Monday, October 4, 2010

Changing Seasons…and Pantry

It was a bit chilly when I went out to do my errands today (although the hot flash that I was apparently experiencing caused me not to realize it when I first left the house). Anyway….when I walked into the produce section of the grocery store, I saw a pkg. of mango wedges. I really like mango, but when I picked them up to put in the cart I thought, “It’s not mango season. It is apple season.” So back on the shelf they went. Tomorrow I’m going to the store run by a local Amish family (yes, the Yoders) to pick up a 1/2 bushel of apples for $4.
Wow…I’m easily sidetracked…back to the grocery store…. As I walked through the produce department, I grabbed some cabbage, 15 lbs of russet potatoes, and LEEKS. All those items just scream “AUTUMN” to me. Cabbage for unrolled cabbage rolls. A huge bag of potatoes for baked potato soup and stews and chowder… me some homemade chowder. As I continued my shopping, I realized that I had been transitioning my pantry over the past few weeks. I have stocked up on boxed stocks (no pun intended), steel-cut oats, apple pie spice (throw a generous pinch in with you ground coffee when you brew it in the morning for a little something different), different flours for baking, dried beans for chili and soups, spiced teas, espresso….just to name a few items. Today I also bought biscotti. I love biscotti; but for some reason, I only buy it during autumn and winter. During the spring and summer, my cookie jar is filled with homemade cookies; but during autumn and winter the cookie jar is filled with biscotti (unless it is close to shopping day…then it’s a little more iffy).  I have recipes for biscotti. It would not be difficult to make them. I’m not sure why I’ve never tried doing so…..except maybe it would be a little too convenient…and therefore DANGEROUS to my already overly abundant waistline.
Does your pantry change with the season? What are your favorite autumn foods?

And now….a recipe:

Baked Potato Soup

First of all….I ALWAYS at least DOUBLE this recipe….It is even better the next day for a quick, filling lunch!
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 4 cups milk (I use 1%)
  • 2 cups peeled, cubed russet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup minced leeks—white part only (can also use a regular onion or shallot…your preference)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Garnish: chives, shredded cheddar cheese, REAL bacon bits (either store-bought or homemade), fresh ground black pepper
Melt butter in heavy-bottom stock pot over low heat. Add flour and stir until smooth. Cook, CONSTANTLY stirring for 1 minute. Slowly stir in milk (I use a whisk). Stir in potatoes, leeks, and salt. Cook over medium heat, STIRRING FREQUENTLY, 30 minutes or until thick and potato is done. Serve with choice of garnishes. Makes 5 cups.

***This recipe is SIMPLE, SIMPLE, SIMPLE. However, do not get distracted and forget to stir it. It burns easily, and burnt potato soup is not good. I once gave this recipe to one of my NON-cooking family members thinking that there was absolutely NO WAY that she could mess this up. Let’s just say that she REALLY needs one of those self-stirring gadgets that you’ve probably seen in some catalog or infomercial.
This is also a great recipe for potluck dinners. Just make as directed, doubling or tripling or even quadrupling the recipe. Then transfer to a crockpot and keep on the warm setting…just be sure to stir occasionally.

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