Tuesday, October 25, 2016

In my autumn kitchen


We haven't been experiencing the cool, crisp days I dream about all year, not yet. Fall has made a few brief visits here and there, while most days have been much warmer than average for this time of year. I'm not really complaining; I love cool weather and I do hope it arrives soon, but a prolonged period of warmth isn't such a bad thing. We're saving on heating, for one thing. The small Bears are still mostly wearing shorts and t-shirts, which makes them happy. I can leave the doors open all day for fresh air and never have to worry about heat escaping, or heat coming in, for that matter. So I'm making the best of it. They say the weather is likely to turn in the first week of November and I'm looking forward to that. In the meantime, I've certainly started living like we're in the middle of autumn, even if it doesn't always feel like it. My cooking is probably the place it shows up most so far, as I've been busy making all the autumnal things we enjoy.


We've enjoyed an apple pie and a pumpkin pie so far, in addition to an apple crisp, to which I added a handful of dried cranberries. It's just a basic recipe from my trusty Betty Crocker cookbook, but it's an old favorite. We've had a huge number of apples given to us by a neighbor (ours were spent by the end of September), so I've been looking for ways to use them. Baked apples, apple pancakes and apple muffins, along with applesauce, have all been on the menu chez Thistlebear this fall.


I started roasting chickens again a few weeks ago. It's one of our favorite meals. Easy and plentiful too; there are always leftovers for soup or casseroles later in the week. It's my go-to Sunday dinner in the cold months, probably twice a month.


Lately, we've enjoyed an occasional change of pace with our chickens: the Bear smokes a whole chicken, cut into serving pieces, in our backyard smoker. He did this one on Sunday. He used applewood chips and the chicken was perfect - juicy and just smoky enough. He loosely follows a recipe from Steven Raichlen's Project Smoke.


Has there been some kind of asparagus renaissance over the past couple of years? I swear, asparagus is nicer, and cheaper, than it ever used to be. It's available all year now too; I always used to think of it as a spring-only vegetable. I've been buying it almost every week lately. We all like it but I think I could easily eat a whole one-pound bunch, just steamed or boiled lightly. Yum.


As always, when fall comes I want to make all the soups. I use the crockpot a lot, like when I make this chicken tortilla soup, from my own recipe (here, if you want to have a look). This is one of my favorite things to make with leftover roast chicken.


I discovered a wonderful tomato soup recipe recently, from the New York Times. It's really simple and easy to make and the soup is hearty and delicious. I've made it twice in the past two weeks!


I've been making one of my old standbys again, veggie lasagna. This one had spinach and carrot. I like to throw in whatever I have in the produce drawer and it's always a little different, but some of my favorite veggies to use are zucchini, carrots, spinach and mushrooms. I'm beginning to think I need to make two of them at a time - what used to feed all four us with a few leftover lunches isn't quite doing it anymore!

There's lots of other fall-ish dishes I love, of course, including other soups. Soup is just my thing. I make soup at least once a week, sometimes two or three times! I haven't been doing as much baking lately as I usually do when the weather turns cooler. I need some new ideas, actually; I'm starting to look ahead to Christmas cookies already and wouldn't mind trying something new. If you know one I might enjoy, please pass it on.

What have you been cooking lately? How does your cooking change with the seasons?

26 comments:

  1. Mmm, lots of deliciousness in your kitchen Jennifer. It's good when there are lots of apples to be used isn't it. I'm almost at the end of mine, and I haven't seen many around at people's gates this year sadly. Lots of pears left though. The biggest boy has been on a mad baking spree this week. We're barely keeping up with all the puddings there are to be eaten. Doing our best though. Lebkuchen is one of my favourite Christmas cookies. I don't have a recipe though. I might have a look this year and see if I can find a good one. CJ xx

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  2. Everything looks really yummy, Jennifer! I make more soups in the autumn and winter - and stews and casseroles too. Just generally more warming comfort food rather than the salads that we've been eating in the summer.

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  3. What delicious looking meals you have been making Jennifer. I enjoy autumn and winter cookimg very much, stews, casseroles etc, all the meals that are easy to make, and also freeze well for busy evenings. I like making gingerbread cookies at Christmas, the recipe I use is from Peggy Porschen's book, Boutique Baking, it might be online somewhere (it is also on my blog). I am starting to look forward to Christmas cooking and baking too, it is one of the most enjoyable parts of the festive season x

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  4. Your meals all look wonderful! I make soup frequently starting in the Fall too, and last weekend I made a big pot of chili. Yum!

