffle iron. Or set the soup pot over a flame. Well—you get the picture. This annual panic means that I start cooking and baking with pumpkin, and frequently. Halloween just ups the ante, emanating that candle-burnt-pumpkin-flesh aroma, which sends me straight into the kitchen.
We hosted a brunch on Sunday morning. Or, rather: we hosted a brunch on Sunday! Yes, us—the ones with the little baby girl. The ones who not so long ago were subsisting on food delivered by others, and dining to the charming (not) chirping bird sounds that emanate from Avery’s bouncy chair (that still happens, mind you, and those bird noises shall forever haunt my dreams).
It wasn’t the first time we’ve cooked for others since our family’s ranks swelled from two to three. There was a barbecue when Avery was a week-and-a-half old, which ended with a screaming baby (and also some delicious brownies). And there have been sporadic meals for family and friends, all of which have involved large amounts of help and luck. But this brunch was different. I spent a few days dreaming up a menu, and thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of preparing the spread, from food shopping to cooking to plattering it up. The morning itself was lovely—my in-laws and my mom and my little family all ate in our living room, plates balanced on our knees as we caught up and passed the baby. It was a meal that made me feel like we’re actually getting the hang of this.