Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Leaves On My Lines

Autumn has arrived and just as every autumn, British trains get delayed or cancelled because there are "leaves on the line" I am finding myself getting behind with, (or on), stuff in various ways. Rather a lot of leaves seem to have come down on my lines, figuratively speaking, if I can put it like that. 

1 Falling behind with blogging. Writing and reading / commenting. I worry about this. Not the writing so much, as the reading and commenting on others' blogs which I am struggling to find time to do as assiduously as I would like. For this I can only apologise. I honestly don't know how those who operate Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as a blog, find the time to do it all. Perhaps I am just inefficient about how I use my time. 

2 I have also fallen behind on all sorts of work-related things, courtesy of a 'fluey bug that has laid me out for ten days or so. I am not a very patient patient so it is good for me to be stopped in (or on) my tracks occasionally just to remind myself of how much I usually take for granted but I now seem to have a lot to catch up on which is in itself stressful and making me feel bogged down in the equivalent of soggy, leaf mulch. 

3 Falling behind on various crafty ideas I'd planned to get ahead with in September although I am  making progress on a new, seasonally-cosy, hooky project. This was designed to use up my stash but seems to have required me to buy several repeats of colours I wanted to use but didn't have enough of. A frustratingly common problem, I find, every time I think I'll start something stash-busting. That aside, I'm rather pleased with it. For once, it's my own pattern. More details, in due course, hopefully.

4 Falling, not so much behind, as back, on archetypical autumn food - in other words a lot of pumpkin.

Roasted Pumpkin and Aubergine Soup With Cumin - deeelicious, quite frankly! 

The recipe, if you want to give it a whirl yourself, is as follows:

Hack a small pumpkin, (by which. I mean one weighing around 3 lb / 1.5 kg) into wedges with a large, heavy knife. Be careful while doing this  - it's easy to get the knife stuck like Excalibur in the pumpkin flesh and, in the absence of King Arthur's strong arm, it can be devilish hard to extract it again without risking injury. Once you've got the pumpkin hacked into wedges  - about 8 - switch to a smaller short-bladed knife and cut out and discard all the woolly fibres and seeds from the core of each wedge. Trim off the stalk ends of 2 aubergines and split them in half lengthways. 

Put all the vegetables, skin-side down in a roasting tin and roast for about an hour at 200 C until they look like this. No, you don't need to add any oil. I don't anyway.

While that's going on, toast a teaspoonful of cumin seeds in a small pan and when they begin to sing and pop, remove from the heat and tip into a mortar and crush to an aromatic spicy powder.

Peel and chop an onion and cook it in a spoonful of olive oil until beginning to soften. Add the pounded cumin seeds, about 2 tsps salt and about 2 pts / 1 litre of water and cook the onion until completely soft. (I do this in my pressure cooker because it's so quick - a few minutes as opposed to 20 or so).

When the roasting vegetables are ready, remove from the oven and allow to cool a bit. Then scoop out all the beautifully soft, melting flesh from the skins with a spoon and add to the onion pan. Discard the skins. Add some black pepper. Stir everything together and heat through, then whizz to a thick, fulvous purée in a blender. You may need to add some extra water to thin it a bit, if it's really thick but not too much - it should be thick and cosy not thin and floaty.

The addition of the aubergine gives the soup a wonderfully velvety texture that pumpkin doesn't have on its own, while the cumin adds a subtle spiciness, without being over the top. If you prefer things spicier, you could use a bit more cumin or "knock yourself out" as they say, and toast and grind some coriander seeds to add in as well, or add a bit of grated, peeled, fresh, root ginger for added aromatic heat.

Spiced Pumpkin Muffins - I love these (and my autumn plates that are now enjoying their annual outing). You can find my recipe for the muffins here - scroll down past the slippers!

Pumpkin Cheesecake - I know this is a heresy but I don't much care for Pumpkin Pie. Pumpkin Cheesecake, on the other hand, is a different matter - all the traditional pumpkin spices mixed with roasted pumpkin flesh in a creamy, baked cheesecake. I ate this once at a Thanksgiving party given by an American neighbour in London and she kindly gave me a recipe which I've tweaked a bit over the years. It's lighter than a classic baked cheesecake - less sweet and less rich as a result of lightening the cream cheese and eggs with the puréed pumpkin flesh. It might not quite qualify as "healthy" but it's heading that way!

What do you mean, you'd like something other than pumpkin to eat? It's October!

5 Falling behind with keeping an optimistic outlook on the world and finding I am worrying about anything and everything, both on a macro level and a micro one. Worrying doesn't improve any of it, of course, but I can't seem to help myself.

Despite the leaves that seem recently to have accumulated on my lines, I do love this time of year - the patterns of tawny, autumn light on greeny-gold leaves turning to bronze and the fall colours of the hedgerows. So while I wait for my wheels to free up a bit, I am trying to hang on to the unchanging changing of the seasons as an anchor in what seems to me sometimes, especially when I hear the news, a bewildering, crazy and hostile world that's travelling at a pace I just can't keep up with.

Wishing you all a gentle Autumn week 
(especially if you feel, like me, that there are leaves on your lines!)

E x


  1. So much of what you've said is the same for me! I feel I can't keep up with blogging, especially reading and commenting on other's blogs. Don't know how I could manage the other things like Instagram and so on. I also have had to buy more yarn to finish a stash-busting project. Only needed enough to finish a couple of rows but I might be able to use most of the new ball for the border - we'll see. And I also worry. Just can't help myself. Worry about everything even when I know there's nothing I can do. Hope you're feeling better and can get your lines cleared!

