October, the beginning of Autumn, the month of my birthday. A month that begins well. Look at that list of Feasts! Guardian Angels is by favourite and my best. Unless of course, Francis is my favourite and my best. Bruno could be too. Who could leave out Newman? And, well, without Our Lady of the Rosary none of us would ever manage.
In years gone past I have written about each of these days separately. There is much to learn from each. But, taken collectively they speak a message too: You are looked after, cared for and protected (Guardian angels), look after others in return (Francis), take time for God and for yourself (Bruno), be prepared to think things through and change your mind when necessary (Newman), and, everyone needs help (Our Lady of the Rosary).
In response to all of these good lessons I can offer the following: you deserve to be looked after, cared for and protected - make sure you are; show that you care for those around you - your loved ones deserve to be looked after too; take time for yourself and for God - know yourself; think carefully about the choices you make - you only live once; ask for help when you need it - living in community has a purpose.
Part of all this living the faith lark leads me to do something I can be tempted to not bother with - to cook well for one. It is tempting to 'not be bothered', to heat something quick or eat junk food. It is just not on, and to some extent, it is immoral. To some extent, let's not go overboard, I love a bit of junk on occasion. But, to regularly cook good, healthy, tasty food that you can look forward to is part of caring for yourself, being happy, self respect and self esteem.
Here are some recent, recipe free (apologies), simples suppers I have made of late:
Baked Cheesy Leek and Mushroom Chicken:
This was borne of having leeks and mushrooms that needed using. I seared and coloured a chicken breast with the skin on. Then in a pan I sauteed leeks and mushrooms in butter, adding flour and milk to change to a white, 'bechamel' sauce. I placed the chicken breast into a tiny baking dish, poured over the leek and mushroom bechamel and grated enough parmesan on top to ensure a cheesy crust. The whole lot went into an oven at 180C for 25 minutes to cook the chicken and crisp up. I served this with crusty bread.
Autumn Sausage Bake
I had a set of autumn vegetables bought with good intentions going to waste in the fridge. It happens. I chopped or crushed, shallots, garlic, a red pepper, new potatoes and baby carrots and added them to a non stick baking tray with three lovely, organic, free range, delicious sausages. I drizzled the whole lot with olive oil, added fresh rosemary and thyme, salt and pepper. The whole glorious mix took 30 mins in a preheated oven at 180C. It could have been beetroot, butternut squash, celeriac, parsnip, turnip or anything. It was yum. I still have three sausages left - they're in the freezer.
Burgers and Bits
The key thing here is delicious burgers and good bread, everything else is optionsal. I like fresh sweetcorn on the cob, tomatoes, good cheese, gherkins, salad. Homemade chips, or baby roast with fresh rosemary are not out of the question.
Burgers and Bits and Autumn Sausage Bake both deserve a glass of red wine. FACT.
Poverty Chic Daal
There are a thousand ways of making a daal. On this occasion I boiled red lentils and baby carrots in vegetable stock. Fried onions and garlic with a delicious curry paste (not a bought sauce); added tomato paste to the onions with the cooked carrots and lentils, and finally added winter greens for a few moments before serving. I ate the whole lot served on top of a warmed naan. Simple, delicious, cheap.
There, a few weekday survivors from this first week of October. I loved them, and they made me feel happy.