Yellow ones, green ones, ribbed ones and big fat round ones should you feel daring. My courgette patch has peaked and I’m overrun. Every morning come rain or shine I’ll trudge up to my beds and check how things have been going whilst I was tucked up in bed. I’ll curse the slugs, caterpillars and the neighbours’ cats, but now in late August I marvel at the al fresco adult-accessories store that is my courgette patch.
There is plenty of summer left, but these early morning forays remind me that autumn is not too far away. Every turning season holds its own magic, but at dawn in late summer the air is cleaner, the light crisper than perhaps at any other time. As August fades into autumn the biggest harvest of the year arrives, and with luck there will be gluts of abundance presenting the keener cooks with challenges that we are not faced with at any other time of year.
My courgettes have found their way into everything. Soup, pasta, on top of pizza, raw in salads, roasted and stuffed, grated in chocolate cakes (seriously, give it a go), and slowly stewed in butter. My editor, Pete, has kindly furnished me with Mrs Pete’s recipe for a savoury courgette loaf. This is next on the list, and it’s comforting to know that I’m not alone.
It’s at this time of year, at harvest-home, when not so long ago every housewife and cottage gardener would have set about the preserving pan, processing gluts of this and that into jams and jellies, pickles and chutneys. Making preserves at home is one of the most rewarding culinary activities I can think of. It’s labour intensive, but as intense labours go I can think of few more fulfilling.
If you still have an old jam jar going begging, one of my very favourite late summer pastimes is old-school wasp trapping. Take one empty jam jar with a scraping of jam left in it, add a splosh of water, swill it all around a bit, place in a sunny spot, crack open a cold beer, sit back and delight in Jasper after Jasper meeting their doom. So while I’m sat around nonchalantly killing innocent wasps, there are others also appreciating the start of Killing Season. The ‘Glorious 12th’ was last week, and the 12th August marks the start of the game season, or specifically grouse. The grouse fetches a princely sum, and is shot by princely types on heathery moors. It heralds the start of weeks of forthcoming gluttony. Brace yourselves and enjoy what’s to come.