|Michaelmas Daisies - October 2013|
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the deathbed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
William Shakespeare - Sonnet 73 (1609)
This time last year I was admiring a magnificent dog fox in my back garden. It seems as if one of the local lady foxes had caught his eye and later this year I enjoyed watching their three cubs playing. Several people commented that foxes are absolute pests but I was pleased that I had been able to see the youngster rollicking around the lawn. Needless to say, I am now feeling a little less than charitable since the cute cubs have grown up to be boisterous troublemakers. Their game of foxy bagatelle has them careering off the fruit bushes and I have lost most of this year's gooseberries and tomatoes to their destruction. The final straw came when I realised that a pair of wet trainers that I had left outside the kitchen door to dry had been shredded in a game of tug-of-war. The foxes' cute sheen has definitely worn off!
While last autumn was boiling hot, this year's so called Indian Summer has failed to materialise. It really is the time for all those early autumn fruit and vegetables such as apples and pears and perfect British root vegetables such as Jerusalem artichokes and celeriac.
Of course this is the best time of the year for foraging mushrooms, or even just letting someone else do the work for you and buy the results at the local farmers' market. I have been making a lot of my own preserves over the past few years and happily, loving the end results, from plum jam to damson gin, raspberry jam to chutneys and pickles.
The first Bramley apples are now in season, as are plums and pears. And don't forget this is the beginning of crumble season! The Jerusalem artichoke season is just beginning and cauliflowers are at their peak, together with main crop potatoes and carrots, sprouts, and broccoli. Lettuce is running out by the middle of the month, and courgettes finish towards the end. But by the end of the month, pumpkins and squashes will be piling up (and I do like my pumpkin soup. Actually I love my mushroom soup too . . . perfect for the cold, damp evenings which are slowly sneaking around).
vegetables, herbs and wild greens:
artichokes (globe), artichokes (Jerusalem), aubergines, beetroot, borlotti beans (for podding), broccoli (calabrese), Brussels sprouts, cabbages (various green varieties, red and white), carrots, cardoons, cauliflower, celeriac, chard, chanterelles, chicory, chillies, courgettes, cucumber, endive, fennel, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, leeks, marrow, mushrooms, nettles, onions, parsnips, peppers, potatoes, pumpkins (and squashes), rocket, salsify, spinach, tomatoes, turnips, watercress, wood blewits
fruit and nuts:
apples, blackberries, chestnuts, crab apples, cranberries, damsons, elderberries, grapes (English hothouse), hazelnuts, juniper berries, medlars, mulberries, pears, quince, raspberries, rosehips, rowan berries, sloes, walnuts
meat and game:
beef, chicken, goose (wild), grouse, guinea fowl, hare, mallard, mutton, partridge, pork, rabbit, turkey, wood pigeon
fish and shellfish:
cockles, cod, crab (brown, hen and spider), eels, hake, lobster, mackerel, mussels, oysters (native and rock), prawns, river trout (brown and rainbow), salmon (wild), scallops, sea bass, shrimp, sprats, squid