Celebration Of Autumn Menu

Cooking Table 1080

Groups large or small will enjoy this colorful autumn menu excerpted from Cooking for the Love of the World.

As a teacher and mentor, I always strive to awaken wonder, reverence and enthusiasm toward the living world in young and old. The way to achieve planetary health and harmony is to bring alive, in every human heart, the glory and splendor of the world. To create a living relationship with the world is a most essential part of our lives and diets today. As I marvel at the beauty and mysteries unfolding everywhere around me, I have come to know with certainty that real, natural foods reveal the magnificence of the creative spirit. I also know for sure that what I cook and the way I prepare the meal is a continuation of these divine creative processes and have a profound impact in my life, the life of humanity and Earth. For this understanding I am very grateful.

Wonder and reverence were awakened early on in my life. I had the privilege to create an intimate relationship with nature from the time I was very young. I grew up north of Copenhagen in Denmark next to enchanting woods, wide-stretching fields and a few miles from lapping ocean waves. My family lived in a community setting with a multitude of other families and children in all ages. As a baby and toddler, I napped in a carriage outside year-round. My kindergarten was an outside forest kindergarten with no physical address. The teacher strolled from door to door and picked up all the children along the way. We walked into the ever-changing woods and played among the fairies, trees and bushes. Our play toys were rocks, sticks, moss, puddles, acorns and whatever else we found. With these natural toys there was no end for our creative imaginations. In nature we were free to be, move and develop at our own pace. 

As a youth in Denmark, television was not much of an option. Instead my sisters and I played with friends outside rain or shine. It seemed like all weather was good weather when dressed well. We walked or biked a mile to school every day. After school the outside world and the seasonal changes in their entire splendor continued to frame all our games and activities.  

After finishing high school, I moved to Copenhagen to attend college. During that time, I began to explore my individuality, freedom and creativity as a young woman. Many questions came to birth in my heart. I had a feeling of longing — longing to know and to understand. Who was I? What was the source of my existence? I felt the stirring of a purpose or direction in my life, what was it? While working as a system analyst at IBM and later teaching computer science, my soul felt ignored and starved for real life. I felt a genuine unhappiness and a deep sadness hovered around me. Although both jobs were interesting, challenging and well paying, it wasn’t what I was longing for. I was in an emotional upheaval and despair. This inner turmoil, the yearning to find answers to the questions I was carrying and the desire to really feel and experience life, led me on a new journey that embraced nature in a different way. Through the art of cooking I began consciously to reconnect and deepen my relationship with the world and nature spiritually, creatively and physically. 

Working in the kitchen gives us an opportunity to deepen our relationship with the world through the food we cook. We can look at the ingredients as if we are seeing them for the first time and attend to them, as we would with close friends. When we create genuine interest for what we are working with we engage our senses. It is through sensing that the wisdom of the world reveals its nature to us.

We are accustomed to think we have five senses; seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching. In reality there are seven more: the sense of balance, movement, speech and thought as well as the sense of self, life and warmth. Notice that when we work in the kitchen we constantly apply and exercise our inner sense of balance. We orient ourselves in the world and relate this sense of balance to cutting styles, cooking styles, colors, etc. As we move our hands over the surfaces of vegetables, we feel a sense of movement and how our own inner movement relates and resonates harmoniously with the movements and processes that created the foods we are preparing. All kinds of curves, textures and contours are expressed to us. We perceive the unique yet universal language articulated by the foods and dishes we cook. Our sense of thought also engages during cooking. By immersing ourselves in the creative processes our thinking becomes like the life forces we work with; mobile and living. We clearly have a sense of life. Not only do we sense our own well-being, whether we are tired or comfortable, we also sense the life of the food we cook. We have an inner sense of warmth when we eat spicy foods or a hot soup and feel warmth by sharing our meal with friends and family. Lastly, we have a sense of self, of our spirit-nature and the spirit-nature of others. We nurture this sense through the fact that we are able to imbue and change the quality of foods with our own activity. When we bring consciousness into sensing, cooking becomes an enriching, living, soul/spirit experience of the living world. 

Attentive and open within sensing, begin to look with wonder at the foods needed for the meal. Observe the structures, the rhythms, and follow the patterns into the slightest details. Keep your eyes on the ingredients as if you were touching them with your gaze. Run your eyes up and down, around and inside. What are the movements and gestures of these foods and what secrets do they tell? Without intellectual speculation, look through a magnifying glass and admire the work of nature. What beauty to behold! Cut an apple horizontally, right through the middle where it is broadest and discover a beautiful five-pointed star. Nature is full of these awe-inspiring surprises.

