Today marks the first day of autumn. I think just about everyone is ready for a new season. I can see it in every face I meet.
Fall starts what my kids would call the “grand finale,” that final flourish of the year before the dormancy of winter, which will give way to spring when everything can begin anew.
There are some vendors who can’t come to the farmers market every week, but when they do, it’s a real treat and I stock up. This month, Outlaw Katfish Company from Des Allemands was at my market with softshell crabs, lump crabmeat, catfish and more. I bought a pound of lump crabmeat and four pretty soft-shell crabs.
Right now, I can identify with these softshell crabs. From April to mid-September, they’re in a transition of molting; it’s a new season for them, too. Of course, we interrupted their season for our dinner. (Sorry, little fellas.) I dredged the crabs in this simple breading and sautéed them in a little butter and oil. You know they’re done when, like autumn leaves, their bluish shells turn vibrant shades of red and orange.
The lump crabmeat is delicious in a simple Mornay sauce. Mornay is a traditional béchamel sauce, or white sauce, made with cheese and cream. The sweet crabmeat mixed with the cream makes a velvety sauce. This version is a very creamy dip. To make it more saucelike to serve over sautéed fish, for example, decrease the flour to one tablespoon.
Persius said, “Live within your harvest.” I try to live by those simple words every day by using what I find locally and making the very most of my means. Like many, I’ve succumbed to late summer burnout, and I feel spread quite thin. Autumn reminds me to refocus on my harvest and savor this beautiful season.
Teresa B. Day is a local food writer and author of the “I Eat BR” blog. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.