The Last Days of Summer

I have always said that September is my spring.

As summer comes to an end, I feel a tremendous sense of beginning. Excited for new things to happen and the year to unfold.

We spent our last days in the Basque Country exploring. Little corners of the world that only my dad knows well. Remote villages, a river stream lined with fig trees, or a field filled with wildflowers where we spotted a few leftover poppies from spring. These are the places where my dad feels at ease and loves to share with us.

In the nature preserve of Pagoeta, we saw the first signs of autumn as maple trees were beginning to turn colors. The skies were bright blue and leaves burnt orange. Jon followed my dad’s footsteps with a wooden stick in hand looking for mushrooms and picking wild strawberries. “Aitite, can you tell me the tales of fairies and mountain giants?” Jon asked. Stories that my dad tells to him at night, before bedtime. He listened in awe as we walked the forest.

We picked wild blackberries in Urkiola and ate them with yogurt panna cotta that I made for dessert.

During our visits, my parents’ home becomes a gathering place. We sit tightly around their kitchen table, elbow to elbow, eating course after course. For one of our last meals, I cooked a risotto with russulas my dad had found and red kuri squash I brought back from our trip to Iparralde. “This is so good!” my brother shouted — nothing makes me feel better.

For dessert, a simple galette with mirabelle plums, white nectarines, and red currants. It was gone in minutes.

We also picked apples, figs, and peaches from my uncle Javi’s garden. We took a walk around the property with him as he talked about his passion for gardening and pastry, his day job. “This has been a strange growing season” he said “Tomatoes have not done well, yet chestnuts are already opening up”. Indeed. All the chestnut trees were full of bright green, prickly cocoons. Some even open — a sign of things to come.

Back at home I made a apple, prune, and yogurt cake, similar to this one. The last days of summer would not be the same without an apple cake.

No, they would not.

Red Kuri Squash and Wild Mushroom Risotto

Serves 4 to 6

4 to 5 cups chicken stock
2 Tbs olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 leek, washed and sliced
1/2 medium red kuri squash, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup thinly sliced wild mushrooms (we used the russulas we picked)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/4 cup txakoli or any dry white wine you like
1/2 cup finely grated Idiazabal or Parmesan cheese
2 Tbs finely chopped parsley

Begin by heating the chicken stock over medium heat. Keep it warm until ready to use.

In a stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the shallots, garlic, and leek. Cook until soft but not browned, about 3 minutes.

Add the diced red kuri squash. Stir and cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for another 3 minutes. Season with salt.

Add the rice and stir it well so all the oil and flavors coat the rice. Add the txakoli or dry white wine and cook for 30 seconds until alcohol evaporates. Add 1 cup of chicken stock and cook stirring constantly until liquid is absorbed. Then proceed by adding another 1/2 cup of stock. Continue to cook the risotto storring constantly and adding more stock as needed until rice is cooked al dente, about 18 minutes.

Off the heat, add the grated Idiazabal and parsley. Stir to combine and serve immediately.


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66 Responses to “The Last Days of Summer”

  1. Everything looks so dreamy. I’m glad you got to go home for a little R&R. You deserve it!

  2. Gretchen says:

    What a lovely visit! Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos.

  3. juliana says:

    q lugar tan lindo! todos los años te digo lo mismo, pero la verdad q es maravilloso!

  4. waaaa your pictures are so beautiful and so bright

  5. Green, a reallly deep shade of green with envy. Gorgeous way to welcome fall.

  6. Eva says:

    Beautiful photos! It looks so wonderful and my husband and I just decided to spend one of our next holidays in the Basque Country!

    Eva

  7. Mike says:

    I love your photos, they are fantastic. Ps. you are right, the last days of summer are not the same without an apple cake!

  8. Just like last time, my favorite photos are the ones of M. in the fields, and the ones of the sheep! I think your father with J. is quite lovely, too! I love your reminders of Europe. Unlike you, I don’t know that I’ll ever get to return, but I love the images that remind me of the lovely views I always had (sorely missed here in the desert!)

