As glorious as the summer has been, there is no need for hearts to grow cold in the month of May, knowing that winter is a mere handful of weeks away.
According to Just Another Mother blogger, Rowena Newman, the slow-moving, slow-cooking days of late autumn offer some of the finest family moments on the calendar.
I used to think of May as the invisible and forgotten month, the month for which nothing really springs to mind.
January always sits so easily at number 1; igniting the senses with sweaty sunscreen, swimming pools and sausage sizzles. February is the ecstasy of getting two kids back to school.
At number 7, July races onto the footy field at the start of the second half, all wrapped up in fleeces and muddy footy boots. And August really is a fat lady at number 8; struggling up heart-break hill and full of anticipation for the downhill run onto Bondi Beach and into summer.
But now, when I think of May, I am lying on my couch on Mother’s Day. The sun is streaming in through the closed patio doors and I can see the autumn leaves gently falling onto the deck outside.
The air is clear and there isn’t single cloud. It’s warm inside. Instead of the interminable loop of the Frozen sound-track, my music that is playing (it is Mother’s Day after all) and the children are playing quietly and happily.
We are all healthy. We are all happy. And a batch of minestrone is brewing in the slow cooker.
Minestrone, and all its slow-cooking cousins, are a life source in these cooler months, delivering bucket-loads of vegie-power in every spoonful (or so it seems). And that surge of healthy nutrients is just what we need to help stave off the winter ills.
Did you know that most adults will get two or three colds a year, while kids can get up to ten? Each!
Apparently children cop the worst of it because they don’t have the immunity to cover the 100-plus different cold viruses in circulation.
Of course, minestrone isn’t the only defence against winter sniffles. Regular exercise helps too, and we really make an effort to be as active as we can.
Proper hand-washing is so important to stop the spread of germs when someone in the family comes home with a cough or runny nose.
And while there’s no scientific evidence just yet, my personal hypothesis is that flannelette pyjamas by 5pm on Sunday night have a very protective effect…
But for sheer, feel-good, heart-warming, belly-filling winter goodness, it’s hard to go past a big old bowl of Minestrone.
- 1 cup Italian Soup Mix dried bean combination
- 3 tbs rice bran oil
- 2 brown onions chopped
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 3 rashers bacon rind removed and chopped
- 400g can chopped Italian tomatoes
- 8 cups vegetable stock
- 1 tsp fresh marjoram
- ½ teaspoon fresh thyme
- 2 carrots peeled and chopped
- 2 potatoes or 1 swede peeled and chopped
- 1 parsnip peeled and chopped
- 2 sticks celery chopped
- 4 zucchini
- 1 cup of small shell pasta (optional)
- Freshly grated parmesan
- Fresh parsley to garnish
Heat oil in a large saucepan; add onions, garlic and bacon and sauté for a few minutes. Add tinned tomatoes, dried beans, stock, marjoram and thyme and bring to boil. Cover and simmer for a few hours.
Add potato (or swede) carrots, celery and parsnip and cook for another 15 minutes (or longer is no problem either).
Add zucchini (and pasta) about 10 minutes prior to serving.
Cook until all the vegetables and beans are tender. Serve generously with a handful of parmesan and a sprinkle of fresh parsley.
It dawns on me now, that this might be it. Health, home, family and minestrone. This is quite possibly as good as it gets.
And, with that realisation, I know that I’ve finally caught the essence of this most elusive month. Hi 5 is a moment of bliss and a bowl of minestrone on a sunny autumn day in May.
Rowena- Just Another Mother