  2. Sorry to hear that you have been ill ! Sometimes our body just says "stop!", it's wise to listen to it !
    And when you write "worrying about anything and everything", I seem to hear my children talking about me and my endless warnings and recommandations !!!...(a mother is always a mother, isn't it ?)
    Love from France

  3. Hope you are feeling better and that you lines will clear soon. Its easy to say stop worrying but not so easy to do, I too am a bit of a worrier.

  4. There seem to be a lot of these bugs around; hope you're feeling more perky now. I think I may have to try all your pumpkin recipes as we have a pumpkin in the garden that's grown so large it would make a comfortable seat - it will be very Excalibur like trying to hack into it. Your soup sounds delicious. I've just unravelled a rug I crocheted a couple of years ago and used the same wool to knit a replacement rug that's much bigger and I still have leftover wool.
    Hope you clear the leaves so that you too can have a gentle week. And don't worry :)

  5. Sorry to hear you've not been so well and are having so much trouble with the leaves, but there is nothing better than homemade soup this time of year, is that a poncho you are making? I look forward to finding out, as for the world it's becoming a worrying place right now, but all you can do, is do good and believe other will too.
    Clare xx

  6. Your gorgeous foods are making me hungry. Pumpkin soup will be on our menu this week as we have two wee ones that spontaneously grew in the compost heap from last summer. Toasted cumin, yes, please, I will try that. The pumpkin cheesecake looks yummy, too.

    Hope you are feeling all better and can get back to your crochet!

  7. Courage ! des moments dans la vie où on s'inquiète facilement.... je comprends ! je crois que nous avons tous celà parfois. Je ne sais pas comment font les personnes qui peuvent être sur les blogs et tous les autres réseaux sociaux ... je ne peux pas !! je suis comme toi là dessus ! cela ne m'inquiète pas. Le blog suffit à partager avec des passionnées..... Je suis impatiente de voir ton ouvrage terminé.... Contente en tout cas d'avoir de tes nouevelles ! A bientôt ! hugs !! géraldine

  8. I know what you mean about feeling as though you are falling behind the pace of the world, it is crazy at the moment, so I am retreating to my home life. Not burying my head in the sand, just trying not to get too tied up in knots about it all. Don't worry about the blogging thing, it comes and goes for all of us and you just do what you can and most importantly want to do. Love your soup and the description of hacking the pumpkin into bits, they are hard to cut up aren't they, I often think it would be easier to take them outside and hit them with a hammer! xx

  9. It was lovely catching up with you. No wonder you are behind, a nasty bug will do that to you and make you feel awful in so many ways. Glad you are feeling better now and are able to get back into the swing of life. Pumkin cheese cake sounds delicious, I might give it a go.
    And your soup looks so yummy.
    Take good care of yourself,

  10. Stumbled across your blog. It's a challenge to keep up with both writing a blog and then finding the time to read and comment on other blogs, especially when you work or have other things competing for your attention. I usually try to set aside one day a week to catch up on my reading and commenting for about two hours.

    Love the color schemes of your crochet projects. I'm currently working on a granny square blanket to gift to my mom for the holidays.

  11. "leaves on the line"......I had not heard of that expression, but I like it. Much more poetic than the way I often feel -- like I'm slogging through mud, or trying to swim through jello. I think part of my midlife 'crisis', if you will, is realizing that a day is not going to come (at least not in this life) when I have everything done or feel like I have gotten it together, whatever 'it' is. I am slightly surprised by this because when I was younger I had assumed that I would eventually reach that sanguine place of perfect equilibrium:) The positive side of this revelation is that I can no longer put things off (such as crochet and pumpkin recipes) until the perfect time or circumstances. Savoring the beauty in the midst of 'falling leaves'. Not so easy for me, but that is what I'm after these days. It is a comfort that friends even across the ocean have similar feelings, and yet push on. Your pumpkin cheesecake looks delicious!

  12. The mental image of 'leaves on the line' being enough to stop or delay something as large as a train makes me smile as it is the little things that tend to 'derail' me as well! I have to learn to climb back on the track and move on and save my temporary derailment as a funny story for the blog! :)
    The things that go on in the world make me wonder about the future awaiting my children and our new grandaughter, I am so glad for my faith during these unsettled times, can't imagine life without that security!
    Hope you are feeling better now and that feeling better improves the outlook as well!

  13. Hi Elizabeth, what a wonderful autumn post! I have a lot of leaves on my lines, as well. And I like this expression very much. Usually I work with lists, ticking off one item when I have finished it. But these days I do not dare to write lists because I fear they would get too long. How to cope with life's requirements is a question I regularly ask myself and I am sure I will never get a satisfying answer. But I hope that you are feeling better by now. Your pumpkin cheesecake looks so amazingly delicious! Hugs, Viola

  14. How very expressive, leaves on the lines. I had forgotten all about this over the summer. My strategy to cope is to bury my head in the sand and pretend that I don't exist......or freeze, like a deer in the headlights. I can't complain of course, having just returned from a weeks holiday without my family but no doubt, things will creep up on me again soon. I love the colours of your hooky project, particularly the yellow. I am notoriously bad at stash busting, always buying "just one more ball". I must admit I am not fond of pumpkin soup and hate the texture of aubergine. Maybe combining the flavours in a soup are just what is needed.
    I hope that you have now fully recovered from your bug! Look after yourself. Cx

  15. What a lovely post! Yes, I too often wonder how other bloggers keep up with Facebook, Twitter and all the other 'stuff' I live without. At my age (mid sixties) I don't concern myself with social media and just plod along with my blog. I know that some young people would feel inadequate because they can't keep up with what other people do but the reality is that real life and our family is our main concern. I love the colour of your crochet project!


Thank you so much for taking the time to visit me at Mrs TT's and comment. I love to read what you write.