Thursday, September 22, 2016

On This, the First Day of Autumn

Happy Equinox!

Aahhhhhh, the autumn equinox when the calendar officially tells us that it's Fall and we are therefore granted permission to drink as much hot chocolate as we want and add spoonfuls of cinnamon to everything with wild abandon. I know, some people live for this time of year. Leggings, chunky knit scrarves, boots, a pumpkin spice latte always in hand. Crunch, crunch, crunch. Mmmm, Fall.

I like Fall, too. I don't adore it the way I used to, thanks to a few pretty miserable winters, but I can still appreciate it. I haven't had any official “tests” done to confirm this, but I've got this suspicion that I'm actually genetically part lizard, because I just love the summer heat. LOVE IT. I bask in it. I love the heat and everything else about summer except for mosquitos. But Fall is good, too. I guess.

Tonight to celebrate the Equinox, despite the temperatures here being in the 90s, I made potato soup and baked spiced apples. Sounds pretty fally, doesn't it!? And since I don't use real recipes, I thought I'd share my “recipe” in quotations, for both. 

First up:

Five Pound Potato Soup

Five pound bag of potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks.
An onion. If you don't have an onion, a handful of green onions will do. If you don't have those, use chives.
As much garlic as you love.
Carrots, maybe four? Peeled and chopped, or peeled and shredded.
Broth to fill the pot
Milk to finish
Chili Powder (optional)

Sautee the garlic, onion of choice, parsley, sage, salt in butter. After it smells good, add your chopped potatoes and carrots, stir up. Cover the ingredients with enough broth or stock or water with boullion, that you expect some will boil down by the time the potatoes are soft. Your end goal should be a thick, goopy mixture when you take it off the heat.

When you've got that, (this takes occasional stirring and mushing of the potatoes so you can tell when they're really done,) you set it aside to cool for a few minutes before adding the milk. Then you add the milk, really just enough to make it more liquidy and creamy.

Note: I like my potato soup to also have broccoli and plain yogurt in it. However, MY KIDS HATE IT THAT WAY, so I make it more plain, like above. But you can add plain yogurt to thicken it (not too much or it's too tangy and tastes like you already ate it once, if you know what I mean) and you can clearly put in some broccoli to make it more healthy and, let's be honest, more delicious. I freaking love broccoli.

There you go! You can add shredded cheese too! I try to make cheesy biscuits or cheese bread when we have this soup because my kids (seriously! These troublesome youngsters!) don't like cheese in their soup. Whatevs.

Now here was the real star of the show tonight:

Equinox Apples

An apple per person, peeled and cored. Don't be afraid if you don't have an apple peeler-corer-slicer; I just use a knife. Make sure you leave a little bottom so the insides don't seep out. Place the apples in a bakeable dish; I use a cast iron skillet.

Stuff each apple with about a tablespoon of butter.

Make the mixture:

Brown Sugar
White Sugar
Vanilla extract

My exact measurements of the brown sugar were “what's left I in the bag,” which I dumped into the bowl, and added the other ingredients proportionally to that. It was VERY spicy to just eat plain, but once it was baked with the butter, it was the perfect amount of spice. The white sugar could probably be omitted; I used it because I'd put in too much vanilla at the end and needed it a touch sweeter, but since my initial measurement was what it was, I obviously was out of brown sugar. Sprinklings of the rest... maybe half a teaspoon of the spices?

Mix the mixture well until it's made evenly crumbly by the vanilla, then spoon about two spoonfuls into each apple's center, over the butter. Two spoonfuls was about right. I have made them in the past when I've thought “more is better” and it's turned out gross. You don't want to spice-out the apple flavor!

Bake at 350* for about half an hour. You can test the apples as they bake by sticking them with a fork to see that they are “tender crisp” or whatever the term is for “perfect baked apple” or “perfect steamed vegetable.” You don't want them soggy, but you don't want to have to use a knife.

These were really spectacular for our little fall celebration tonight. Thursdays are ballet night for Anja, and everyone goes together to walk over to the ballet school to pick her up while I finish up dinner at home. When they got home they were greeted with a pretty yummy smell! And an even yummier meal. I call tonight an autumnal success, despite the actual outside temperature!  

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