Today, the fog lasted until almost eleven. For awhile, the wind was just whipping through my clothes, and I could briefly see the fog of my breath. I was cold enough to wear a sweater, and drank a gallon of hot tea in perfect, gray-fog bliss. Briefly this morning I could pretend that September in California means that there will be cold arriving shortly, a crisp rime of frost on the sidewalk, ruddy hued leaves and sharp winds under cerulean skies.
Unfortunately? September in California means maybe an extension on summer’s “short lease.” It gets hot. Hotter, sometimes, than it’s been in August. The leaves don’t start doing anything noteworthy until almost November, and by then, rain is threatening, and you’re feeling rushed. The fine weather lasts so long that the slow transition doesn’t seem to exist here. It’s funny… I’ve lived here my entire life, and I still somehow expect it — a gradual decline into a colder time. However, that’s not going to happen, because it’s just not time for all of that yet.
Still, I can feel it coming. It doesn’t help that the stores have squash out, there are gourds in my garden, Halloween sales start Labor Day Weekend, and the cornfield near the church has scarecrows. It’s a bit crazy-making, trying to resist the lure of cooler nights and dim, foggy mornings. So, I don’t. I am officially beginning autumn today. I’ve started with squash.
Wait. I hate squash.
However, I belive in the power of acorn, and roasted acorn is perfection in being. Next year, I am going to grow a large patch of acorn. Please note that I am now dismissing the word ‘squash’ from my vocabulary. Watery and tasteless, summer squashes don’t have the punch of flavor or …anything, really, to make me want to be bothered with them. I have to add so much to them — basil, shallots — breadcrumbs, perhaps? for them to have any taste. And after all that, they’re really not so much vegetables as they are… uh, I don’t know, the main course? Veggie latkes? At any rate, I have found a friend in acorn, and I so enjoyed it this weekend that I combed through my old recipes today to dredge out a likely spice rub with which to pair it. Now, there are charmoulas, and then there are charmoulas. The ingredients are wildly variant, as seems to be the case with all rubs, but there are some base ingredients that remain the same. One is garlic. The other is cumin. I’d never made a charmoula before, but I’ve tasted them, and figured that one rub was pretty much like another, in the world of rubs. I hoped this would be a winner, since it was veggie specific. This recipe found awhile (a year?) ago in the newspaper, in their Thanksgiving food section, and it meant to highlight vegetarian tastes especially. It includes:
- Garlic cloves
- 1 tsp. Paprika
- 1 tsp. Cayenne
- 1 tsp. Kosher salt
- 1 tsp. Ground coriander
- 1 tsp. Ground cumin
- 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
- Schmear of olive oil
Please note the lack of direction for the garlic and the oil — two things I think ought to be left to the tastes of the individual.
So, I used my handy marble mortar and pestle, and ground up my ingredients (because you never want to reuse a coffee grinder that has had cumin ground in it. Ptui!) and made my acorn rub. The verdict? Not so good. I used molasses instead of brown sugar, which may have made a difference in that there was too much liquid. The flavor was fine, but it was too spicy, and not rich enough, or something, to go with the acorn. But as a barbecue sauce? Amazing, and I must admit a deep hatred and distrust of all things barbecued. D. liked it, but I’m an acorn purist, I’m afraid. Just a little olive oil, salt, and pepper for me. Or, butter and maple syrup… but mostly, I like acorn best roasted dry and served up whipped like mashed potatoes with a teensy bit of garlic and basil. Tasty!
Meanwhile, I have found a scary sort of perfection elsewhere. Just in time for the season, a fulfilling use for your every seed need: pumpkin seed brittle!!! Ohhhh, you know you want to try this at least once. If you look at the picture, you’ll be hooked like I was … or a little alarmed at the state of anyone’s teeth in attempting to bite that hunk of sugary goodness. Pumpkin seeds support the function of the immune system, assist prostate health and help lower cholesterol levels. They are also a useful source of omega 3 fatty acids and zinc. Now that you’ve had your health minute? Add sugar and enjoy!