Fall is a beautiful season. After the first frost the leaves of many trees change. The mixture of brown, yellow and red is gorgeous, and the scent of fireplaces begins to fill the air. This is a time for thinking of actually turning the oven on.
Pickled Eggs: This is a stunningly simple dish and it makes a beautiful arrangement when it’s done. Boil and peel the eggs and pour pickled beets over them. Stow them in the refrigerator and in a few weeks they will have a slight flavor of the beets as well as the color. If they are soaked long enough, the color often makes its way clear through the yolk.
Pumpkin Custard: Some of the ornamental squashes are miniature versions of pumpkins. They aren’t as easy to hollow out as a bigger pumpkin, but it can be done. Bake the empty shells (and lids) for about half an hour prior to adding the custard.
The custard is a basic recipe. I use a half cup of whole milk or half and half, three eggs, a quarter cup of sugar and vanilla to taste. Whisk together and pour into the shells. This will easily fill four small pumpkins, and any leftover custard can be baked in a ramekin. When a knife comes out of the center clean, the dish is done.
Stew: My family prefers that I make at least half of the stock used in a stew, whether it’s chicken or beef. As I have a pressure cooker, this is easily done. I bake/brown the bones (leftover bones from a whole body chicken work well), put them in the pressure cooker with a carrot an onion and sometimes some celery. Add water to the fill line in the pressure cooker. When you hear the “pressure up” sound, time it for one hour. Strain and use for any stock or broth need.
As for the stew, we’re rather picky about the vegetables. None of us like celery, carrots or dry beans in stew. I like barley, potatoes, onions and garlic. Sometimes I like lentils. On the other hand, barley and lentils are not on the favorites list of the others, so we compromise quite a bit.
Bread: If you are just learning to make bread, you should probably stick to a standard recipe at least as far as the basics are concerned. I’ve been making it so long I do it by eye. However, no matter the skill level there are still a few things that you might be interested in for fall bread.
I like to add chili powder, garlic and black pepper to bread. Sometimes I’ll add sun dried tomatoes and basil. Think about what you are serving with the bread and have fun. Is it for breakfast? Cinnamon and nutmeg might be good, especially if you exchange the white sugar to brown sugar. Is it for chili? Throw some cilantro and cayenne in it. The possibilities are endless.
Fall is a wonderful time to explore new recipes and spruce up old ones. It’s fun and can be a great family experience. I’m a firm believer that everyone ought to know how to cook at least basic foods and you’re never too old to begin.