Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Comforting Death of Fall

We begin the season of Lent with Ash Wednesday, a reminder of our mortality, that we are "but dust and to dust we shall return." Death in the Lenten season is a call to repentance, urging us to find our posture of humility by bringing us to our knees to raise cries of "Mea Culpa". This is the death that begs reformation and repentance so we recognize again our need for redemption. It's healthy; its needed; and it's tiring.
The death of fall is different. The leaves fall and the smell of them burning wafts through the windows in the evening. The summer flowers dry up and fall over among the leaves of the summer vines now turned brown. Dried corn hangs from the door and dried gourds are turned to painted jack-o-lanterns.
The death of fall is not about preparing for some unknown final passing. It is, instead, the rhythmic death of life, a sloughing off of what has passed in due time, the dried chaff falling away from the wheat to prepare it for its next life. Some deaths are welcome, the purging of habits outgrown or outmoded. Fall brings with it spring cleaning for the soul, not for casting out the demons hiding in the recesses, but of the things we once held dear but no longer need; not sinful, just irrelevant.
The sweetness of rot, dryness of the earth, smoke from inaugural season uses of chimneys and fire pits are carried through the open windows on crisp breezes. These are the odors of the season and olfactory reminders that death is an essential part of the next season of life. Driving home this evening we passed rows of freshly rolled hay and fields of spent corn stalks, remnants of what had to be released for the new growth to happen.
Fall marks the death of summer and transitions us into the winter time for rest and restoration.
Appropriately, All Saints and Thanksgiving are marked in this season of wholesome and healthful death. Both are holidays, one religious and one civic, when we celebrate generations that have passed with gratitude. All Saints breathes life into the ghosts of our lives, the souls we carry in our own who laid the tracks we now follow. Thanksgiving commands us to give thanks in ways we fail to do so otherwise with an emphasis on our forebears who first eked out a living with the help of generous residents in this wild land.
In a real way these holidays help us release the sadness of the season of mourning, not sinful or shameful but simply no longer needed, to move into a restful season of remembering and restoring of the presence of dead loved ones in new ways in our lives. When we are ready we let go of the heaviness that has dried up as a husk around our hearts so that the love we always had can take new shape and new life.
The many deaths of fall are welcome and renewing, a release and a rest.

Fall Quesadillas
4 taco-sized flour tortillas
3/4 Granny Smith apple, diced (or other firm, tart apple)
1/2 medium onion, diced
8 slices thin-sliced sharp cheddar cheese
olive oil

Curry Dipping Sauce
1/4 cup plain creek yogurt
1 1/2 tsp ginger dressing
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2-1 tsp agave nectar

This is my spin on quesadillas the incorporates some of my favorite fall flavors. It may sound like an odd combination, but the the sweet, warm, tangy, and umami flavors blend for a lovely taste of the season.

Warm a skillet on medium heat on the stove. Pour a teaspoon or so of olive oil in the skillet and add the diced apple and onion. Saute the apple and onion until softened. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
Put the skillet back on the stove and lower the heat to low to medium-low. Add 1 tsp or so of butter in the skillet and melt. Place one flour tortilla in the skillet. Tear 2 slices of the cheese and layer on the tortilla. Layer half of the apple and onion mixture on top of the cheese. Tear 2 more slices of the cheese and lay on top of the apple and onion. Top with one more flour tortilla. Once the bottom tortilla is crisp, remove quesadilla from the pan, add a little more butter, melt the butter then return the quesadilla back to the skillet with the cooked side up to brown the other side. Once the down side is crispy and the cheese is melted, remove the quesadilla from the pan and set aside.
Repeat with the rest of the quesadilla ingredients to make a second quesadilla.
For the dipping sauce, mix all the ingredients and set aside. Add the amount of agave to the sauce to bring it to the level of sweetness you like.
Cut the quesadillas into quarters and enjoy with the sauce.

1 comment:

  1. I must try these quesadillas! Mike and I watch "Chopped" together which is building my confidence as a cook - at least from the couch. Your blog is giving me some great recipe ideas. Thanks for the ideas!


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