Ah it’s autumn once again, the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, the season of walking face first into spiders webs as I make my way to my garden office, and the season when my dog thinks every yellow leaf on the pavement is a potential chip. She’ll never learn, and neither will I, but the spiders eventually learn to rebuild their webs with a perfect sized space for me to walk through. They’re definitely the more intelligent creatures.
Down on our allotment, it’s the season of clearing the beds, filling compost trenches, waiting for the leeks to fatten and the chillies to ripen, and the courgettes to call it a day. They’re the drunken ones at the end of a party, still dancing even though the DJ has already packed up and gone home, and someone is sweeping up around their feet. There are patches of grass growing under their sprawling, spiny stems, but I can’t do anything about it while they’re still pushing out fruit.
The dahlias are still holding out, despite getting knocked about in the wind, they were slow to get going in the dry weather, but have made up for lost time ever since. The tomatoes still have a few green fruit hanging forlornly from plants that are definitely past their prime. There are root crops to be harvested and brassicas growing among the nasturtiums, but most other crops have been harvested and stored. The maincrop onions and potatoes should see us through autumn and winter, and there’s a row of squashes currently curing on my fireplace. They’ll have to be moved soon once the fire is back in use, but I’m running out of space. The shed is definitely out of bounds due to resident mice, who I think nest behind the compost heap and have gnawed a perfect cartoon style mouse-hole doorway into the shed. I have to keep the potatoes in a large mouse-proof bin, and I’m just hoping they don’t take a liking to onions. Last winter they munched through a huge pile of very hot cayenne chilli peppers which I’d left in there to dry, they’re plucky little devils.
In the kitchen, autumn is the season of comfort food, which is probably one of the reasons I look forward to it. The cast iron casserole pot comes back out of hiding, and I find myself craving roast potatoes and carbs that are sugary and stodgy. The recipe below fulfills the latter requirement, but with oats and dates and apples, it doesn’t feel too unhealthy. They were made first time around with a fellow allotment holders generous supply of apples, and second time around (I decided the recipe needed tweaking) I made them with quinces from our tree which worked really well. They also freeze very well, and can be made vegan by swapping the butter for coconut oil.
Please feel free to print the recipe for following, but it’s also available in my Etsy shop as a high quality (fade resistant) print for framing, along with 4 other recipes I’ve illustrated so far this year. I want to produce one more recipe before the end of the year (something using squash, suggestions welcome) and then all six will be printed on thick card, A5 sized and packaged up in folders to be sold as a glut busting recipe card set. I’ll notify you in a new post once they’re done.
And while we’re on the subject of my shop, I’ve been as busy a squirrel stocking up his nuts for winter just lately. Other new items in my shop include new tea towels, and updated journals (pictures below). There’s also some sheets of garden themed temporary tattoos, if that’s up your street, some greeting cards featuring a new piece of digital artwork of café au lait dahlias (inspired by a fellow Instagrammers photo) and also coming soon are pin badges and stationery packs.
It’s a good job the allotment tasks are winding down.
“Just as every autumn leaves fall from the tree
Tumble to the ground and die
So in the springtime like sweet memories
They will return as will I.”
(from the song, One More Kiss Dear).