  9. Con estas fotos me muero de ganas por que ya empiece el verano… Aquí en Chile recién estamos saliendo del frío invernal….

    y como siempre bellísimas fotos
    saludos de Espacio Culinario

  10. Beautiful – love the snap of the sheep!

  11. Maria says:

    I know how you feel, even though September here in Australia is in fact the first month of spring! Thank you for sharing these gorgeous photos from your home, I can see why you are so passionate about the Basque country – it’s beautiful! I am so happy for you that you had a chance to visit home. xx

  12. sécia says:

    Amazing photos. Everything looks so yummy as usual.

    ♥ sécia
    http://www.petiteinsanities.blogspot.com

  13. Frederike says:

    September is always my ‘beginning’ too. After the summer break I have plenty of new ideas and energy to start fresh. Besides, I love autumn with its colors, it’s maybe even my favorite season of the year.

  14. Such a treat. Wow, I am absolutely floating from this beautiful post.

  15. Carmen says:

    Como siempre, que ya no se que ponerte que no sea que fotosn tan bonitas, q rica receta….que bonito como escribes. Tu blog se ha convertido (hace tiempo, mucho tiempo ya) como en mi fuente inagotable de ideas…pensamientos.

    Por cierto tengo que decirte que hice las galletitas saladas que hiciste en Robin Food, te acuerdas?…Aran yo he seguido todo al pie de la letra y me salieron como muy grasosas, demasiado, de sabor estaban bien pero las tengo que repetir con mucha menos mantequilla.
    bso

  16. I too feel like I can handle the heat of Houston so much better now that we are past the horrendous summer months of Texas. Thank you for the photo tour of our family trip. It’s wonderful to see how your culture and country influence your blog and photography. It’s just wonderful!

  17. Beautiful post:) From top to bottom.

  18. so beauiful aran, the children look very much at home.

  19. Your nature and food clicks are so amazing and atmospheric! I really love your work. And that risottop looks and sounds splendid. So does the galette.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  20. Meeling says:

    Absolutely stunning photos!!

  21. Dzoli says:

    It seems everythings lives in harmony on your photos(I am sure in real is teh same).And kids seem so happy:) Enjoy;))

  22. The beautiful light of the area shows in all these photos. They have such a rejuvenating quality, and of course all your food looks amazing, especially the galette!

  23. Maia says:

    your photography – and your galette – look to die for. Basque country is home to some of my favorite food in the world. My husband and I traveled to San Sebastian, Spain for our honeymoon, and drove north into the south of France. Envious that you are so tied into the culture, the cooking, and the country!

  24. Barbara says:

    Absolutely gorgeous Aran. The Basque region is so beautiful. I remember those sheep. So different from the NZ and Australian sheep we see here. I have a beautiful Basque linen tablecloth and napkins with the 7 stripes in blue. When I use it I imagine I am back in St Jean Pied du Port.

  25. Simi says:

    I love your photography! (especially that sheep picture.) All beautiful :)
    xo Simi

  26. These pictures are so pretty it hurts! “Fall is my spring” — I love it. Completely agree.

  27. I absolutely love the cows from your photos… they remind me of those Milka Cows :)

  28. Merce says:

    Hi, siempre me gusta mirar tu blog, unas fotos preciosas… se nota que lo haces todo con mucho cariño, en Ingles, Vasco, castellano…siempre.
    Bye,bye

  29. Nisrine says:

    The photos tell a beautiful story. How pretty!

  30. Yelena says:

    This is my dream, go to the place like that-) I love your blog and your photos. Big fan!!!

  31. KateSouth says:

    What a beautiful trip! I adore fall, it’s my absolute favorite time of year. Definitely the perfect time for soups and risottos.

  32. Stunningly beautiful…the place, the words, the photos, the food. My oh my!

  33. MikeVFMK says:

    Aran, what a beautiful trip! Stunning pictures and incredible scenery. Sounds like the dinner table at your parents house is filled with love every night. Just beautiful.

