Somewhere between summer and winter

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Every tree and shrub here in the panhandle of Florida is as green as Kermit. Are the leaves beginning to turn where you live?

Having lived most of my life in the mountains of north Alabama, I get homesick when September rolls out the red carpet for autumn. Here fall isn’t announced by changing leaves but by a change in the air.

Take a deep breath. You know what autumn smells like. You know what I’m talkin’ ‘bout. There’s briskness in every breeze with just a hint of colder weather sure to come.

As the season changes, so do our cravings for food. No more summer barbecues until next Memorial Day (thank goodness). It’s time for chili and soup and stew. My family has always been huge lovers of anything with a rich broth that provides sopping juice.

I only cook for my husband and myself these days, but I often prepare a big meal at the beginning of the week, and we graze on it until we’re ready for something new. Usually by day three any leftovers become remakes. Leftover roast and veggies become beef stew. Leftover soups may end up in the blender to become a coulis for the next meat dish later in the week. 

What is your favorite meal this time of year? Leave a comment; I’d really like to know what you’re cooking. Well, I don’t have to give a second thought to my favorite fall supper or Sunday dinner.  Here it is:

meal-2

Did I hear you say yum, yum? What is better than the aroma of chuck roast slowly simmering for hours in red wine, onion soup mix, garlic, Worcestershire, black pepper, and a sprig or two of rosemary?

(A word about cooking with wine: When added to liquids, it evaporates at 3 times the rate of water. Simmering reduces the alcohol content. After fifteen minutes 60% of the alcohol is gone. Simmer for an hour and only 25% remains; after cooking for two and a half hours all but 5% of the alcohol has disappeared. Many cold remedies or OTC meds contain 10% alcohol.

When the booze is gone, a robust flavor lingers. I’m a teetotaler, and I cook with wine regularly.)

The thing that I like most about this meal is that the veggies are thrown in all at once for the last hour and a half of cooking time.  So easy!

veg-in-pan

And then for the piece de resistance: The Gravy

cooking-gravy

steaming up my camera!

I’ve been known every now and then to add an envelope of brown gravy mix (I use WalMart’s low-sodium brown gravy mix) to the meat drippings. I mix the powdered spices with water and stir it into the meat juices to thicken and add flavor. Right at the very end, I add a tablespoon or so of real butter for added richness. Then finish it up by cooking it down until it reduces by a little more than half.

TIP: Always scrape down the sides of the pot two or three times during the cooking process. Mother used to call this part that builds up around the pot the “goodie.”

As you know, this is really just deglazing. Same as you’d add a little liquid and scrape the bottom of the pan before making gravy. If you leave the “goodie” on the pot, you will lose a lot of flavor.

gravy-boat

Oh happy day!! That rich gravy is the making of this meal.

 Happy autumn!! scarecrow-edit

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6 thoughts on “Somewhere between summer and winter

  1. Kimmie Carroll

    Every year, I can’t wait ’til fall for homemade chili!! I make it with beans, cubed beef, tomatoes and… a heaping spoon of creamy peanut butter! (Think mole sauce!) It’s yummy!

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    • I’m going to try the peanut butter idea. Sometimes, if I have chocolate, I’ll put a couple of squares in chili. Wonder if I should leave the chocolate out if I’m putting peanut butter in.Good tip. Thanks!

      Like

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