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Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Gleaning of Autumn's Harvest

It's warm here in our patch of New England. Despite the blustery campaign of the wind outside and some clouds in the distance threatening to quash all prospects of fair weather, it's warm enough to open the windows, put on shorts and dally with dreams of one final sumptuous barbeque. Weather here comes with a moderate warning at all times. As Mark Twain is reputed to have said, and as we New Englander's live by as a sort of unofficial motto, "If you don't like the weather, wait a minute".

We had rain the night before, with the blustery-verging-on-storm type of wind rattling the vinyl siding and the window panes that are in dire need of re-caulking, which made the entire cottage sound like a sub-bass kazoo. Just as the warm weather is inviting, encouraging us to take one more bike ride or foothill hike, the mild rain storms are equally comforting, calling us to set still and read or reflect and write in journals. There is a sense of rightness about the world and our lives lingering in both. After the rain I went out to the garden to seek out tomatoes and tomatillos for dinner plans. The plants had taken on a low leaning crookedness to their once tall and vigorous stature, looking like undisciplined bonsai plants. Although we're at the end of harvest season for tomatoes and tomatillos, they either haven't gotten the memo or are ignoring it altogether. The tomatillos still have several dozen husks in differing stages of development, and every other day I come back with a container of fruit.

We are preparing for the winter by stocking up with containers of tomatoes and tomatillos, which have taken up a good portion of the freezer. Both are high on our list of favorite food staples. That's good. We'll be having plenty of it, and frequently. It gives you a little more insight into why there are so many variations of the same thing in Italian and Mexican food.

This past week Cheryl made a Sweet Potato Quesadilla from a recipe she found in Barbara Kingsolver's book "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle". The recipe is pretty simple, and I'll include it here, but we recommend that you get the book as well. It is a great resource for anyone interested in living simply by using what you grow or what is available locally and in season. Cheryl followed the recipe as written, except she substituted Saint-André cheese for the brie. The results were a delicious version of the traditional quesadilla which we'll be having again.

Here is the recipe, which I borrowed from "A Foodie's Guide to Getting Through the Year":

Sweet Potato Quesadillas


2 medium sweet potatoes
4 flour tortillas
1/2 onion
4 oz Brie or other medium soft cheese
1 clove garlic
2-3 leaves Swiss chard (or other greens)
1 Tbsp oregano
1 Tbsp basil
1 tsp cumin
Chile powder to taste
Olive oil for saute

  1. Cut sweet potatoes into chunks, cook in steamer basket or microwave until soft, then mash.
  2. Chop and saute garlic and onion in a large skillet. Add spices and sweet potato and mix well, adding a little water if it's too sticky. Turn burner very low to keep warm without burning.
  3. Preheat oven to 400.
  4. Oil a large baking sheet, spread tortillas on it to lightly oil one side, then spread filling on half of each.
  5. Top with slices of Brie and shredded chard, then fold tortillas to close (oiled side out). Bake until browned and crisp (about 15 minutes); cute into wedges for serving.

I highly recommend using my recipe for Roasted Tomatillo Salsa with the quesadillas. Especially if you happen to have more tomatillos than you know what to do with.

Be sure to share some with a friend.

Bon Appétit!