Autumn is here, and SW Ohio already feels like sweaters and cords weather. Put away the shorts and sandals; it’s time for bonfires and homecoming parades!
What does that mean foodie-wise? I’ll be cooking outside still, along with friends in the Outdoor Cooking Guild, but things I’ll be cooking begin to change this time of the year. Part of that is due to seasonal changes, part of it is due to cooler weather. This time of year makes me want more coffee, soups, chili, stews, that sort of thing. I actually prefer cool weather cooking to hot weather.
I really don’t know what it is about fall that gets to me. Growing up, I loved summer. I lived in the water as a kid, and I could out-swim high school seniors when I was in grade school still. I was a lifeguard as a teenager, and I loved the sun (I’ve never really had a sunburn… I tan really easily). I liked not being in school for 3 months, too.
But fall always held so much more for me. I actually liked school, and going back to school was fun. I was pretty social at school, and I loved doing stuff like building the homecoming float out at Amy Cunningham’s house, drinking hot cider to keep warm in the barn. Fall meant football games and marching band (I was in the band and loved it).
Sitting here even thinking about fall and growing up gives me a bittersweet feel, the feel of sharp memories that are just beyond reach, the feel of hoping there are still places where kids get together to build homecoming floats on cool evenings. Homecoming isn’t even the same time anymore; it used to be mid to late October, but it’s now the very beginning of October. This is about the only time of the year when I’m sorry that my wife and I aren’t going to have kids.
So what does all this have to do with food? I’ve said it before in various ways, but I really think our thoughts on food can be wrapped in memories and feelings than the food itself. Fall is about comfort foods; the cooler weather makes us want things that warm us up both in the type of food and the type of memories we have around the food. Think about it… A great steak off the grill is great, but a steak doesn’t speak to me the way a bowl of homemade stew or Grandma’s chicken and noodles does. And even though my grandma has been gone for 10 years now, I can’t eat egg noodles without comparing them (unfavorably) to my grandma’s noodles. She’s also the one from which I get my love of homemade apple pie.
Over the next 2 weeks, members of the Outdoor Cooking Guild are going to be cooking apple dishes outdoors; I’m looking forward to some things I haven’t made before with apples, and I’m sure it will spur a couple trips to the orchard for me. For me, I am thinking of doing an apple pie again, but using lard for the crust for the first time. If you have any ideas for dishes that feature apples, let me know; I’ll do my best to make them outside on one of my cookers to see how it turns out. I’d also love to hear what kinds of things fall brings back to mind for any of you reading. It’s such a great time of the year, I think.