Harvest Update

koibutterfly by Raven J. Demers

Koi Fails to Eat Butterfly at PacSci Center

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Our harvest time reaped an abundant schedule of social commitments–far more than we’re accustomed to having–and it’s why this post is late this week. I’ve started piano lessons and can now do something I never thought I’d be able to do: play with both hands doing disparate things (sort of, I’m playing complementary fifths with my left hand to support the melody; it’s a start) and change a song into a different key.  I’ve only had two lessons so far, and I’m in awe of my teacher’s skills.

We saw friends on Tuesday and visited the Pacific Science Center, exploring dinosaurs, watching a performance on Combustion, seeing butterflies and bees going about their business in captivity. The older children asked so many questions at the planetarium, the presenter only got through three of the nine planets.  My friend and I let the kids play giant chess while we listened to the presenter talk about potential habitable or seedable areas within our solar system, including Io and Europa.

We ran errands, took broth and lentil soup to three different friends who all had abdominal surgery the week before (on the same day!).  We’ve gone on explorations through local parks, and planned to go to a harvest festival, but never made it — none of us felt well enough to drive over an hour each way, even if there were free pony rides.

What’s more, the scheduling isn’t done.  One friend is having a moving sale, another has invited us to a homeschooling workshop to help us with transitioning our daughter from homeschool to college.  There are play dates planned and promised, some as yet to be scheduled, and a continuous trend toward greater social commitments than our collective introversion knows how to handle.  We’ve spent today close to home, recovering, with a short walk to and from the library for necessary things (books and printing fanfic).

WHAT WE’RE READING

Since my son has begun using Spanish words courtesy of bilingual children’s books like Besos For Baby, I’ve checked out a number of bilingual books for us both to learn from (my Spanish is limited to two years of classes in high school and occasionally checking out my DuoLingo app) and we’ll be heading regularly to the Spanish Story Time at our library.

My daughter is currently reading The First World War as her assigned book. In order to support her desire to learn about WWII, I recommended she get some background on WWI first.  Beyond this and what she’s learned or will learn from Crash Course, it’s the only WWI assignment I’m giving at this point.  Once she’s done with that, we’ll likely move on to books that directly discuss the second world war.

She’s also reading another Harry Potter fanfic she wants me to share in, but I pointed out that she hasn’t even finished the first HP fanfic she wanted me to read (I finished all 120+ chapters), Methods of Rationality.  It’s worth a read, if you can get past the first three or four chapters of pedantic, self-righteous monologuing from the title character.  The author eventually finds his rhythm and makes some good arguments withinthe Harry Potter universe, and drops several excellent suggestions for reading material on the scientific method, philosophy, physics, et al.

I’m currently reading Outlander for the first time, and completely addicted.  I’m also starting to understand my favorite Silly Wizard songs a lot better.  Having never delved into my ancestors’ own cultural history at length (and now I’m wondering why), I’m starting to get an inkling to start.  Hellooo MacFarlands, Cowans, MacLeods, and McCorkindales!

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

Since our Crash Course U.S. History just took us through the cause and events of the Civil War, we watched Gone with the Wind, and I was proud to see my daughter horrified by the romanticization of slavery, and the characterization of both Northerners/Yankees and African Americans.  Prouder still was when she was able to connect what we watched and learned to current events, like Mike Huckabee’s horrendous comment about the Dred Scott decision and the rampant racism perpetuated since the beginning of the African Trans-Atlantic slave trade.

WHAT WE’RE EATING

Despite the push to eat all things pumpkin or “pumpkin spice,” we’ve yet to eat any pumpkin.  We have been eating lots of roasted delicata squash, delicious sweet corn grown from local farms, peppers both sweet and hot in over four dozen varieties, and juicy, delectable harvest fruits like seckel pears, 20th Century Asian pears, jazz apples, wild blackberries, and even a few quince fruits off our surprisingly abundant tree.

To kick off our harvest hurrah during last week’s Autumnal Equinox (a.k.a. Mabon or Halig), I made a special soup of foods we’d bought at the farmers’ market, a delicious soup with a light but enticing flavor.

Harvest Soup by Raven J. Demers

Harvest Soup by Raven J. Demers

Harvest Soup
with Turkey Sausage Meatballs (optional)

3 ears of fresh, local corn
2 delicata squash (small to medium)
4 medium, red sauce tomatoes
1 leek (chopped fine)
4 cloves garlic

3-4 c. chicken bone broth or mushroom broth
salt & black pepper to taste
thyme

Preheat oven to 375°F. Roll ground turkey sausage (we buy mild Italian turkey sausage from our PCC butcher’s freezer section) into small balls, placing them on parchment paper spread out over a cookie sheet. Halve the squash, scooping out stringy bits and seeds, then quarter and slice each section into thin C-shaped pieces. On a second cookie sheet, lay out squash in a single layer and brush olive oil over the tops.  Place both squash and meatballs into the oven for 20 – 30 minutes (until meatballs are cooked through and squash is a golden brown).

Slice corn kernels from ears, setting aside 1/3 of the kernels for later.  Slice tomatoes into quarters.  Chop about a 1/4 of leeks into small pieces.

In a soup pot, sauté leeks and pressed garlic in olive oil, then add in two-thirds of the corn kernels and all of the tomatoes. Cover with water, and set to a low boil.  Once boiling, reduce to simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove meatballs and squash from oven.  Reserve one slice of squash each per person being served, and add the remaining squash to the pot. Add in salt, pepper, and thyme, then blend with a hand blender or transfer to a traditional blender.  Once blended coarsely, toss in the final third of corn kernels, cooking them for five minutes.  Also add meatballs at this time to heat them and keep them moist.

Serve in bowls with a sprinkle of pepitas and a slice of squash in the center.

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