September has dawned, sunny and beautiful. And with it comes that sense of a new start, the ‘back-to-school’ feeling of a return to normal patterns of behaviour, after holidays, the silly season and, to my mind anyway, the horrors of summer clothing. God how I love a pair of boots after the ignominy of flip-flops.
It also heralds a change in eating patterns; we’ve not had much in the way of sunshine in the UK this year but, even so, my own diet has relied heavily on sun-inspired foods and ingredients: lemon, basil, chilli as flavourings, halloumi, feta and goat’s cheese as proteins and lots of courgettes, green salad and tomatoes to go with them. Starch hasn’t played much of a role, mostly bread, new potatoes and couscous or bulghur.
Now, as the light starts to dim, even with an inevitable few weeks of transition, I’ll start to replace those three groups: I’ll be flavouring more stuff with aromatic rather than leafy herbs; richer and harder cow’s milk cheeses, better suited to melting over bakes than frying for salads, will sneak up on the soft sheeps’ and goats’ cheeses and, oh the joy, tis the season of squashes (butternut, acorn, pumpkin) as well as sweetcorn. I’m not sure anything beats corn on the cob, lightly steamed, with lashings of butter and, er, HP sauce.
It’s a good time to clear out the rubbish from the fridge and the cupboards, to make room for the ten or twelve essential things needed for the next few months. Mine will probably be fresh thyme and rosemary (which, even though they will dry out naturally, are still better than buying them ready-dried and crumbled to dust), chicken stock cubes or bouillon for soups and stews, a good chunk of Cheddar (I like Davidstow and Montgomery) and some blue Stilton, some red and white onions, leeks, butternut squash and Bramley cooking apples. And I’ll stock up on old potatoes, rice and the ever-present gnocchi to stave off the cold. Already I can see a blue cheese soup, a squash and apple risotto and some baked potatoes with caramelised leeks and bacon. I may not be looking forward to the change in the weather (does anyone relish the prospect of short days and long nights?) but the food? Can’t wait…