Autumn Foods

BARLEY SOUPFor the meatballs:

1 pkg. ground turkey handful ground sirloin

1 egg

1 tbsp. dried oregano

1 cup oatmeal, ground up fine in a mini-prep processor

1 tsp. Worchestshire sauce

1 tsp. garlic powder

coarse grain salt to taste

white (or black) pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients and form into balls.

For the soup:

3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil,

divided use 3 garlic cloves,

minced 1/2 green cabbage (I used a very small homegrown cabbage)

2 stalks celery,

diced 1 tbsp.

dried oregano

2 sprigs fresh thyme,

dried is okay too

(2) 32 oz. cartons good quality beef broth

coarse grain salt to taste

black pepper to taste

1 cup cooked pearl barley (follow package instructions)

In a heavy stockpot with taller sides, add 2 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil. Add meatballs and brown them on both sides over medium-high heat. If the meatballs stick to the bottom of the pan, they need more time. When they’re done (about 3-4 minutes per side), they’ll pull away with tongs or a spatula.

Soon as meatballs are browned on both soides, remove rom pot and set aside. Add additional tbsp. of olive oil and scrape the browned pieces of meatballs from the bottom of the pan.

Add a little bit (1/3 cup or so) of broth if you need to, to shake these flavor pockets loose.

Add salt and pepper. Add garlic, cabbage, and celery. Stir around these veggies, coating them with olive oil. When the veggies are softened, about 3 minutes, add ALL broth.

Add oregano and thyme. Bring to a boil. When broth is boiling, add browned meatballs (and whatever juices have dripped from them) into pot, reduce to simmer.

Simmer for ten minutes or so. Cut open one meatball to make sure they’re done. Add barley. Soup’s done. ###

AUTUMNAL APPLESAUCE I did a little research online prior to making the applesauce. Canning and preserving and food milling is too ambitious for a mom of three soccer teams. Turns out, the potato masher and determination of an 8 year old sous chef work just as well.

5 medium sized apples, peeled and chopped

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. butter

2 tsp. sugar (we used raw cane sugar, but brown sugar is fine too, or granulated if that is all you have)

1 tbsp.cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

In a stockpot or heavy saucepan, add salt to about 6-8 cups water and bring to a boil. Add apples. Boil mellow/simmer aggressive until apples are tender, about five minutes (check by piercing with a fork). When apples are soft, drain.

Place cooked apples in bowl, or add back into pot. Mash the apples with a potato masher. Add butter, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Serve or refrigerate.

Since the first week of school, when my grade schooler made applesauce and did apple crafts, she has been tugging at me in the kitchen, or poking me in the arm at the store…”Apples, Momma, APPLES! I wanna. Make. Apple. Sauce!”Yesterday I noticed the five remaining Washington apples I bought needed to be used.

I stood in the kitchen last night, pen in hand, writing to my daughter in her “Write Me Back” book that goes back to school on Mondays, and I promised, “We’ll make applesauce soon, I promise, baby.”Autumnal Food #1, homemade applesauce with my daughter.

On the menu and planned. Fall calls for soup, this is culinary law by now. or maybe a a seasonal phenomena. Yesterday as I prepped burgers for hubby to grill, I set aside some ground sirloin to blend with a package of ground turkey I had on hand.

And after I’d made the burgers, I rolled meatballs out of the turkey/sirloin, with ground oatmeal instead of breadcrumbs, egg, dried oregano, sea salt, white pepper, garlic powder, and Worchestshire sauce. The meatballs stayed in the fridge overnight, waiting to be cooked in beef broth, pearl barley dancing around them in the soup pot.

What a delicious vision. Autumnal Food #2, barley soup with meatballs and homegrown vegetables. Half done and highly anticipated. Even though my husband is down with the flu and my kids crave hearty food, no one but me expressed a desire in the soup (my Mom, however, drove over to pick some up.

Soup is sharing food, you know). Knowing I hadn’t many takers on the soup, I took a few of the browned meatballs added them into a quick scratch tomato sauce to finish off. I tossed the sauce and meatballs with some whole what pasta and fresh shaved parmesan.

Autumnal food #3, impromptu spaghetti and meatballs, enjoyed by the kids and all set for lunch tomorrow. Leftovers manifest and linger in multiple goodness, anytime of year. My father, another flu-struck family member, loved the soup so much he called me twice to tell me.

