fall and I are not friends. it’s not as catty as it sounds.
I get giddy and dreamy over iconic seasonal things like summer tomatoes, winter citrus, spring flowers, and autumn leaves despite rarely in my life having experienced distinct seasons or their fruits. the only season I’ve lived – really lived, and not just passed through – is summer, which in florida and even here in alabama, isn’t whimsical or jaunty or kind or even, really, pleasant. there’s no graceful transition here: all of a sudden the clouds break away, and we denizens of the harsh unfiltered just have to accept that for the next eight months we’re going to be swimming in ball soup if we step outside for more than twelve seconds. still, I understand summer and have come to terms with its ugly parts because I can see them and feel them. I accept them and appreciate so many things about summer despite.
fall, on the other hand, is elusive and strange. as it exists in its highly fantastical state in my mind, it’s a beautiful place. I want to be there and I want there to be here. but the real fall that shows up when a new school year starts and when plans are being made for this month, next month, next billing statement, next tax return, next blahblah – this fall is not dreamy. this fall is the Monday of the calendar year and it brings a vacant vapid funk for me every time it comes around. standing still with my gaze having been pointed in the same direction for two minutes but seeing nothing. I forget to breathe. I inhale, I wait, I watch and realize the air I take in fills some other lungs. I watch the body that moves. I watch with eyes that seem of myself but not of the body they’re watching. I wonder how, why, are they the same? is anything?
but looking back to things tangible and palpable, the sun and soil here in alabama feel no obligation to masquerade as autumnal. last week marked the beginning of our fall CSA, but what our farmer delivered to us was a proper summer bounty: mixed squash and zucchini, white globe eggplants, okra, a rainbow of bell peppers, and the sweetest baby collard greens. it was beautiful. it was abundant. it wasn’t pumpkins or apples or sweaters or hay rides and crunchy leaves. it was gratitude and disappointment and bitterness and joy. it was what it was and now here I am: grasping for understanding; something to know and to face; a way to cope with this fall, resolving to savor the last flavors of summer while I can.
end of summer squash frittata
a simple and fragrant frittata made with the last vestiges of summer vegetables and herbs
two tablespoons olive oil, divided
two or three squash and/or zucchini, thinly sliced
one teaspoon salt to sweat the squash
black pepper, to taste
dried thyme (optional)
dried basil (optional)
salt, to taste
place the sliced squash in a large colander or strainer in the sink. salt the squash (a teaspoon or so) to draw some of the excess moisture out. stir to coat and allow to sit and sweat for about half an hour. if you’re short on time, skip this step.
after squash is sweated, heat a large skillet over medium-high. coat the skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil. squeeze the squash over the sink to remove more moisture and then toss the squash into the skillet. (if you skipped sweating, just toss the squash into the skillet after slicing.) cook until they’re as tender and/or brown as you like. I like them caramelized with crispy spots, so I’m scarce with my stirring. once done to your preference, remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.
reduce the heat on that burner to medium-low. place an oven-safe* medium (10-inch) skillet on it and add the other tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. while it heats up, crack four eggs into a bowl. season with pepper and dried herbs, if using, and whisk the eggs with a fork until fairly well mixed. transfer the cooked squash to the medium skillet, give the pan a gentle shake to (sort of) evenly distribute the squash, and then pour in the egg mixture.
turn the oven broiler on to low and position an oven rack to the topmost position. allow frittata to cook on the stove until mostly set, then when just the top is still wet, stick it under the broiler for two or three minutes or it’s done. cut into big slices or small slices; eat it with salad, with bread, with fruit, or by itself.
*don’t have an oven-safe skillet? here’s my janky trick that may or may not be safe/something you should try: I covered the plastic handle of my skillet with aluminum foil, shiny side out. the skillet’s only under the broiler for a few minutes and the handle doesn’t seem to suffer any adverse effects during that time. it works for me. just be careful if you try it, and be sure to use an oven mitt to reach in and grabbing the skillet.