Last Saturday was pretty busy. It was one of those days where we got to the end and felt like the morning was a few days ago. Like each of our activities was its own day. One of those activities was taking my daughter to a Birthday party. Unfortunately, where we live, there isn’t a good roller skating rink nearby. There is one about 35 minutes away and honestly, I cringe when we get an invitation for a party there. Especially on a busy Saturday, it’s pretty inconvenient. But the schedule allowed for the party, so we went. When you go to this roller rink from our house, it’s like driving to the edge of the world. There’s nothing near it and by the time you arrive, it feels like you’ve been in the car for days. But once I stopped focusing on the fact that we were running late and the other things we had to do that day, I took a second to look around.
We were driving through the country with farms in every direction. Trees are just starting to change. The fields look like they’ve been painted goldenrod. And when we put our windows down, there was a cool breeze blowing. I could feel my heart rate slow down as I took in the sights of autumn. This trip to the roller rink in the middle of nowhere wasn’t something I anticipated, but it ended up being exactly what I needed. By the way, it was obvious we don’t live near a roller skating rink because not one of the girls could skate. They all clung to the wall in terror and we were on high alert, just waiting for a visit to the ER. But they did make a few successful circles around the floor with no major injuries, and of course there was pizza and cake, so all was well. But the best part was the drive.
I know there are people who will fight me on this, but fall really is the best season -especially if you live in Ohio. When I take my dog for a walk on a Saturday, I can smell people firing up the grill or burning leaves. My neighbor down the street has his garage open with some football game on for others to come watch with him. We go to our 6th grade son’s football game and see all our friends because football in our town is weird and people actually care about watching 5th and 6th grade kids play it. It’s sweater weather. I have a hot drink in a mug and the earth has been painted with the most gorgeous colors because in God’s economy, even death is beautiful. Have you ever thought about that? Fall is when the plants die or go dormant and yet, they go out in a blaze of glory with colors they never have any other time of year.
Of our fall traditions, the foods we make are probably my family’s favorite part. My blog has never been a recipe blog, so instead of giving you my favorite recipes, I have links to some that are similar to what we make every year. I know this isn’t really a recipe, but I absolutely love putting out a bowl of M&M’s, peanuts, and candy corn. I’ve invited people over just to have an excuse to make this delicious party mix. Eat all three together and it tastes like a Snicker’s Bar. So yummy!
A fall favorite I always had grown up was a crockpot of ham, fresh green beans, and potatoes. I make it at least once every fall and the key is using a ham hock for flavor. It seems gross at first, but you’ll get over it once you try it. When I was a kid, the green beans came out of our garden. I buy them, but don't use frozen or canned beans for this because they won't hold up in the crockpot. The key is to have them be soft but not mushy. I've already made this recipe once this year, but just writing about it makes me want to make it again. It's so delicious. [Click here for a recipe]
Another thing I make every fall is pumpkin soup. It’s a perfect weeknight dinner because it doesn’t take long to throw together and it’s delicious with some crusty bread and your favorite cheese. (I usually serve it with a sharp havarti.) You can keep the onions as is or use an immersion blender to smooth it out. I prefer it to be all the way blended. Make a big batch, because it’ll stay in the fridge for a couple days of leftovers.
I make a lot of pies at Thanksgiving, but you don’t have to wait until the end of November to make pie. It’s good just about anytime. I always make pumpkin pie, but my favorite is actually pumpkin praline. It’s like getting a pecan pie and a pumpkin pie in one. Also, it’s easy to make a pumpkin praline along with regular pumpkin. Just leave room on top of one pie and add the praline topping about half way through the baking time.
Another pie I love to make is this one I stumbled upon in a Gooseberry Patch Cookbook. It’s a pie that has apples, pineapple, cranberries, and walnuts. So good! I first made this Harvest Fruit and Nut pie in the middle of the summer, so I didn’t have fresh cranberries. Where it called for a cup of fresh cranberries, I literally used a cup of jellied cranberry sauce and it was so delicious, I’ve never made it the right way since. If you make this pie, I do recommend using jellied cranberry, but you should also use less sugar (since the jellied cranberry has sugar added.) This substitution not only tastes great, but it gives the pie a pretty, dark red color.
If you’ve been apple picking and have a bunch of apples you need to use before they go bad, I recommend this crockpot apple butter recipe. I definitely heap my measuring spoons when adding spices on this because I like a lot of spice in my apple butter. You can make this overnight or during the day and it’ll make your house smell amazing. Since I don’t really know how to can, I freeze the extra apple butter in quart freezer bags. When we’re running low in the refrigerator, I pull a bag out to thaw it. Of course you can make apple butter any time during the year, but it’s best in the fall when the apples are the most flavorful.
I know there’s more to fall than just food, but I wanted to take some time to share our favorites with you. If you have a favorite fall recipe, I’d love to know about it. Share it in comments if you’d like.
I hope you and your family are having a nice fall -making memories together and soaking up all this season has to offer. Forget the bucket lists (they tend to add anxiety). Just get out there and enjoy the beauty of the season with those you love most.