Friday, September 11, 2009

What Is It About Fall?

I say 'Fall', but I guess really, I mean late summer since it's not QUITE Fall yet. But I'm talking about the way the whole earth seems to start to slow down all the sudden. The sun is lazy, not quite making it up as high in the sky. The animals seem quieter, all except the crickets which seem to chirp all day, rather than just at night. The nights get crisp and cool, and it gets dark so early, and stays dark later and later every day.

I don't know why it is, but I get this crazy desire this time of year to cook and bake. Maybe it's the warmth of the oven and stove, or the good smells from the baking, or the fact that the kids are back in school and making homemade snacks and cookies for lunches and classroom activities is such a joy. But it goes beyond all that, even. I bought a chicken last night, and I can't wait to roast it tomorrow. I haven't thought of that all summer, but bring me one cool night, and I'm off to the market! I made an apple cake yesterday and filled the house with that apple-cinnamony smell. And I'm thinking, tonight might be a good time to do my first batch of overnight crock-pot oatmeal so we can wake up to hot, steaming bowls of oatmeal first thing in the morning - who needs an alarm when the odor of cinnamon and nutmeg waft into the bedroom?

I really love the change of season - we live in an area that sees a lot of change seasonally, so it stands to reason I associate different cooking ideas with different times of year - all summer long it's all about fresh produce - corn and beans and melons, tomatoes, summer squash, salads. Dinners focus on that, with whatever summery thing I can throw on the grill as the main dish - hot dogs, hamburgers, sausages, grilled chicken. But as soon as Fall gets near, I find myself a little tired out with all the shelling and peeling and paring and preparing, and just want to stick a chicken in the over, boil up some potatoes to mash, turn on the kitchen light that hasn't been on all summer, and sit down to a cozy meal. It won't last, I know myself. Usually by around March, I'm dying for some fresh stuff, bright greens and yellows and reds on my table again. And summer brings it's own kind of baking - pies and cobblers and fruit muffins, you name it. But for now, I'm ready to move into Fall. Looking forward to that first apple pie I'll make soon, and the smell of homemade bread wafting through at least once a week!

Call me crazy - but I tend to follow my natural urges. Not sure what it's all about, but as long as I'm pulling the fleeces out of the back of the closet, I'll start pulling out the baking dishes as well, and look forward to the season I love best!

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