I love the month of October. It is not confusing like the month of September, where one isn’t sure whether its summer or fall; it’s also not as dark and dreary as the month of November, a month that reminds you that the holiday rush is beginning. It’s a harvest time so really, the only holidays in October, and I use the word holiday loosely, are centered on good food, beer/wine or candy. What’s not to love?
And it is beautiful, even here in the Northwest where our deciduous trees are somewhat limited. Those we do have offer bright splashes of varying shades of yellow and red and are a visual feast. It isn’t cold or too rainy yet, just a pleasant in between climate. If you do catch the dwindling periods of sun, it’s also a great time to be out and about, either taking a hike or just enjoying some of the bounty of the area.
It is also a time when those of us who enjoy cooking feel a need to start playing again in the kitchen. Soups and stews are what begin to appeal to me and I start looking through my recipes, old and new, to see what sounds good. And because I still want to enjoy being outside, I look to recipes that can be made while I’m busy enjoying the day. Crock pots are perfect for that.
Last week I made a wonderful creamy Thai-inspired butternut squash soup that I found online at Better Home and Gardens. I adjusted the recipe a bit to add a little more spice and a little less fat but it was heavenly. I also made a cream of tomato soup that I found in my new favorite cookbook, Slow Cooker Revolution, by America’s Test Kitchen. It was good the first day, even better the second.
What’s wonderful about this book is that it not only has amazing recipes, it also has short lessons and advice on how to make slow cooking better. Some recipes are easier than others and those are marked as such. A number of recipes include some kind of meat, but there are some without or those that can be adjusted to a more vegetarian diet. The recipes, not low in fat, are really a dream to behold. I know I'll be experimenting with ways to make them using a little less fat.
Unfortunately, I am still in line at the library for my requested copy. Apparently I’m not the only one to love this book. Fortunately, I was able to convince a good friend to lend me her copy for a couple of weeks. The cassoulet she made this past weekend was from the book and while we agreed it could have used a touch more seasoning, it was warm and satisfying and still very tasty. That, along with some good bread and salad, made the perfect end to the day with our brewery touring crowd.
Now that I’ve perused her copy, I’m having trouble deciding which recipe to make next. Do I go for one of the soups, like curried cauliflower or black bean soup, both considered easy prep? Or, do I look to the stews instead, like the Moroccan chicken stew or the beef burgundy? Perhaps I should just jump to the desserts and make the Nutella bread pudding. Decisions, decisions...