It was too damn dark to get up this morning for spin class at 8 am, but not for my husband. I was impressed and annoyed at his early morning energy or that I had none. I wanted to go to spin with him but I couldn’t talk myself out from under our cozy comforter.
While he was in a deep snore at 4 am this morning, I was reading my Kindle, immersed in the 4th book of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan series. I knew I shouldn’t have been reading – I know the Kindle light “stimulates” my brain – but it’s such a good story and it takes place in Naples and there’s so much good food in it –I feel like I’m eating the words and it’s so satisfying. What’s the alternative anyway? I’m so not into the tossing and turning torturous effort of trying to fall back to sleep – I’d rather read than fight it. And it’s autumn and in autumn I feel like “giving in” to my cravings. I feel hungry for comfort in October.
That’s why I was in a sleep coma this morning. I was tired from my reading gluttony.
That may explain why I couldn’t get up yesterday morning either or any morning since the cold snap hit about 2 weeks ago. I don’t need a Fit Bit to confirm that I’m not sleeping through the night.
The truth is, I’m transitioning, just like the seasons, the geese and the bears. October is a month that seems to be my portal for transitions – the most noteworthy is, my boys were both born in October, and I am reminded they are both a year older and so am I and that feels like a leap forward which makes me sleepy too.
And, in New England in October, you can’t miss the “transitioning show” that’s happening outside. The leaves are leading the way – they’re peaking and dropping and dissolving all at once. The sun is low in the sky and it feels cozy and a little quiet. Nature is getting ready to sleep and I’m feeling it too.
As cozy as this is, my biorhythms are messed up this time of year. With the frosty dark mornings and daylight’s disappearance by late afternoon, my body feels confused. With all this change I am facing a loss of my nutritional discipline. Not only am I wanting to sleep later into the mornings, my appetite is increasing. I am craving heartier foods – salads are not cutting it for me. I want pasta with red sauce, I want full bodied soups with bread and I want stinky cheese. I’m craving chocolate again after swearing it off all summer. And of course wouldn’t you know it — Halloween is happening all week long and my favorite food group has landed in my cabinets in preparation for the neighborhood feeding. Is it any surprise that each October my poundage goes up?
At 4pm I want a nap – at 8 pm I want HBO. And dinners are completed by the heartiest of Cabernets.
I’m confident that, I will emerge from this indulgent “week(s) of darkness” in a few days. I know relief is on the way this coming Sunday, on November 1st when it will be brighter out in the morning when we “Fall Back” and move the clocks back to Standard Time. The time change is definitely good news for our New York City Marathoners who won’t have to wear headlamps at the starting line this Sunday. And, maybe I will awaken from my sleep and food coma to watch the start, but it’s hard to imagine because right now – I can’t seem to get off the couch. But, my husband told me by next week I will be more energetic and he’s signing me up for the 8 am spin class next Sunday once again. He’s such an optimist!
So since I may only have a few more days to indulge in this autumn laziness I have a plan for the last night of darkness before the morning light hits my window at 7:30 am when we all “Fall Back.” I’ve planned the perfect menu that my husband and I will enjoy with friends as we fill the kiddies bags with poor food choices.
Doesn’t this menu speak of indulgent comfort? What else should I consider?
Black Bean, Corn and Butternut Squash Chili from Catherine Walthers
Fig Jam With Truffle Goat Cheese smeared on a toasted baguettes.
(I discovered Truffle Tremor cheese at Dean & Deluca this weekend and I’m still salivating at the thought of it). This cheese is from Northern California (they also make Humboldt Fog and won a silver medal at the world cheese awards.
And – A bottle of a hearty Cabernet.
PS – No Salad.
Here’s the recipe for the Chili
This vegetarian chili recipe combining black beans, corn and butternut squash is my go-to recipe for a Halloween dinner or potluck. It cooks in less than 30 minutes and is easy to make. I love using fresh corn if available; it offers the best texture. The recipe appears in Soups + Sides, adapted from Katie LeLievre.
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes, with juices
2 to 3 cups water
4 cups butternut squash, approximately 1 medium squash, cut into 1/2 –inch dice
2 cups cooked black beans
Kernels from 3 to 4 ears fresh corn (approximately 2 cups)
2 to 3 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1. Sauté onions in oil until translucent, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add
garlic and sauté another 2 minutes. Add spices and continue cooking while
stirring to prevent burning, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and break apart
with a masher. Add squash to pot along with 2 cups of water and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, turn down heat to a simmer and cover. Let simmer for about 15-20 minutes, or until squash is tender but not falling apart.
2. Add black beans and corn, and the additional water if needed, and simmer to let flavors blend. Remove bay leaves. Season with additional salt. Garnish with chopped cilantro.
Trick or Treat