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.