#0031: An Indian Summer
Updated: Jun 2
As the late summer begins slowly to fade, my mind, inevitably, wanders to my favourite of the seasons.
To me, there will always be something magical about autumn.
After weeks of going to bed in twilight, there's excitement to found in seeing the night sky again for the first time after summer. As the evenings begin to roll back in, they bring with them the the hope of catching the Northern Lights dancing over the hilltops. A shimmering, twisting curtain of green, drawn beneath the canopy of a million stars reaching out from the clear, dark skies above the glen.
Here on the Secret Coast, the trees put on a show every bit as spectacular as the autumn night sky.
From the palest gold, through the brightest yellow, orange and bronze, to the most searing red that looks as though the forest has caught fire. They can all be found here.
Walking through the woods on a clear day, the green light fading for another year, the sun filters though the rusted leaves, bathing the understory in a golden glow. Overhead, red squirrels forage for winter stores whilst, underfoot, fallen leaves crackle and crunch amongst the carpet of amber needles.
Over in Loch Fyne, basking sharks sweep the depths, jaws agape, for a last fill of plankton before setting out to deeper waters to see the winter through.
As the weather cools down, now is the time to start layering up in warmer clothes. My favourite Icelandic sweater. Heavy denim and shearling. My ever-growing collection of lumberjack shirts.
And of course, that chill in the air is all the encouragement I need to move away from the salads and barbecues of summer, back to something a little more warming. Just as bonfires spice the autumn air, so it is that I look for a little more heat in my food as the temperature drops outside.
For me, spiced vegetables are the perfect autumn food. Warming and nourishing enough to bring you back to life after a day of adventure, but still light and easy going. Better still, this recipe uses a slow cooker, which means that after the initial preparation, you can leave it to do its thing whilst you focus on the important stuff.
Go on an adventure.
Breathe in the crisp, fresh air.
Take in the full spectrum of the autumn leaves.
Or curl up by the fire with a good book, watching the woodsmoke twist up through the trees.
However you choose to spend your time, there'll be a delicious meal waiting for you when you're done.
Start by chopping your vegetables into bite sized chunks and placing them in the slow cooker. I tend to use a small head of cauliflower, a courgette, a carrot, a deseeded red pepper, a large onion and 300g of baby new potatoes.
Grate in four cloves of garlic and a thumb sized piece of peeled ginger, then add four tablespoons of tikka paste, two heaped teaspoons of garam masala, a heaped teaspoon of turmeric, half a teaspoon of dried chilli flakes, a heaped teaspoon of crushed cumin seeds, a heaped teaspoon of crushed coriander seeds, and two bay leaves.
Stir in a tin of chick peas, a tin of chopped tomatoes, and 150g of vegetable stock, then pop the lid on and leave it to cook on the low setting for nine hours.
Once the vegetables are cooked, stir in 200g of frozen peas and a roughly chopped bunch of coriander, and serve immediately with steamed rice and flatbreads.
Even though the summer's on its way out, there's always chance for an exotic adventure.