Celebration of Autumn Menu

Invite friends for this meal. There is plenty for 8-12 people to taste a little of everything. The kvass for the autumn refresher is made weeks in advance. The pickled onions are best if allowed several days to mature but can be done in 1/2 hour. Soak the rice and walnuts separately 6-8 hrs. Make the stuffing for the squash. Bake the squash, turkey and zucchini muffins. Proceed by preparing the tempeh and the rest of the vegetable dishes, dressings and sauces.

Kvass Autumn Refresher
Stuffed Herbed Buttercup Squash
Roasted Maple Turkey
Zucchini Corn Muffins with Olive Basil Dip
Fried Crispy Tempeh
Green Beans in Olive Oil and Garlic
Collard Greens with Orange Dressing
Holiday Root Medley with Rosemary
Spicy Cranberry Chutney
Tamari Pickled Onions

Kvass Autumn Refresher

Begin the celebration with an autumn refresher that has zest and body. It is made with kvass, a traditional Scandinavian and Russian fermented drink. The kvass needs 5-10 days to ferment, so plan ahead. Kvass is delicious as it is — sweet and slightly sour. Triple the recipe and use a gallon jar instead. The kvass stores in the refrigerator for weeks. Experiment with adding different herbs to the kvass during the fermentation process, such as thyme, rosemary and small amounts of ginger.

1 quart water
1/4 of an apple, sliced
1 thick slice sourdough bread, cubed and dried completely
1 tablespoon sauerkraut
5 raisins

Place the bread and water in a pot. Bring it to a boil. Let it cool before adding it to a 1 1/2-quart size jar. Add apple, raisins, sauerkraut and more water, if necessary, to fill the jar. Seal the jar with a tight-fitting lid.

Cover the jar with a towel and let it sit at room temperature for 5-10 days. If the weather is warmer, the kvass will be ready quicker. The finished kvass is a little fizzy and has a sweet and slightly sour taste. 

Pour the kvass through a strainer. Discard the bread mixture and store the kvass in the refrigerator. Serve in decorative wine glasses.

 

Stuffed Herbed Buttercup Squash

Buttercup squash and other round hard winter squasesh are best to use for this dish. If you use store-bought seasoned bread stuffing, follow the directions on the package and omit everything for the dressing except the oil, celery and onions.

1 cup walnuts
1 large buttercup squash
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or butter
3 large onions, cubed
3 celery stalks, cubed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon dried and crushed basil
1 tablespoon dried and crushed thyme
1 tablespoon dried and crushed oregano
10 slices whole wheat sourdough bread cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup water or soup stock

Soak the walnuts in water for 6-8 hours. Drain and chop the nuts fine. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Wash the squash. Cut a lid off the top of the squash and scoop out the seeds. Save the lid.

Heat a large pot and add oil or butter. Sauté onions and celery over medium heat for three minutes, then add salt and herbs, and sauté for three minutes. Mix bread and chopped nuts into vegetable mixture. Add water or stock while gently blending it all together. Place stuffing loosely in the squash. Put the lid back on. Add the rest of the stuffing to a baking dish and cover. 

Bake the squash and stuffing. The stuffing in the baking dish will be done after 30-40 minutes and the squash in 1-1 1/2 hours. Time it so both are done at the same time. Baking time depends on the size of the dish and the squash. Stick a long needle into the middle of the stuffing, pull out quickly and feel if the middle is hot.  

Take both out of the oven and let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

 

Roasted Maple Turkey

If the turkey is frozen, thaw it slowly in the refrigerator for several days. The roasted turkey is deliciously crisp, juicy and simple to make. It is cooked in an oven bag to secure the flavors and moisture. Serve any liquid remaining in the bag diluted with water, seasoned with salt, and thickened with just a little cornstarch for a sauce.

1 medium size turkey
1 teaspoon sea salt
Juice of 1 lemon
8 tablespoons maple syrup
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2-3 apples, cored and cut in chunks
1 cup prunes soaked in water
1 tablespoon flour

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Rinse and dry the turkey well. Rub sea salt into the turkey, then lemon juice and maple syrup, and finish with the oil. Fill the turkey with apples and prunes.

Place the bird in an oven bag for baking, shake one tablespoon flour inside the bag, seal and cut a few holes in the top. Bake the turkey for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. Use a meat thermometer to determine if the meat is cooked all the way through. Cut the bag open and bake for another 15 minutes. Let the turkey rest for 15 minutes before carving it. Place the pieces decoratively on a plate.

 

Zucchini Corn Muffins with Olive Basil Dip

The olive basil dip is delicious as a dipping sauce for any bread. To make the corn flour more digestible, mix the dry ingredients, except the baking soda, with the wet ingredients and let rest for 6 hours. Mix the baking powder with a little flour before adding it to the dough right before baking the muffins.

