A head in the clouds and a pair of boots - pea stew with fresh tomatoes
Strangely enough, this September has somewhat reminded me of my childhood Septembers, weather wise. Temps have been mild, except for the occasional heatwave, Summer's last huzzahs making one still long for a final stroll down the beach wearing bathing suits and a lovely tan. Mornings are a bit on the chilly side, with wind shaking off leaves from the trees in front of my windows, and a coat is a must when I take the kid to school. Fluffy white clouds chase each other across the still blue skies, with a few darker ones in their midst reminding us all that rain will eventually make an appearance. Sitting at my desk working, wearing a short sleeve tee shirt is sounding like a bad idea more and more each day, as I find myself feeling cold.
My Summer clothes are all still gracing my wardrobe, although I have a few transitional garments in the backup, like me edwardian blouses and sturdier jackets, along with warmer sneakers and oxford shoes. We had rain, already, during the night, and I could hear it ptter patting against the windows, but come morning it was over. No need for boots, yet, so they stay hidden in my store room. Except for my witchy boots, that is. My shiny new witchy boots that are currently on display beneath my bedside table, in all their gothlike glory. Those boots are the stuff (my) dreams are made of, and if I am to tell you it has taken me a lifetime to finally find the perfect pair, design wise, you might not even believe it. But I tell you it's true.
Silly as it may be, I have dreamed up these boots for many, many years (you can see them at my instagram account, @kitchenwitchmiranda) and never quite managed to find precisely what populated my imagination. They graced the feet of characters I created, in my mind, they graced the feet of fashion illustration I drew, they were part of my imaginary, essential to the style persona I wanted myself to be. These boots were clearly made for walking the avenues of my mind, hand in hand with the stories that seem to always be there. Part of those stories, perhaps, as I kind of fitted them to the feet of a certain character, even before I had laid eyes on the real thing, let alone make them mine. The moment I saw them, they had to be mine. So that's why they're on display and not hidden away waiting for Autumn to come.
But the truth is Autumn seems to be much closer than the previous year. I can smell it in the air and sense it in my bones, I can see it in the quality of light and the hours I now choose to photograph in order to still have light. I can taste it in the apples and pears I've been buying, and the juicy sweet grapes that grace my table. I can almost touch it in the cravings I have for dishes that are warmer, and comforting, and heartwaming. Stews have been begging to be cooked, and heartier soups, and lasagnas and mashed potatoes. But Summer's staples also seem to want to stick around, in the form of quiches and tarts, all brimming with the rippest, sweetest of tomatoes. My food has been filled with fresh tomatoes and I am loving it. It's like I'm fully appreciating and taking full advantage of the seasons, in their proper time. It's not yet Fall, but it's no longer Summer anymore. I'm enjoying the transitional like never before.
This week my son went back to school, and it's been great to get back to my work routines, to being able to properly focus on my novel and write away in silence and concentration. It's been great to get back to my regular exercising routine as well, and to my usual eating habits. It's also been great coming back from the school runs head in the clouds thinking up dialogues, chapters, plots that I pen down as soon as I'm home. It's been great to be able to focus on developing my ongoing characters inside my head so they sound real, at least to me. It's an exercise I make and that I love above all else, the development of a character in my mind. I even go to the extremo of having certain characters have dialogues in my head, conversations that do not get into the novel but that help me to better "understand" and know my own characters. Like they get to have a life of their own, you know? Do not send me to the madhouse just yet, I'm betting there's a lot of writers who actually do this.
So while I'm embracing this newfound love for transition, I'm also taking advantage of the last tomatoes, and although it is not pea season, a pea stew - even if you use frozen peas - is the perfect transitional dish to enjoy in this mild weather. And call it a coincidence, but whenever I'm craving transitional food, I tend to go for pearl barley! Once again, I had to add some peraly barley to a stew, I don't even know what it is about it, but I am crazy for peral barley. My husband is not a huge fan, but the kid's with me on this one, we just can't get enough. Finished my stock, though, so I'm ready to go on the search for a new pack. But with so many things happening this month, I'm guessing it will take a while before I can venture on a seeking adventure for a pack of pearl barley - I do know where to buy it, but we won't be going anywhere near that store in the next few weeks.
Anyway, here's the recipe for you to try your hand at, you will not be sorry:
- 300 gr peas
- six large, ripe tomatoes
- 2 onions
- 3 medium sized carrots
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup pear barley
- 1 egg per person
- 1 good glug of olive oil
- rosemary, thyme and oregano, dried - just a sprinkle
- salt and pepper to taste