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It is October 2nd and a beautiful crisp morning in autumn as I write this. The garden is still flowering well with dahlias, asters and geraniums and the fields and hedges are still green and lush, but Autumn is well and truly upon us now with darker evenings and a drop in temperature.
I love to eat the seasons and I look forward to Autumn when I can forage the hedgerows and pick some of the lovely autumnal fruit growing in my garden here in Northern Ireland.
If you’re interested in finding out more about eating and cooking with the seasons, I have a number of cooking and baking classes that celebrate all that’s good throughout the year.
With the change of the season comes a change of produce and a desire to eat a bit differently. It’s also still a great time for foraging and the hedges seem particularly abundant this year.
There is an abundance of delicious local autumn produce. Bramley apples, of course, are prominent when you are from County Armagh, but pears too although you don’t see them growing here so often. Crab apples make a beautiful red or pink jelly that is great with cheese. Quince likewise if you can hold of them.
The damsons came and went (I made damson jam and a really great damson ice cream) but the hedges are still vibrant with the last of the blackberries, beautifully scented honeysuckle, jewel red rosehips which are very high in vitamin C ( higher than almost any other foodstuff ) which can be used to make your own cough syrup as my mother always did. These also make beautiful jelly on their own or with the apples.
I used the Elderberries foraged from the hedges (high in antioxidants and antiviral) this year to make my own linctus to ward off colds and flu. They can also be used to make syrup or jelly.
Walnuts, medlars and chestnuts are all in season now too.
On the vegetable front cauliflowers are great at this time of year, I often just roast them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and a sprinkle of turmeric (another antioxidant) or use them in a vegetable curry.
Cavolo Nero should be appearing soon. This is a robust cabbage (and my absolute favourite)with long very dark green leaves and is wonderful in soups or simply plunged into boiling water and cooked on high without a lid until tender, then squeeze out the water and serve with really good olive oil and salt and pepper. Super nutritious and delicious.
Pumpkins and squashes (high in magnesium and Vitamin A) will be arriving shortly. These are great in a vegetable curry, soup or simply roasted, not to mention pumpkin pie which is perfect for a Halloween treat.
Lots of autumnal recipes spring to mind and I look forward to making apple tarts and crumble, stewed apples with custard. Roast, stuffed pork fillet with apple sauce and a County Armagh classic, Potato Apple Bread.
Pear and almond tart, a wonderful recipe from the renowned River Café in London and a favourite when I worked there.
At Wee Buns Cookery School we run a number of seasonal cooking and baking classes from Autumnal Baking classes to Easter Baking and Christmas Cooking Classes. Find out more here