Archive for October, 2013

Songs of hope

How do the leaves look so alive when they’re dying?

And how are you so beautiful when you’re crying?

These lyrics written by a friend of mine never fail to remind me that some things are most spectacular when nearing their end, and sadness can surprise you with beauty. 

Changing seasons is one of those things for me, and makes me both restless and comforted. I get excited by the movement of temperature, moisture in the air, and color of plants and produce. I also find assurance in the regularity of such movement—in remembering that there is normalcy in the ongoing change. 

But I have to confess that I haven’t always been as aware of these changes, or as effected by them. It’s so easy to barrel through days, running to keep up with schedules without a thought to what the weather is doing. It’s difficult to pay attention to the movement of the globe when everything is so accessible all year long. I’ve had to practice being aware of certain changes, and every year I notice something new.

I’m not an expert in keeping a leisurely schedule, but I am trying to slow down enough to acknowledge the beauty in the dying leaves, and appreciate the hidden blessings in situations beyond my control. Paying attention to the seasons has even made me aware that my heart moves in a cycle, too: introspection in winter, anticipation in spring, exhaustion in summer, and inspiration in autumn. And throughout it all there is always gratitude—more and more each year—for time to rest, for new life, for abundant produce, and opportunities to start again. 

Seasons come and seasons go 

We keep standing, singing songs of hope


One of my favorite ways to appreciate the waning abundance of summer and the new food available in fall is to make this delicious chili—a perfect seasonal segue. 

Pumpkin Chili
(Adapted from here)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small pie pumpkin (acorn or butternut squash are fine substitutes)
3.5 cups chopped tomatoes
2 cans (19 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
2 individual chipotle peppers (not two cans), finely minced

16 oz. veggie stock, chicken broth, or water
2 tbsp brown sugar or maple syrup
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp each cinnamon and oregano

4 tsp salt (add more to taste)
1 bell pepper (any color), diced
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels

Pierce pumpkin a few times with a fork and microwave on high for 1 minute. Once cool enough to handle, cut in half, remove seeds, and cut each half into 6 wedges. Peel and cube each wedge.

Pour oil into a large pot set over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and squash, continue cooking 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, beans, chipotle peppers, broth, brown sugar, and seasoning.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes or until pumpkin is tender. Stir in bell pepper and corn, simmer for another 5-10 minutes or until corn is bright yellow and peppers are soft. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve piping hot with your favorite chili garnishes.