Cooking with the Seasons - Fantastic Fall Cookingby Jane Georgini
Fantastic FallI love itthe leaves are changing into those vibrant reds and oranges. It's harvest time and the fruits and vegetables take on their best colors as well, bright green kale and broccoli, sweet orange squashes, strengthening brown burdock, ruby red apples and so much more. It is a real pleasure to get into the kitchen and create a delicious meal when there is so much to choose from. But there is more to good cooking than creating dishes with a beautiful harvest. We need to know how to help our bodies cope with the cool, crisp Autumn and coming Winter weather by cooking stronger, warmer dishes.
With the Fall change, our bodies naturally want to discharge excess foods eaten in the summer months. The kidney and bladder are sometimes overworked due to excess liquid, fruit, and raw foods. Daikon radish, lotus root, and ginger can help to make this transition a little easier. More rich tastes and styles of cooking are appropriate such as bean stews, fried or deep-fried foods, grain stews and soups, sweet rice and mochi, warm amasake, cooked fruit, sweet squash soups and pies. Dishes can be prepared with longer cooking times than in the hot summer monthslong, slow nishime style, or kinpira, or long-time sautéing. Vegetables can be cut into larger slices and chunks to be cooked longer and create strengthening dishes. Sea vegetables can be cooked heartier by adding tempeh, root vegetables or dried tofu. The following are a few recipes to spark your creative juices to create healthy, delicious Fall/Winter meals.
Ginger Squash Soup
- 1-1 1/2 lb. butternut squash
- 3 cups water
- 1 medium onion
- Ginger juice to taste
- 2 teaspoons corn oil (optional)
- 3 tablespoons chickpea or white or mellow miso
- parsley or watercress as a garnish
Cut squash in small chunks. Place in a pot, add water, and bring to a boil. Turn heat down, cover, and simmer until soft. When cooked, put squash through a food mill to discard skins.
Sauté onion in corn oil or water. Blend squash, onion, miso, and additional water if needed in a food processor until smooth. Put back in the pot to simmer the miso for 2-3 minutes. Add ginger juice (grate ginger root, place gratings in palm of hand, and squeeze juice out). Garnish with parsley or watercress.
Savory Autumn Tofu and Vegetable Stew
- 1 carrot, cut in 1-inch diagonals
- 1 onion, cut in quarters
- 1 broccoli stalk, cut into flowers and stems into 1-inch pieces
- 1 cup winter squash, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 3-4 inch piece of kombu sea vegetable, soaked and cut into strips or squares
- 1 lb. tofu, firm-style
- Shoyu soy sauce, to taste
- 1-2 tablespoons kuzu, diluted in a small amount of cool water
- 4-5 cups water
- Parsley sprigs for garnish
In a large pot place water, squash, onion, and carrots. Bring to boil, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add shoyu soy sauce to create a light taste, broccoli, and tofu. Cover again and simmer for another 5 minutes. Add diluted kuzu to the pot, stirring constantly to avoid lumping. As you add the kuzu, the liquid will turn cloudy and then clear as the kuzu thickens. Simmer for 1-2 minutes without the lid. Add parsley sprigs and adjust shoyu if needed. Serve over grains or noodles.
Arame with Deep-Fried Tofu
- 1/2 lb. tofu, firm-style
- Sesame oil
- 1 cup arame sea vegetable
- Shoyu, to taste (1/2 teaspoon)
- 2 bunches watercress, cut into 1 inch lengths
Wrap tofu in a cotton cloth and place on a cutting board, weigh tofu down with a plate and weight on top to press out excess liquid for 20 minutes. Then slice tofu into 1/2 inch x 1 inch rectangles. Lightly coat with arrowroot. Heat about 2 inches of sesame oil in a pot and deep fry tofu until golden brown. Place on a paper towel to drain. Wash and soak arame. Place soaking water and arame in a pot, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Add shoyu and fried tofu and simmer for another 10 minutes or until the liquid is cooked away. Add the watercress and mix well. Makes 2-3 servings.
Jane Georgini is a macrobiotic cooking teacher in Kensington.