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I cook better when the chill winds of October blow

When the October wind rises and the mornings and nights blow chill is when my cooking skills return to me.

Summer is a breeze. Fresh vegetables and other produce abound to slice quickly and throw in a pan with pasta. Stir fry with colorful peppers and broccoli is easy like a Sunday morning, and the taste is as fresh as the garden it grows in.

This type of cooking is a no-brainer. Iíve noted before I donít can or freeze things. Bless all of you who do, but Iím not cut out for it.

We gorge ourselves on fresh tomatoes, warm and plentiful from local land and farm markets. Corn is eaten every week until we canít eat it anymore as well as the candy onions that I buy locally and use in my enchiladas to give it that special taste.

When the harvest is over, so am I. I await another fresh tomato next August.

Call me peculiar. Thatís okay. I love a good can of petite-cut tomatoes for salsa just as much as a ripe one. Thereís a unique taste that it brings, that biting acidity condensed inside the can that completes the dish. I use canned tomatoes for beef stew, spicy soups and to blend up with jalapenos, onion and cilantro for a quick dip.

Jalapenos are the only thing I freeze, and youíll find an abundance in my freezer any time of the year; I use them more than almost any other veggie. I pop them in whole, and when I need one, I run it under hot water and slice it into morning eggs or for a good spicy sauce. They never go bad.

I find fall weather brings out the best in my baking and cooking. Iíve made numerous pumpkin and banana breads for us to eat as well as to send to hungry mouths in college. Pans of bars appear now and then, and a good chocolate chip cookie is welcome any day.

What is it about colder weather that makes my cooking more fun? Maybe I donít get hot in the kitchen. There is pleasurable color outside my window that brings joy to my kitchen minutes.

Iím sure itís because itís my favorite time of year, and with that everything seems easier.

Promises of making homemade tamales have me trying to find the time to blend the masa and other key ingredients, gently folding them into corn husks with a spicy center. My first tamales came to me on the back of a bike on a chilly morning in Mexico.

The man with the big hat and louder yelled, ďTamales! Tamales!Ē It pierced through the morning, and we tumbled outside the warm house to buy the steaming goodness. He held them in a large, deep metal pan that emitted steam, delicious and fragrant when he took the lid off, and after he placed them in a plastic bag and we turned over our pesos, we headed in to dine on them. He drove off with his big, metal pan attached to the bike, and I dug in to my first tamale. My taste buds have never been the same, and my quest to duplicate the flavor has taken years.

As the cooler weather moves in, Iíll attempt a large batch of tamales. Though my first encounter with them was a street vendor, I also watched my husbandís mom make them totally by hand. From the purchasing of the ground nixtamal, to the mixing in a huge vat with lard and other mysterious spices, to the spreading of them in a corn husk with a dollop of sauce and meat in the center and watching them steam to perfection, they melted in my mouth, the verde (green) ones my very favorite.

My small kitchen, cozy and serene, will meet me as I bring the ingredients and assemble them. With my newly purchased tamale steamer, Iíll await their flavorful goodness as I try to recreate the magical blending. With the cool weather as my inspiration, Iíll pop one out early, gently open the husk and delve into the flavor. I crave them, just as I crave cooler weather.

Published: October 20, 2016
New Article ID: 2016710209967