I love autumn. It’s my favorite time of year. I love sweaters and tights. I love crisp, cool air and the sound of leaves crunching under my feet.
That’s why I’ve been a bit irritated at the weather here lately. There has been the occasional fall day but mostly it’s been hot and humid. Yuck. My least favorite weather. However things seem to finally be changing. We had a few days of much needed rain and late yesterday the sun came out and with it a cool breeze and the smell of clean air. No more stickiness.
Cooking Sunday dinner in the fall is a pleasure not a chore. Today, miraculously, our obligations were over by noon and after a run to the grocery store I was set to make a big batch of beef stew. Beef stew is one of those cozy, comfy foods that feels good in your belly on a cold day. Here’s my version.
Crock Pot Beef Stew
(Pre-heat the crock pot)
2 lbs beef chuck stew meat cut into bite sized cubes
2 Tbsp of seasoning salt
3/4 cup flour
3 Tbsp butter
3 medium onions
5 medium russet potatoes skins on, cut into chunks
1 lb of carrots (I cheat and buy the pre-cut kind) cut into chunks
1 3/4 cups of beef stock (of you buy canned get the low sodium or leave out the salt in the recipe)
2 bay leaves
a few dashes Worchestire
Put the meat pieces and seasoning salt in a large plastic bag. Add the flour and shake until all the pieces are coated. Then melt the butter in a frying pan and, in batches, brown the meat. About a minute on each side. When the meat is done toss the onions in the pan and cook them until they soften. If necessary add another pat of butter. Put the meat and onions on the bottom of your pre-warmed slow cooker. Add the other vegetables. Then the liquid and seasonings. Turn everything over until it’s all moist and set your crock pot. I cook this on low for about 5 hours.
Here’s what you get.
Then I wanted a hearty vegetable dish but I didn’t have any sweet potatoes (the ones in the grocery store were icky) So I used what I had, not the kids favorite…
My kids won’t eat this, says you. Sure they will says I if……
You drown it in cheese.
Cheesey Broccoli and Cauliflower
1 head of cauliflower, rinsed and cut into florets
1 bunch of broccoli, rinsed and cut into florets
(or just buy the pre-cut florets)
4 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp flour
1 cup milk (lowfat works fine but with all of this cheese , why bother?)
4 cups of cheese (I used a combination of sharp and mild cheddar, I grated it myself but the bag stuff is good too).
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil a large pot of water, when it reaches a rolling boil add the vegetables and cook until crisp tender, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile melt the butter in a pan. When the butter melts add the flour and whisk until smooth. Lower the flame and cook gently until it turns golden, then add the milk. Turn up the heat to medium high and stir constantly until the sauce thickens. When it is a saucy consistency remove from the heat and season. Then add 2 cups of cheese and stir until melted and smooth.
Drain the veggies and put into a large casserole dish. Pour the sauce over the veggies. Now top with the remaining cheese and run it under the broiler until it is hot and bubbly and browning. This will only take a few minutes so watch it.
Autumn is the best time for dessert. The apples and pears are at their peak and it’s finally cool enough to want the oven on long enough to bake something. Autumn smells for most people include cinnamon and ginger. We are no different here in the Bonny Blue House and I was hankering for gingerbread. This recipe is from Betty Crocker’s New Picture Cook Book circa 1965. My mother received it at her bridal shower. It was written before anyone cared about their cholesterol and it’s my favorite cookbook.
1/2 cup softened butter
2 tbsp sugar
1 cup of dark molasses
1 cup boiling water
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a square baking dish (9×9). Cream butter and sugar. Add the egg and combine. Blend in molasses and water. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add in batches to the wet ingredients, beat until smooth. Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 45 – 50 minutes until done. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
Now a pretty table and we’re all set.
I hope you enjoyed your tour through our autumn feast. Have a blessed evening.