I’ve always loved autumn. In fact I’ve often said that October is my favourite month of the year. The trees look so pretty and there’s a special smell in the air that heralds warm winter coats, boots and thick black tights. And as the weather starts to get colder my mind turns towards what I suppose would be described as ‘warming winter food’. I like salads but they somehow just don’t cut the mustard as the nights draw in.
My winter menus will no doubt include an increase in soups and more casseroles-type dishes. I often prepare for a couple of days at a time and where possible I make extra portions so that I can freeze them for later use. We have a large freezer but even so, when I’ve been engaged in a cooking marathon, I can run out of space.
Favourite soups include Spicy parsnip, Tomato & red pepper and Leek & Potato (I prefer this one left quite chunky). We also like ‘Susan Soup’, a Mediterranean tomato & bean soup which we named after the cousin who served it to my daughter and I back in 1993. The reason I can be certain of the date is because she told me she’d found the recipe in the current issue of Good Housekeeping magazine and I went and bought a copy. The recipe was duly cut out and has been in my recipe folder ever since. Two recent additions to my soup repertoire are my friend Margaret’s French Onion (a meal on its own when served traditionally with French bread and gruyere) and her Pea and Mint creation.
I borrowed a soup maker from my daughter to see whether I might like on but having tried it once I decided it wasn’t for me. However, Slimming World Magazine has on offer a different type (the kind I had thought I’d like before trying daughter’s) and I’ve ordered one, hoping that this fulfils my requirements. The soup maker cooks the vegetables and then blends them into soup with a choice of smooth or chunky. The advantage I see here is that once the timer is set, it needs no further attention which leaves me free to be doing something else. This appeals to my increasingly busy lifestyle. I often wonder how I ever managed to work full time? I’ll report back on the soup maker in due course. I’m not a great one for gadgets so hope that I haven’t wasted my money.
A lot of people like to use slow cookers but not me. I have one and it’s very useful for keeping things warm. It’s ideal for large quantities of gravy or custard when I have a large family lunch but for casseroles and the like, I’m not at all keen. After everything has been marinating together for several hours, I’d defy anyone to identify whether they were eating a chunk of potato, celeriac, parsnip, swede or a Jerusalem artichoke- it all tastes the same, so totally does the gravy or sauce permeate each piece! As for the meat, who can tell what it is? Casseroles in my house are cooked in the oven.