The autumnal equinox assured one and all that fall was here. It’s only been a few weeks, but the weather has not been particularly fall-ish. Although there’s been a couple of frosty mornings and a few cool days, for the most part, it feels a lot like August. I tend to let my early walks gage the change of season. It is an annual cycle of shorts to leggings to double leggings then back to a single pair and shorts again. Except for a one-day blip, I’m still in shorts.
The shift to leggings is only one of a good many sign of the changing seasons. A few fall indicators, maybe more than a few, kick off before the equinox. I’m not sure if that’s quite right but who am I to judge. Anyway, there is a long list of clues to let you know it’s fall. For some, it’s the first flash of foliage. For others; it’s when Halloween candy hits supermarket shelves. Football fanatics loudly applaud the first game and, yes, preseason counts – ask any fan.
Then again, perhaps the first pumpkin spice drink is your harbinger of autumn. In case you are wondering, no, I don’t imbibe in pumpkin spice lattes or pumpkin spice martinis. Yes, I know they are wildly popular. But don’t look to me to embrace all things fall with a frou-frou drink in one hand and a pumpkin in the other. I need both hands for the pumpkin.
That’s not to say that I am without wicked indulgences. I bake a fabulous (if I do say so myself) pumpkin cheesecake every Thanksgiving. And yes, it’s packed with traditional pumpkin pie spices plus a tablespoon of cognac. If you don’t have cognac you can substitute rum.
Anyway, after a summer in shorts and T-shirts, most fall firsts are about cooler temperatures and getting cozy. While I stick to my basic skim-milk-no-foam latte, I do look forward to the first fire in the fireplace. I’m also happy to slide the first plump chicken into the oven to roast. Of course, I’m delighted to bring home the first local apples and bake up something wonderful. I’d be remiss if I didn’t include stirring up the first pots of soup and chili as well as marinara and/or Bolognese.
As much as I love cozy, there is one first I do my best to avoid for as long as possible. That’s the first time I put on socks. As for chilly evenings by the lake, well, I’ve been known to sport naked ankles while wearing a down parka.
Perhaps the toughest fall first decision is WHEN TO TURN ON THE HEAT. I avoid the inevitable acceptance that it is no longer summer or Indian summer or early fall for as long as possible. It was easier when I lived abroad in rented apartments. True or not, the rumor among expatriates was that the Swiss powers-that-be had decreed a standing date. Every October, it might have been the third Monday or the twentieth or sometime around then, the heat came on.
September could be record breaking cold or October unseasonably warm; it didn’t matter. The radiator began to clang right on schedule, never a day early and never a day late. Make the mistake of timidly asking for heat before the designated day and the landlord would simply tell you to put on a sweater. Too hot? Well, open the window.
Back in New Hampshire, I have no landlord to regulate the thermostat. My bank balance determines when I finally click the heat on. For now, I’m putting on a sweater.
Have a cozy fall and bon appétit!
Everyone loves apple crisp and (pardon me while I pat myself on the back) my latest version is incredible! Enjoy!
- Crumble Topping, recipe follows
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 5-6arge, firm-tart apples – I like Granny Smith, peeled and chopped
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2-3/4 cup (more or less depending on your sweet tooth) maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons calvados or apple jack or rum
Make the Crumble Topping. Refrigerate the topping while you prepare the fruit.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 2 quart baking dish.
Put the apples, raisins and ginger in a large bowl, sprinkle with the spices and toss to combine. Drizzle with maple syrup and calvados and toss again until well combined.
Transfer the apples to the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with Crumble Topping. Put the dish on a baking sheet to catch any drips and bake for 1 hour or until the top is brown and the apples are tender and bubbly. Serve warm with vanilla or ginger ice cream.
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- Pinch nutmeg
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold, butter, cut into small pieces
- 3/4 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
Put the flour, brown sugar, salt and spices in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse corn meal. Add the oatmeal and continue pulsing until the topping comes together in little lumps.
I like to make a triple or quadruple batch of Crumble Topping and freeze the extra. For a last minute dessert, I prep fruit and sprinkle with topping. It’s in the oven in minutes.
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- One Year Ago – Grain Bowls with Quinoa, Black Beans & Sweet Potato
- Two Years Ago – Mediterranean Meatballs with Couscous
- Three Years Ago – Pumpkin Chili with Turkey & Black Beans
- Four Years Ago – Ravioli with Roasted Butternut Squash
- Five Years Ago – Hearty White Bean & Tomato Soup
- Six Years Ago – Cherry-Pistachio Biscotti
- Seven Years Ago – Tagliatelle alla Carbonara
- Eight Years Ago – Carbonnade á la Flamande – Beer Braised Beef & Onions
- Nine Years Ago – Braised Beef Bourguignon
- Ten Years Ago – Pumpkin Cupcakes
- Eleven Years Ago – Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!
How do you get cozy? Feel free to share!
Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2019