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  5. Everything looks delicious Jennifer!
    Cheers!
    Linda :o)

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  6. Wow, your meals look delicious! I love the roasted and smoked chicken. We have a pellet smoker and I'd like hubby to do more of this kind of thing. I like making beef stews and homemade clam chowder.. homemade chili too. We're home from the beach.. was a fun time. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  7. Scrumptious meals and baking! So many temptations in a kitchen!
    Greetings,
    Olympia

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  8. You eat well Jennifer! Your dishes really look good and I am ever so hungry, I wish I could tuck in. The chicken looks particularly yummy. xx

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  9. It all looks and sounds delicious. Soup continues to be made in my kitchen as it is an easy thing for my Dad to eat when he is not so good. The chicken looks scrumptious.

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  10. Jennifer, we are living parallel lives. Roast chicken and apple crumble on Sunday, squash soup yesterday. From the age of about seven my daughter used to love making Butter Biscuits following Nigella's recipe. They are very easy to make and we used to put half the dough in the freezer for a second fun day of rolling, cutting out and icing.

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    1. The pumpkin pie sounds delicious. I've got a pumpkin here all cut up for soup but there's so much that I'm thinkin

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  11. You're certainly serving up some mouth watering dishes. I've had apples and pears given to me by my neighbour so they're on the menu here at the moment. I think we eat more comfort food when the weather's colder, casseroles and pies, and lots of roast dinners too.

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  12. I love when Autumn comes, and it does it slowly here, and I can start cooking hardy meals again. Your roasted and smoked chickens look absolutely delicious.

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  13. It all looks rather yummy Jennifer, I love homemade soups and slow cooked meals too once the weather gets cooler and I absolutely love veggie lasagna. :) xx

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  14. There's nothing like home-cooked, hearty food when the temperatures drop. We've been eating out all this week as we're on holiday in the Lake District. I love cooking but it's so good to have some time off. The pub over the road from the cottage does amazing food which is perfect for refuelling after our long walks. I had the most delicious Shepherd's Pie today, followed by chocolate and damson pudding. (Needless to say, I am not worrying about my waistline this week!) As for Christmas cookies, I make the Nigella Lawson biscuit recipe (from How to Eat) which we cut into christmas tree or star shapes and ice. S x

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  15. We're definitely having fall weather here. Cool, crisp, rainy days. Rain is much better than snow in my opinion! I made a roast chicken last night and will use the leftovers tonight for a homemade chicken pot pie. I love using the oven again since I avoid it in the summertime. All of your goodies look delicious.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  16. Roast chicken (with crispy skin) is one of my favourite things. I'm also a soup lover and often eat it when DH is away overnight for work. I made a spiced butternut squash soup a couple of weeks ago and Beetroot soup which has soured cream and horseradish in it (I pre-cooked the beetroot in my slow cooker/crockpot). Asparagus season here in the UK is late spring/early summer and I like it steamed or boiled, then dipped in soft boiled eggs - asparagus soldiers!

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  17. Oh my so much delicious goodness in your photos Jennifer. We love soups here, and make at least two different ones a week. And veggie lasagna is my fav, sadly my little man doesn't like it :( I make it when company comes. Enjoy!!!!

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  18. All of your dishes look so delicious, inspired me to go and make some soup..Thank you. Woo xx

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  19. I wish we were still in shorts and t-shirts here! I'll trade weather with you. ;-) Your chicken, soups and lasagna look delicious. I make soup a couple of times a week here, too in the fall and winter. I love making a huge pot so that there's leftovers and it's so easy to heat up for lunch the next day. I don't know if you saw Alicia P's soup recipe on her latest blog post (October Soup). I made it a few days ago and it was amazing! I wrote about it on my blog too, and posted a photo. I'm going to check out your recipes for the tomato soup and lasagna. Thanks!

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  20. Okay, now I am really hungry. You should have had a warning about your post, do not read if you have not had lunch. I was thinking I would make soup this weekend, I have a similar recipe I made up, it sounds delicious.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  21. I love roasting chicken. Now that it just hubby and me we get several meals out of it. They were 69 cents a pound this week so I bought three of them to freeze.

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  22. Yum! I love seeing what you are cooking :) My youngest daughter just learned how to "roast" a chicken in her pressure cooker. She sears both sides of the chicken then pressure cooks it. It comes out like the store rotisserie chickens we like. Today I tossed tomatoes, fresh basil, onions and garlic, a yellow bell pepper, mushrooms, and broccoli into my crockpot, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning, and olive oil too...I think the broccoli took over. I like broccoli, but it was too much of a bully in the mix today. I'm coming over to your place for some tortilla soup! xx

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  23. Mmm, autumn cooking is my favourite. Lots of things involving apples and squashes here, and more stews and soups. I'm going to try pumpkin pie for the first time tomorrow. All your recipes look and sound delicious, especially the tortilla soup. Xx

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  24. I love doing one big meal for the week too!!! I've been experimenting with beef stew meat; thinking a stew this week may be in order! I am going to look at your t. soup! finally getting caught up with some of my blog reading! lovely to visit you here!

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  25. everything in your kitchen looks so delicious, can I move in?

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