  34. Thank you so much for sharing the spirit of your visit at home with us. I enjoyed reading it very much. And want to make a galette as soon as possible :-)

  35. notyet100 says:

    Wish I could visit this place

  36. tracy says:

    What a cute little girl!Your photography, very good!Each photo is very beautiful.

  37. C.B. says:

    Magnifique comme d’habitude.

    I always get depressed this time of year because my beloved summer is almost over. But seeing your pictures, full of life and colors, I just can’t be depressed anymore. In fact I’m running away from my Canadian fall strait to tuscany where I will try to take wonderfull pictures and not eat and dring like a pig (8 more sleeps):)

  38. We can breath a peaceful atmosphere through your photos! Everything’s so beautiful.

  39. What beautiful, happy photos. And what a lovely post.

  40. Marie-Ora says:

    I was grew up on a farm – now from the city I still look at images of the country with a sense of longing. These photos are just beautiful. Can I ask you about the red kuri squash? I’ve never heard of it…..

  41. Carmen- pues no se pq habra sido… igual el jamon tenia demasiada grasa?

    Barbara- yes, i love those tablecloths as well. so so basque!

    Marie-Ora- red kuri is also called hokkaido or potimarron in french. it is small, very bright orange, thin skin and has a chestnut-like flavor. it’s very very creamy. you should try it!

    Thanks everyone for your kind words. We are still recuperating from jet-lag and busy with new projects. I appreciate your words!

  42. Mary says:

    You live a blessed life. Thank you for sharing it with us!

  43. shelby says:

    sooo lovely… beautiful pictures, delicious recipes and stunning recollections..thank you!

  44. Andrea Reh says:

    Beautiful photos, as always. That risotto looks incredible! Will be printing it out, and adding it to the recipe folder.

    Andrea x

  45. andurejka says:

    You have so, so much beautiful family… I love your magical blog!

  46. Cora says:

    Wonderfull! The nature, the colors, the light, the childrens, the photos! You are truly blessed!

  47. Every image made me smile and tug at my heart ~ Such beauty. Your risotto recipe looks and sounds amazing ~ cannot wait to try!

  48. Aww … Look at that cute, Little angel. Amazing Pictures ! Thanks for sharing such a cute & lovely Post.

  49. such incredible beauty to be had here in these photographs…so happy to see them

  50. Gorgeous photos! I want to let my hair down and run through a lavender field in a long flowy dress, and then maybe eat some fresh berries. Yum!

  51. Darling your babies and photos are so precious! You have always been one of my most favorite photographers…..you make it all look so effortless and graciously beautiful. The galette is stunning…..fruit never looked so good! xo
    http://www.naturesfleamarket.blogspot.com

  52. Emily says:

    I love those sweet polka dot spoons you are using! Where can I find them to purchase? Thank you.

  53. Emily- the polka dot flatware comes from Europe. I bought some in Madrid and on this trip I bought some in St Jean de Luz.

    Thanks all!

  54. Ruth says:

    Love the photos. Especially the one with the handful of blackberries. ;-)

  55. Amanda G. says:

    Your photos are absolutely stunning! I want to take a walk in your shoes to see all these dreamy places!

  56. Your photos are positively breathtaking. It’s as if you lead a fairytale movie life.

    Maria xx
    http://www.cheekypinktulip.blogspot.com

  57. Telebrands says:

    It sounds (and looks) like you’ve enjoyed your last days of Summer. Thanks for the red kuri squash and wild mushroom risotto recipe.

  58. Ola says:

    when autumn begins I usually feel nostalgic, from your posts so much energy is visible!

  59. Dani says:

    Hermoso blog, très très très joli!!!! Besos desde Buenos Aires, Argentina

  60. [...] will do that to anyone I suppose. Seattle reminds me to the Basque Country in many ways and the variety of mushrooms is one – the late summer heat and rain are [...]

  61. […] call home however is roughly 5,000 miles (or some odd 8,000 km) away. I have lived away from the Basque Country for 15 years now and when I say I am going home, I mean I am going here. Where my parents, brothers […]

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