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Cooking for the Changing Seasons

Fall Cooking Style (From Aveline Kushi’s Complete Guide to Macrobiotic Cooking)

During the late summer, energy begins to flow downward until it becomes very condensed by late autumn. The change from hot to cool weather is often sudden. To mitigate this change, we can begin to adjust our diet in late summer by including more early fall squashes and root vegetables in our meals. In autumn, food is more plentiful than at other seasons. Just as the trees produce a multitude of yellows, golds, oranges, reds, browns, and light greens, these beautiful colors are found in the cornucopia of grains, beans, squashes, root vegetables, and autumn greens, such as kale, turnip greens, daikon tops, and cabbages. Many of the foods harvested in the fall have natural preservative qualities and can be stored for several months to be used through the cold winter and into the spring. Millet and round vegetables, such as onions, turnips, cabbages, and squashes, may be served more frequently in the late autumn months. During the summer months, the kidneys and bladder are often overworked because of an excess intake of liquids, fruits, raw foods, and salty snack items in an attempt to balance the extreme heat. In autumn, the results of this imbalance are experienced in colds, coughs, and other sicknesses of adjustment. Stronger cooking in autumn, as well as the change in weather, starts to discharge this excess. At this season, we can begin to introduce more rich tastes and styles of cooking into our menus, such as bean stews, fried or deep fried foods, creamy grain stews, sweet rice and mochi, hot amasake, and pureed squash soup and squash pies. Dishes can be prepared with longer cooking times and styles, such as long, slow nishime-style boiling, long time sautéing, or kinpira style braising. Vegetables may be cut in larger slices and chunks for longer, more slowly cooked dishes. Sea vegetable dishes can become hardier and include tempeh, dried tofu, or soybeans. In autumn, foods may start to be seasoned with a little more sea salt and a little more oil. The amount of raw foods served can be substantially reduced and dried or cooked fruits used more in preparing desserts.

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