Friday, September 23, 2011

The Last Day of Summer

Susan Pachikara (COPYRIGHT 2011)

I am conflicted when my dahlias finally open their petals with the panache of frozen fireworks. By the time they appear, much of the community garden is in need of rest. The corn flowers stoop. The zinnias bend their necks. The oak trees begin to shed their scalloped leaves. One-by-one, they hit the ground brown and crunchy. With autumn on its way, the landscape is inevitably being drained of color.

Susan Pachikara (COPYRIGHT 2011)

I have a passion for fiery fall leaves, but I am never ready to give up the comfort of the flowers that grow in my neighborhood. It is particularly difficult knowing that in Chicago the brilliance of autumn gives way to weeks of gloomy gray skies. I guess it's the price Nature exacts upon those that want to experience all four seasons.

Susan Pachikara (COPYRIGHT 2011)

Thankfully, the farmer's market is still full of color. For added comfort, I remind myself that autumn brings a stretch holidays that feature food front and center.

Susan Pachikara (COPYRIGHT 2011)


Serves 4 to 6


For the sweet potatoes:

2 cups diced sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

For beans:

2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup finely sliced red onion
1 1/2 teaspoons slivered garlic
1/4 teaspoon cumin
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
8 ounces white mushrooms, finely sliced
1 15-ounce can pinto beans

For guacamole:

1 medium avocado, seeded and peeled
1 small lime
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup finely diced tomato
1 tablespoon minced cilantro

Susan Pachikara (COPYRIGHT 2011)


Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spread potatoes over foil. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Rub potatoes to make sure they are coated evenly with oil.

Bake until fork tender, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

Heat oil for beans in a saute pan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Cook until onions soften, about 5 minutes. Add cumin, oregano and salt. Cook for 2 minutes.

Increase heat to medium-high and add mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms soften, stirring off and on.

Lower heat to medium. Add beans. Stir. Cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

On a quarter plate, mash avocado with a fork. Squeeze lime over avocado.

Add salt and pepper. Mix with a spoon.

Add onions, tomatoes and cilantro. Mix together.

Susan Pachikara (COPYRIGHT 2011)