I know. I’m a terrible person for saying that and everyone will curse me, but there it is.
Let me clarify. I do enjoy the beach, and grilling, and not wearing a coat. What’s more, I like not searching for mittens and hats and boots that have gone missing, and not having to bundle up two boys every single time we go out. I like cool summer night breezes, and hotdogs, and ripe strawberries. But … I love fall.
Why, you ask? Because there are a plethora of foods to cook in the fall that just don’t have the same appeal in the summer. Take stew, for example. Do you really want to stand over a hot stove to make beef stew when it’s 90 degrees and it feels like pea soup outside? Do you even want to eat it (the stew or the pea soup, for that matter)? I didn’t think so.
Try baking bread on a hot and humid day. Your kitchen will be hot from the oven, and your bread won’t rise as well because of the humidity. Sounds like a lose-lose situation to me.
If you want to be economical about your food shopping and preparation, there are so many fall/winter-appropriate foods that are well-suited to cooking in large batches and freezing in small containers. By the time fall turns to winter, I try to always have my freezer stocked with homemade pasta sauce, chicken noodle soup, the afore-mentioned beef stew, chili, and perhaps an extra pan of lasagna. If there’s room.
I also love fall because I find the weather to be so much more comfortable. I love the fact that simple exertion doesn’t cause me to break out in a sweat (sue me, call me a princess, whatever – but I just don’t like sweating!). I can wear sweaters and boots and scarves.
I love that crisp fall smell that fills the air. And the dark clouds that sometimes accompany a cold fall wind, signifying the end of the year and the ensuing winter.
Which makes me want to go inside and eat stew. I guess it all comes back to food. At least for me it does!
Here’s how I make a beef stew. The proportions are whatever you like. Can’t wait to cook it again!
Sara's Beef Stew
Dredge cubed beef chuck in seasoned flower, then brown in oil. Remove beef from pot.
Add 1 cup or so red wine to pot to deglaze.
Add minced garlic, chopped carrots, celery, and onions to oil with about 1 tablespoon of tomato paste.
Add 1 to 2 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 scant teaspoon dried.
Add beef back to pot, along with 2 to 3 cups of beef stock.
Simmer 2 hours or so (until meat is tender), then add larger chunks of carrots, celery, potatoes, and mushrooms.
Cook another 30 minutes, then add defrost frozen peas at the last minute (to just warm through, since you'll want to preserve green color).
Salt and pepper to taste.
Note: You can make a flour slurry (hot broth and flour) to add back into stew if the liquid is not thick enough.