Early October takes us to the autumn glory of Maine, the forests a symphony of colors, breathtaking hues of gold, yellow, and orange, bright scarlet and dark reds, a spectrum of greens from lime green to dark jade.
Packing my bags with hiking boots and fleece jackets, I think about what we will eat during out weeklong visit, knowing we’ll arrive at a naked kitchen, pantry and refrigerator completely empty.
Knowing also of chilly nights and the appetites caused by daily hikes and fresh mountain air, I plan a menu based on satisfying hefty soups and tasty stews.
To prepare us for crisp mornings that nip at nose and fingertips before setting out for mountain hikes, I plan for breakfasts that alternate one day between warm bowls of fruit-laden oatmeal and the next day something with eggs. Bellies filled with enduring, energizing nourishment, we walk for pleasant hours through the woods, luxuriantly carpeted with a kaleidoscope of leaves, fallen branches and tree trunks dressed in velvet green moss, the song of water dancing merrily around and over boulders and rocks.
Some days we meander through glorious multi-colored forests, branches dancing to the singing wind. Other days we hike steadily uphill, higher and higher until suddenly we are above tree line with breathtaking 360 degree views, waves of mountains on the horizon, the Androscoggin River a wavy, silver ribbon in the distance, the last hurrah of green meadows before autumn strips their color in prelude to winter’s blankets of snow. A simple hummus wrap, or turkey on rye seasoned by fresh mountain air and vigorous exercise becomes a gourmet feast in such a setting. Orchard-fresh, burst-in-your-mouth juicy Honey Crisp apples are a sublime dessert.
Here’s our menu for that glorious week, one-stop grocery shopping and a naked kitchen. To minimize waste, I buy only the amount I need from the bulk bins – oatmeal, brown rice lentils, dried cranberries etc.
The vegetables I incorporate into two or more meals. On a rainy day when we stay in, we have leftovers for lunch and I always plan a leftover dinner on the second-to-last night. For our last night we go out to eat. Because we generally have a daybreak departure, we clean out fridge, pantry and kitchen the night before.
- Orange slices
- Scrambled eggs with spinach and chopped red bell pepper
- Whole-wheat toast
- Red Lentil Soup
- Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad with Toasted Walnuts
- Cheese toasts on baguette
- Apple slices
- Carrot Ginger Oatmeal (1 cup oats, 1 1/4 milk, 1 tablespoon grated ginger, 1 grated carrot, 2 tablespoons chopped nuts)
- Cod and Spinach Coconut Stew
- CMF Rice
- Kale Slaw with Green Onion, Cranberries and Walnuts with lime vinaigrette (whisk juice of 1 lemon with 1/4 cup olive oil, season salt and pepper to taste)
- Bowl of grapes
- Soft-boiled eggs and toast
- Turkey Meatball and Kale Soup
- Corn on the cob
- Carrot, Celery and Apple Slaw with lime vinaigrette
- Orange slices
- Apple Cranberry Oatmeal (1 cup oats, 1 1/4 milk, 1 apple chopped, 2 tablespoons dried cranberries, 2 tablespoons chopped nuts)
- Sweet Potato Shepherd Pie
- Roasted Brussels sprouts (trim and cut remaining Brussels sprouts in half, chop any leftover onion and toss together with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in oven while Shepard Pie is cooking