Monday, November 25, 2013

in anticipation

It has been a long time since we've stayed on the homefarm for the month of November.  Usually, we take this time to travel for rest and to find new inspiration.  But because of a long list of autumn farm and winery chores and the imminent deadline for a new book, we have stayed put and had to look to home for little revelations.

Vermont in November shows an austere and elegant landscape.  The lacey branches of the trees, the stark contours of hillsides, the smoky tendrils of woodfires.  The colors of land and sky are naturally muted: blue-grays, browns, soft blacks, translucent mauves.  The gardens still produce.  Curly lettuces and dark purpled radicchio, tempered orange carrots and ivory parsnips, creamy potatoes and white-fleshed apples, forest-green striped squash and flat baskets of stil- ripening tomatoes from our late harvest.  In our tiny kitchen, there is much to inspire.  The soup made of pumpkin and leeks, baked tomotoes stuffed with goat cheese and herbs, little tartlets of caramelized endive, sausages roasted with apples.

Thanksgiving week finds us giving thanks for time spent quitely on the farm.  We'll spend the holiday here too, looking forward to a long table set in finery and a long menu to while away the morning with cooking and the afternoon with eating and drinking.  We've settled on four courses.  Caleb will cook the main and the dessert; I will look after the antipasto and primo.  A rosso di Valtellina suggestive of spiced cranberries and roast turkey momentarily seduces, but we return to our original plan of Vermont quail.  We've saved apples out from the cider harvest for dessert.  November has brought me nostalgia and I will make ravioli just like I learned late at night in another little kitchen in Italy.  We have a pot of duck liver pate at the ready to kick things off with something decidely sparkling.  The other details have yet to fall in place.  Final flourishes and wines to accompany.  We have a few early mornings in front of the fire still left to pour over cookbooks and old restaurant menus with coffee in hand.  

The November landscape not only inspires in the kitchen, but also the table.  In thinking about our Thursday meal, we collect a handful of objects from woods and meadow, from pantry and china cabinet, and challenge ourselves to dress the table in November.  And this last Thursday in November will come, still bountiful with harvest and our happy gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving!


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