I’m the sort of person who hates being cold. You might think I would choose to live in a warm climate instead of Pittsburgh, but I like it here for other reasons, and I like having four distinct seasons even though three of them can be chilly and the coldest one often seems very long–it just feels right to experience all of these seasons in the cycle of the year.
To keep myself calm about the encroaching evil coldness, I have a number of practical rituals for welcoming the new season by getting out things that have been put aside during the summer. First I start wearing my long-sleeved shirts and purple hoodie jacket; then I unpack my sweaters and silk underlayers from the storage bin and put away my shorts and sundresses and summer nightgowns, and I get my wool coat out of the back of the closet and start wearing it, and I finally wash my down jacket (which has been at the bottom of the laundry pile since March, most years…) so that it will be ready to wear when the really cold weather comes. We move the clutter away from the heat vents and move my son’s bed away from his drafty window. And we start making our fall recipes!
We don’t have air conditioning, so all foods that bake in the oven or take a long time on the stove are avoided during summer. I’m further attracted to warm foods (and drinks) because I feel the cold more intensely until I get used to it. Our farm share helps to keep us in tune with the seasons by inundating us at this time of year with potatoes, carrots, turnips, and apples. These are some of the things I enjoy making, beginning around this time of year:
Start off the day with Optimal Oatmeal, my favorite filling, nutritious, warm breakfast food. Sometimes I eat it as a snack, too!
Marinara Sauce for pasta or other recipes is a great way to use the summer’s last mushy tomatoes and green peppers. Later in the autumn, it can be made with vegetables frozen in the summer. I’ve made a September spaghetti sauce with apple and a January spaghetti sauce with turnip. If tomato sauce tends to give you excess stomach acid, try this trick for less acid spaghetti sauce.
If you have lots of less-than-perfect vegetables, roasting them will give them a great flavor as well as warming up your home. Here are instructions for roasting tomatoes and roasting cauliflower, including the leaves. The same basic technique works for potatoes, turnips, green beans, almost any vegetable.
Stuffed Shells are quicker than lasagna and less messy to serve. We always have them for Christmas dinner, but we sometimes make them at other times, too. All that pepper is very warming! The shells reheat well for lunches.
Lazy Loubie is very easy to make but is the kind of food that warms you all the way through! It can be a main dish or side dish.
Spend an afternoon filling your oven with Honey Baked Lentils, winter squash or sweet potatoes, and Raisin Bran Bread–then you can warm up leftovers all week! All these foods are high in fiber, which can be lacking in our diets as we slack off from the fresh produce of summer.
Another great oven meal is baked beans with a diced tart apple mixed in, and Pumpkin Cornbread or something like it. We don’t have our own baked bean recipe because we’re so fond of the one from The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen–that’s what gave us the idea of adding the apple, and we were skeptical, but it’s really, really good!
Lentils are an excellent, affordable, environmentally friendly protein. If you get tired of Honey Baked Lentils or feel like making something on the stovetop, try the many variations of Lentil Rice, or make a pot of Apricot Lentil Soup, or use those mushy tomatoes in Green Ribbon Lentils.
Another yummy soup, in this season of low-priced sweet potatoes, is Garlic Kale Sweet Potato Soup from the 365 Days of Kale site. I like to use a little more sweet potato than the recipe says.
I like to save several weeks’ worth of root vegetables from the farm share and then make a Potato-Turnip Thing. I recently included an eggplant in this, and it was luscious!
Check out the Works-for-Me Wednesday Fall Recipe Swap for more tasty ideas!
Update in 2011: It’s autumn again! I added a few recipe links and decided to share this post in the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop of “real food” recipes.
Update in 2012: It’s autumn again! I added a few more recipes and decided to share this post in the All Year Round Blog Carnival: Autumn.
Update in 2014: It’s autumn again! I added even more recipes and shared this post at Real Food Fridays.