I celebrate the solstices, equinoxes, harvests with food. Harvests are symbolic to me, ritualistic to my appetite and psyche. I like to feel everything go around again, it means we’ve all come through another year, and the recipes wait for me like an old friend at an airport terminal as I step off a plane. The barley soup is a new one for me, and I improvised a lot. It seems I am always out of carrots, onions and celery for the base I need for soups and stews.

That deficit just brings out the resourcefulness in me, however. That is how all the best dishes – impromptu and planned – are created. With what is fresh, and what is around. I’ll be darned if they are not the same thing.

Shaken and Stirring – Stovetop Barbecue Chicken




3 slices good quality smoked bacon, sliced into strips or diced fine

2 cups ketchup

1/2 cup molasses

1/3 cup yellow mustard

1/3 cup Worcestshire sauce

1/2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp. garlic powder

2 tsp. onion powder

coarse grain salt and pepper to taste

optional: hot pepper sauce to taste

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken tenders – rinsed and patted dry
non-stick spray for pan

1 tsp. canola oil

1 lb. package of wide egg noodles

2 tbsp. unsalted butter at room temperature

coarse grain salt to taste

optional: shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a preferably non-stick skillet over medium high heat, spray non-stick spray and drizzle in canola oil.

Boil water for egg noodles in a large pot. When water for noodles begins to boil, add noodles, cook to package instructions.

Add chicken tenders to skillet and sear them for about 4-5 minutes on each side.

When chicken tenders are seared on both sides, remove and set aside.

Check on the noodles.

Add the bacon to the skillet and render the fat.

When the bacon begins to brown, to scent the kitchen, and render fat, add the rest of the ingredients for the barbeque sauce to the skillet.

Cook on medium to medium low for about 10 minutes, until you get a deep, dark color.


Check the internal temperature of the chicken – you need it to be 165 degrees internally.

Add chicken tenders back to pan.

Mix chicken in with the sauce.

If the chicken needs more cooking time to get to internal temperature of 165 degrees, put in oven for 5-7 minutes, then re-check.

In the meantime, your noodles should be done. Strain, place in a serving bowl, mix with butter, a dash of coarse grain salt if desired, or shredded cheese.

Serve under the chicken and barbeque sauce.

I wish someone would have told me.Told me that when I was a mother, the joy and love that you feel can be equal to terror and fear.Now that I think about it, I was told.By my parents.”You have years and years of scares ahead of you”, a wise man recently said to me. Great. I’m down on my hands and knees enduring the scare I’m riding out now.Things can go wrong when raising kids. The things you see on the news but also random, inexplicable things that require tests and waiting and, terror in the hearts of moms and dads.Before having children, I arrogantly attempted to control every variable in my life. I still try to do that, it just drives me crazier now. So here I am.

Waiting to have a “procedure” done on one of my own, and I can hear my heart pounding through my chest most of the day, unless Spongebob is on very, very loud. But even then, I am feeling it.I feel more than I ever imagined. Just like my parents told me, when they felt it.I’ve come to find out that just like joy can life you up so high that you can reach the clouds dotting the blue sky, fear can sneak into your system and rob you of your life force. And nothing else is wrong with you other than you didn’t take your parents seriously enough when they said You’ll see what it’s like to love something so much.I text message my husband during the day I’m not hungry. I have no energy to cook. It’s is very true at the time my thumbs pound out the desperation via satellite signal.I hide under a quilt and watch foodie shows.The chefs and home cooks on the shows, the entrepenuers who reached people in their hungry spot, they’re people just like me.

People go through things. For all I know, they could be going through “things” right now, or perhaps, just survived something. Something scary. Or something joyful.And there they are on television, cooking. Surviving. This active imagination of mine, I’ve got to put it to use in good ways. Like imagining the likelihood of good outcomes.And feeding my family dinner – carrying on when I’m slightly shaken at the helm of the stove.Very soon, before I even know what I am doing, I’m rendering fat from bacon for a barbeque sauce, taking out butter so it comes to room temperature, and boiling wide egg noodles in a pot of salted water.

Talking myself down as I cook. Praying as I knead bread. Showing my family that optimism is best served straight up, piping hot, from the heart of the home.It’s not even that cooking is my comfort zone or self-medication. Putting one foot in front of the other is done differently for everyone. My feet usually end up in the kitchen.Because you can’t help but love, you should choose to have hope, you have to live like – you know – and to do these things, you need to eat.So eat well.