Saturday, October 22, 2011

...pass the hollandaise, please

I love the changing seasons. Just call me Princess WinterSpringSummerFall. Winter here means Tahoe and snow. Spring is delightful but, back home in Georgia or Alabama, the whole blooming season can be measured in days. Or hours. And many of those are spent in a bathtub until the tornado sirens quit blaring. Such storms do occur in November but not with the same ferocity or frequency. 
In the deep-fryer South, summer starts sometime in May and hangs around for a long time. Temperatures in the nineties (or greater) with humidity in the high triple digits leave me limp. Well, not my hair. One trip outside and its volume triples. Copious helpings of sweet tea, homemade ice cream, and chilled watermelon eaten under large shade trees helps. Truly civilized summer days are meant to be spent by - and in - a lake or the ocean (flip-flop therapy, Marsha and Samille) with beach music and a cold drink. Our San Francisco bay summers call for turtlenecks, perhaps a fleece vest as well. The mornings are too cold to drink coffee on the porch or boat deck. Mid-day is rarely above the sixties. 
Autumn is a second spring 
when every leaf is a flower.
Albert Camus
Autumn here is another story. October is more moderate with sunshine, perfect temperatures around the clock, and, yes, changing foliage. Fall has had a hold on me for as long as I can recall. The first clear, crisp day and I’m off and running. A Saturday morning when I was eight remains vivid.  The cold had snapped for the first time. I wore a white turtleneck, corduroy pants (emerald green), and brand new bobbie socks, luxuriating in their one-time-only unwashed softness. My saddle oxfords lay on the floor beside the sofa. I curled up with the latest Trixie Belden book as I waited to go shopping. Exponential happiness. Later, at the house on Knox Street, neighborhood friends came over after school to build pine straw forts and jump on piles of leaves. (“But, Mother, I thought that’s why you put them there.” Although spoken with a straight face and no sass, the explanation never worked.)
As a child, fall meant boiled peanuts, homemade cane syrup, my grandmother’s fresh sausage, spice cake, caramel cake, Lane cake, and date nut cake. Dessert runs in my family. The farm kitchen had a big work table in the middle. When the weather was too cold or wet to play outside, Granny and I would make popcorn balls and taffy. We’d giggle as we buttered our hands to shape and pull the sticky, gooey delights. Sometimes we made candles, pouring melted wax into used milk cartons. My job was to hold the wick in the middle. Poppa would peel and cut sugar cane into small pieces for me to chew. If you’ve never done this, don’t scoff.
I’m just a turtleneck kind of girl, I guess. The first crisp Saturday is as magic as ever. This morning, the coffeemaker arose and performed his French Roast magic. In the background, George Winston’s “Thanksgiving” played. This song is another autumn tradition, one that reminds me of my dear minister and friend, Joe Elmore. That’s another story...for Advent. Suffice it to say, I save “Thanksgiving” for a day such as this and play it until January 1. 
Evidently, my appetite hits its stride this time of the year, too, because food appears to be a central theme in the blog lately. This morning called for a brunch. I’ve been looking for an excuse to make hot curried fruit. Today seemed as good a time as any. I love this with breakfast casseroles or baked ham. Spoon the left-overs over a slice of pumpkin pound cake and top with creme anglaise. My sweet genes are kicking in again.

The morning's inspiration comes from a favorite week-end spot in Berkeley, The Saturn Cafe. This vegetarian restaurant appears to have been decorated by Judy Jetson.
We order the same two things every time: banana nut pancakes and Heavenly Benedict, their version of the famous egg dish: english muffin, sliced avocado and tomato, poached egg, and hollandaise sauce. I decided to cook Berkeley Benedict today. I changed the name because I made a slight change to the recipe. The southern in me whispered, “There’s really good ham in the fridge.” Always a good addition to a party. 

Summertime and the livin’ is easy... 

But the first brunch of autumn served on the back porch was a leisurely, lovely time. 

Now I think I may bake. Perhaps a pumpkin pound cake. I hate to waste the rest of the curried fruit. 

Wishing y'all a wonderful week-end.

Hot Curried Fruit
1 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 lemon, juiced (I use Meyer lemons...more juice)
1 can pineapple chunks
1 can apricot halves
1 can sliced peaches
20 maraschino cherries
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Note: You can use fresh fruit. Just as you can raise the hens before you make an omelet a la Martha Stewart. But I opted for canned fruit and drank an extra cup of coffee.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Stir melted butter, brown sugar, curry powder and lemon juice in a small bowl.
Arrange the pineapple, apricot halves and peaches in a large baking dish. Sprinkle with nuts and arrange cherries on top. Pour the butter mixture over fruit and bake in preheated oven for an hour, basting as needed.


Jeannette said...

Oh my...lovely images and then the food...and thanks for the warning, if I am trying to eat lean and mean I might read your blog with one eye closed.

Celeste said...

Jeannette, one day a week! Thank you and come back!