This past week brought our first killing frost. People in this area covered plants for several nights not knowing when that killing frost would hit. Luckily my mums that are loaded with blossoms at this point survived.
Saturday dawned perfect for the farm tour. In spite of the cold weather people layered up their clothing and made their way from farm to farm. I started to count. It was slow at the beginning. I soon gave up on that as the cars of people rolled in. The visitors at my station were too numerous to keep track of. We guesstimated that there were between 150 and200 people who took the hayride around the farm.
I guess at this point I should say that autumn is a good time for a hayride. Our family often did hayrides. Sometimes we used a tractor, but other times we used a team of horses. The young man who recently became a teenager went on his first hay ride when he was close to a month old. We positioned him in his little seat on the bed of the wagon, and he was warm and cozy. The youngest passenger this year was about six weeks old. She survived just fine.
This is the season when my knitting needles come back out. Right now I am knitting to have items to take to craft shows. People love the hand-knit items. I also knit to include things in the Samaritan's Purse Christmas boxes. When you go into a store and have many small items the same the clerk often asks about what you are doing. When you mention Samaritan's Purse most of them recognize that well-known charitable project.
The cold weather also offers the opportunity for different types of food. Kitchens are warmed while roasts cook in crock pots and ovens. The thing I like best about cooking a roast is that I am able to keep it ready to serve for an extended period of time. I also can cook some vegetables along with it so I am completely ready to serve the meal. My son and daughter-in-law note that roasts are among the last items to sell at the store. I fear that many people just do not know what to do with them.
In spite the cost per roast, they are some of the most economical cuts you can buy. A roast will serve many people. It will also create several meals for the inventive cook.
One thing I love about fall is that soup is once again a popular entree. My daughter did not care a whole lot for soup when she was young, but she has changed her tune. When you make soup you do not make a small batch. You make as large a batch as possible because it freezes very well. Soup in the freezer is a cushion when you get unexpected company just in time for a meal. You put it frozen in a large pan, and it thaws quite quickly.
My one grandson absolutely loves soup. A couple weeks ago when his folks were away I made a large batch of chicken noodle soup and took it down to eat lunch with him. He ate three bowls right away. I assured him that I was not taking the leftovers home. I am not sure how much his folks got of the soup.
Last week as he spent his birthday with me I made a batch of vegetable soup. Once again I gifted the leftovers. For lack of a gift other than money I prepared a special bag with all of the things that I know he likes to eat. As he opened each item he beamed knowing it was just for him. He did tell me that he might share a couple things with his dad.
I love to cook and have a whole arsenal of dishes that I am looking to be able to prepare and serve. This is the time for comfort food. Comfort food does not necessarily mean that they are all fattening dishes. I have learned to work with natural ingredients to lighten them up to be more healthy, yet flavorful. The reason I like to make homemade soup is that I think it tastes better than that that comes out of a can. There is less sodium, too. I season my soup well, but herbs make up for the lower sodium.
All-in-all processed food spells food that is not very healthy. If you look at the ingredients you will be surprised about what is in there. If you start from scratch you control all of that. Even making your own pasta sauce makes a difference. I have a couple favorite recipes that I go to. One of them goes together quickly, while the other one is a whole day process. They are different, but they are both good.
In the years when my husband was around he always inspected my grocery purchases. His biggest comment used to be, "What did you buy that is good to eat right now?" Most of the time my answer was, "nothing." Almost everything that I brought home had to be prepared before we could enjoy it. I have always been a "from scratch" cook.
Now people think of me as a good cook, but that was not always the case. I went through all of the trials and errors that young women go through. I took all of the criticism that was handed out and turned it around. I learned by doing. My advice to young cooks is to just keep right on trying. At some point you will get it right. The more you cook the better you get at it.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa.