the last of the summer sun

This is always the saddest time of the year, when the days grow shorter and sunshine becomes a rare commodity. I know it might sound a bit late to be lamenting this in October, but when I left the house today it was so gloriously sunny that I was confused momentarily into thinking it was still summer. Until I saw the colour of the leaves on the trees and remembered. Days like this make me want to rush outside and salvage every last scrap of sunshine that I can. But instead I am sitting on a train, gazing longingly out of the window, and posting nostalgic pictures of summertime on my blog. I took this one on some friends’ allotment back in July, where the sunset made everything look radiant – even the weeds.

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There are good things about this time of year, though. For instance, our efforts at vegetable growing are really beginning to pay off now. We’re in the middle of a bumper courgette crop, and the tomatoes have done pretty well, too. There are a few very promising looking rows of beetroots outside our kitchen window and, now that the caterpillars appear to have left our cabbages alone, we might actually succeed with those eventually. We’ve also got several curvy yellow proto-squish, but I don’t hold out great hopes for them achieving completeness before it starts to get frosty.

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There are other good things, too. For my birthday a few weeks ago I was given not one but five tantalisingly good recipe books. My intention is now to cook my way through autumn and winter, so that we don’t notice how cold and dark it’s getting outside and are entirely contented to stay indoors. I’m planning fruity tagines, stews with dumplings, warming soups and all kinds of freshly baked goodies. Cinnamon buns and that sort of thing. Since visiting the Nordic Bakery in Soho a week ago, I’m all inspired for Scandinavian baking.

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I made this berry oatcake from the Nordic Bakery cookbook this summer – it was like making porridge in cake form, as you start by mixing warm milk with porridge oats, and add honey and fruit. Unfortunately it collapsed around the edges when I tipped it out of the tin, but it tasted warm and scrummy all the same.

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So I guess on reflection I’m happy enough to resign myself to autumn, and possibly even winter at this rate. I just need to keep up my culinary endeavours and enjoy the opportunity to stay indoors, serenaded by soul-warming music and surrounded by sparkly fairy lights against the dark outdoors. All of a sudden it doesn’t seem such a bad prospect after all…