I used to love this time of year.
I loved watching the leaves slowly turn from summer greens to brilliant reds, oranges and golds.
They don't really do that here.
I loved the cool crisp evenings with the bright harvest moon of October.
Here, the nights skip cool and go right to cold, rainy winter.
I loved getting out the colorful knit sweaters and warm wool clothing.
Here I have a few more months before I shed the sleeveless tops.
We do, however, get all of the wonderful fall foods: wild mushrooms, winter squashes and pumpkins, apples and nuts.
I could adjust to fall here, with it's modest 'change of season' ritual….
If it wasn't for the one ritual I have learned to dread since deciding to live in ancient French farmhouses.
The annual spider migration.
All summer long we've had small to medium size daddy-long-leg type spiders everywhere. They spin webs faster than the blink of an eye and are in every corner. At least once a week I suck them all into the Hoover, plus a few flies to feed them, and that's that.
I don't even scream when I see them, and have been known to actually brush them off the furniture with my very own bare hands.
I'm not happy with the webs everywhere, but I can live with it.
Last night the big guys showed up.
Every year in the fall, at our house in the Vendée, the big spiders would start moving into the house.
Every year mon mari would be required to drop whatever he was doing at my first scream and deal with the spider. I don't actually require that they be killed (although he does); I just want them out of my presence…. and house.
In my opinion, they were big spiders.
Mon mari always pooh-poohed, saying they were mere babies and I didn't know what a truly big spider looked like.
Now I do.
He was big….
At least 5 feet across….
Okay, okay, 5 inches (12cm).
And that is not an exaggeration.
His body was probably an inch across but his legs were enormous!
I screamed (naturally).
Mon mari groused (naturally).
And walked into the bedroom (why are they always in the bedroom?) with a tissue – his customary WSD (Weapon of Spider Destruction).
He took one look at it and went out to the barn to get his heavy-duty broom.
I told you it was big….
I assume they spend the summer in the walls and start to move inside as the days get shorter.
Our walls are 2' (60cm) thick (I measured). They're built of stone. One would think the spiders could find a perfectly adequate space to live in somewhere in the walls if they didn't want to move on to new digs.
They grew too big for the walls…..
I wish I could explain to them that, they can have the walls but if they come inside they die.
I'd be perfectly happy if they kept to their place and I could keep to mine and never the twain shall meet.
I think they know they have the upper hand, though…. At least with me.
Apparently my screams aren't nearly as irritating to them as they are to mon mari.
He did make a deal with me, though…..
After all my trips to the hospital – some unplanned at a moment's notice, he promised to kill all spiders without complaint.
I guess he doesn't consider grumbling under his breath as actual complaint.
The other thing I like about fall is stuffing vegetables. I stuff them all, any kind, any size… First course, main course, side dish….
Stuffed Mushrooms with Browned Shallots and Garlic
6 large mushrooms, (1 1/2 – 2" diameter, 4 – 5cm)
3 cloves garlic
3 tsp olive oil
1 tsp soy sauce
3oz (90gr) soft goat cheese it comes in a little 4-sided pyramid shaped carton; my 'brand' is Chevraux, I think in the U.S. it's Chavrie
Clean mushrooms, removing stems.
Roughly chop the shallots and mince garlic. Heat 2 tsp oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and garlic and sauté until shallots start to brown, about 10 minutes. Put shallots, garlic in a small bowl, add goat cheese and mix well.
Add 1 tsp oil and soy sauce to the same skillet. Add mushroom caps and sauté until light brown, 3 – 4 minutes, turning once. Remove and place on a baking sheet – with a lip so they don't slide off.
Spoon goat cheese mixture into mushroom caps, dividing evenly. Bake in 375F (180C) oven for 10 minutes, until they are light brown.
To finish: When mushrooms are done remove from oven. Spoon some tomato sauce onto the bottom of 2 small plates. Divide the mushrooms and arrange on sauce. Serve, garnished with olives if you have them.
4oz (120ml) tomato sauce
1 tsp Balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp dried basil
Heat all ingredients in a small saucepan.
In addition to the above, for the week of August 28 we have Barbecue Stuffed Pork Tenderloin, Grilled Salmon with Tomato Tarragon Sauce, Cobb Pasta Salad, Potato Tomato Gratin, nd more….
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