I can't help but think that nature gives us a helping hand as often as she can. The trees in the park look like flaming torches as their leaves turn every shade of red, orange, yellow and amber you can imagine. They burn like flames, reminding us to make our homes as cosy as we can, to lay in a stock of candles so we can light up the darkening evenings. The blanket of leaves on the ground remind us to layer our homes with the snuggliest of soft blankets we have, to ward off the winter cold. There is something about seeing the suggestion of the skeleton branches on the trees, and knowing they will soon be stark and bare that reminds us how very soon winter will be here, to enjoy this fleeting season while we can, and to lay in our stores for winter.
Laying in your stores makes you feel cosy and prepared. This time of year I like to make sure that I have an extra box of teabags in the cupboard, a few extra portions of home made stew or soup in the freezer, and a little store of tinned tomatoes and so on, all laid by ready for a snowy day. Although it is unlikely (fingers crossed!) that we would get snowed in for days on end, there is something really comforting about knowing that you don't have to go out and brave the icy weather, that you will always have something to tide you over another day or so. Don't forget, of course, to have a pint of milk in the freezer to go with your tea bags!
It isn't just food and drink that I like to lay by, but a knitting project or so, a little pile of black and white films to watch, a variety of candles, and a little pile of books (Miss Read is a favourite at the moment, very gentle and undemanding) all waiting for a dark evening.
But to turn away from the future for a moment, back to today. This morning the new issue of Mollie Makes arrived. I don't normally like orange and yellow as colours, but perhaps becuase of the time of year, I just love the cover. It follows the usual theme of a pair of hands holding something, which I think is so simple but effective, and this time it is someone wearing a yellow jumper holding a mug which is covered with an orange mug cosy. It is another gorgeous issue, full of ideas for things to make as Christmas gifts that aren't too Christmassy in themselves. After watching Kirstie's Handmade Britain, I read the magazine, and then crocheted a mug cosy for Carl. Alas I don't have any orange or yellow yarn, so I used an oddment of really soft purple yarn. I am going to buy some blue yarns tomorrow for my Dad's Christmas gift, so I might pick up a little ball of orange then.
We are going to visit a friend this evening to see her new flat, and are eating dinner there, so I thought it would be nice to take something with us. What better than some after dinner chocolates, and as it is autumn, with a twist?
Autumn Spiced Pumpkin Truffles
On a blustery autumn afternoon, light a candle, flick on some Peggy Lee, and tie on a pretty apron. Break up 8oz of milk chocolate into fairly small pieces, and set aside in a bowl. Meanwhile, combine 1/4 cup of pumpkin puree and 1/2 cup double cream in a small saucepan. (Thats just over 4 floz and 2 floz respectively) Stir in 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon, and then a big grating of freshly grated nutmeg. Set over a low heat and stir gently, then take off the heat just before it reaches boiling point.
Pour the hot spiced pumpkin cream over the chocolate, and stir until it is melted. Then stir in an ounce of butter until the mixture is smooth and glossy.
Now you need to leave it to cool. You can hasten this by pouring it into a shallow dish, putting it in the fridge, or both. When the mixture is cool, take teaspoons of it and roll into balls. It is a bit easier and less messy if you coat your hands lightly in cocoa powder first.
From here you have the option of finishing the truffles by either rolling them in cocoa powder or melted dark chocolate. I am going to do half and half. I haven't got any at the moment, but I think they would be pretty with a dusting of orange edible food glitter on top.
When I take them, I am not going to say they are pumpkin truffles, but ask people to see if they can guess what the mystery ingredient is. The pumpkin definitely serves a purpose by being there, both in terms of texture and flavour, but I don't think you would immediately realise that is what it is.
Oh, before I go and roll those truffles in cocoa powder, for those of you who have asked, Bonfire Night is November 5th. And a big thank you to everybody who has entered so far!