Nostalgia’s door is flung wide open

Archived | September 12, 2011 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. It was pretty warm outside and I spent much of the day cleaning up the yard, weeding and trimming and paring it all down for autumn, for fall, for my very favorite time of the year. Everything has a golden cast to it, and feels rich the way rich was meant to be: purples and brown and oranges and yellows and reds; scents of nutmeg and cinnamon and lovely thick sauces and dense, chewy breads; crisp air, pink cheeks, the sound of feet moving through dry leaves, geese honking in the evening sky.
The thing about this time of year is the reminder that things come and go. Nostalgia’s door is flung wide open, and Memory gives us a complimentary tour. It’s not a sad time, but thoughtful, and more lovely the walks in the woods. My best memories are of autumn days, rolling in the leaves with my brothers and our family dog, waking early on frosty Saturdays to go cut wood with my father in the F150 we named “Ruby”, long afternoons in the kitchen baking pies and cookies with my mother.
You can’t go back, for sure, so forward it is. We’re older now–all here but the dog–and our parents are now grandparents. The beauty of it is that the leaves are going to need raking, and we’re all craving apple pie. The pantry is full up with flour and nutmeg, and my brothers and I have our own children to haul out to the woods. It’s the Turning, the blessed Turning. And so it goes.
Now we’re cookin’. If you grew up where I did, the name of this dish alone will bring up a fine memory or two. My grandmother made it for us after orchard visits in September, and who can resist a mix of sausage, apples, and cabbage? Not this girl.
Red Cabbage and Kielbasa
1 medium red cabbage
boiling water
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 T butter
1/2 cup dry red wine
salt and pepper
2 tart apples–peeled, cored, sliced
1 pound kielbasa or Polish sausage
Slice kielbasa in serving-size pieces. Brown lightly in a skillet and set aside. Shred red cabbage and scald with boiling water. Drain. Pour lemon juice over cabbage and melt butter over medium low heat in a Dutch oven or stock pot. Add red cabbage, seasonings, and apples. Cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Top with Polish sausage or kielbasa and cook for 15 minutes longer.
Serves about four.