1 1/2 cup blue or yellow corn flour
1 1/2 cups of whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter or extra virgin olive oil
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider or juice
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 cups grated zucchini
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup finely minced basil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

Oil a 12-cup muffin pan. In a large bowl mix corn flour, pastry flour, sea salt and baking soda. In another bowl whisk together egg, butter or oil, water, apple cider and cider vinegar. Pour liquid ingredients into flour mixture and mix well. Quickly stir in the zucchini. Pour batter into muffin pan and bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes.

Mix olive oil, salt and minced basil. Serve in a flat dish as dipping sauce for the muffins.

 

Fried Crispy Tempeh

Tempeh is a fermented soybean product. I make it fresh at home. Tempeh is very nourishing and tasty and readily available in health food stores. Fry the tempeh in two batches if necessary. The fried tempeh is seasoned with umeboshi vinegar, the brine of the fermented Japanese umeboshi plums. The umeboshi vinegar adds a tasty sour salty flavor to the crispy tempeh. Use instead of umeboshi vinegar, use 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon salt or 4 tablespoons tamari soy sauce.

1 1/2 pound tempeh, cubed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive or avocado oil
4-6 tablespoons umeboshi vinegar

Heat a skillet, add the oil or butter and fry the tempeh over medium heat until golden about 4-5 minutes. Make sure the heat is not too low or too high. Turn and fry the other side for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and sprinkle with umeboshi vinegar while still hot. Serve warm or room temperature.

 

Green Beans with Butter Garlic 

Seasoned with butter and garlic, the green beans complement the meal well. Use extra virgin olive oil instead of butter.

2 cups green string beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon garlic granulate or 1 clove fresh garlic, minced

Place the beans in a skillet with the water and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Uncover the skillet and let the green beans cook until all liquid has evaporated.

Season the beans with salt, butter and garlic. Simmer for 1 minute. The beans are done when they have a bright dark green color, and are tender, but not overcooked. 

 

Collard Greens with Orange Dressing

Collard greens taste delicious when steam boiled. It brings a sweetness and roundness to the tougher autumn greens. If the collard greens are very bitter, boil them whole in 1 quart of water and then cut into diagonals.

1/2-1 pound collard greens, finely cut on diagonal

Place the greens in a pot with ½-inch water. Bring the water to a boil. Turn down the heat and steam boil the greens for 5-30 minutes. Use a shorter time if the collard greens are to be tender but still crisp, and longer cooking time for a nourishing, buttery soft and warming dish. Serve with the orange dressing.

Orange Dressing

1 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt

In a bowl whisk all ingredients together. Let the dressing sit for 1/2 hour. Before serving whisk it again.

 

Holiday Root Medley with Rosemary

Cook this holiday root medley over medium heat. If the heat is too low the vegetables will be mushy. Season the dish at the end of the cooking time.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup carrots
1 cup turnips or celeriac
1 cup parsnips
2 pinches sea salt
2 tablespoons rosemary
1-2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon sea salt 

Clean the vegetables and cut into very chunky matchsticks.

Heat a frying pan. Add oil and vegetables. Sauté over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add a few pinches of salt and rosemary, cover pan and continue to cook until vegetables are done. Turn vegetables occasionally. If the vegetables get too dry add a couple of tablespoons of water. 

Season the root vegetables with salt, cover the pan and continue to cook for 1 minute.

 

Spiced Cranberry Chutney

This dish offers a bittersweet flavor, a bright red color and zesty warming spices to the meal. 

2 cups cranberries
1 cup apple juice
1/2 cup diced apples
5 dried apricots, cut in quarters
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger juice

Clean and rinse cranberries. Place them in a saucepan. Add apple juice, apples, apricots and salt. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes. Season the cranberries with cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Let simmer for 5 minutes. Add the ginger juice, mix well and serve hot.

 

Tamari Pickled Onions

Many firm vegetables can be pickled using this method. If they are cut thin, a light pickle can be done in hours. The longer the vegetables pickle, the stronger they get. Use the brine afterwards as seasoning in soups.

2 cups loosely packed red onions cut in crescent moons
3/4 cup unpasteurized tamari soy sauce
3/4 cup water
3 tablespoons vinegar

Place the onions in a pint jar. Mix tamari soy sauce, water and vinegar and pour over the onions. Let the onion pickle for 1/2 hour or up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator. One tablespoon of pickled onions is one serving.

 

Notes

1. Our Twelve Senses by Albert Soesman. Hawthorn Press, 1999. 

Excerpted with permission of the author from Cooking for the Love of the World: Awakening Our Spirituality Through Cooking by Anne-Marie Fryer Wiboltt. Goldenstone Press and Heaven and Earth Publishing, 2008. Visit www.cookingfortheloveoftheworld.com.