Saturday, September 6, 2014

Seasons in the Still Room



I love the changing of the seasons, and I have to admit that Autumn (or Fall, whichever you call it) is my favorite time of year. I love the apples and pumpkins, the colorful leaves, acorns, dried Indian corn, chrysanthemums and other assorted autumnal things.  Fall is also the best ever time for gardening in my part of the world, and after the heat of summer, I relish cool mornings and warm afternoons spent in the garden.  Many herbs thrive in our mostly mild winters and fall is the time to plant perennials and seeds for early spring bloomers such as poppies, dill, cilantro, and borage.  
Inside, I take an inventory of the Still Room Pantry about this time of year.  Now is the time to restock and create a stock of herbal helpers for the coming cold/flu season.  I'll post more on stocking the Still Room later.  I also begin a list of herbal gifts I want to make for the holiday season.  Again, a post or two on Herbal Holidays is in the works for you in the days to come.
I also do more baking in the cool, crisp days of autumn. Muffins, coffee cakes, cobblers, and herb-laden biscuits and breads to accompany soups and stews are what I bake most often.  I'm working on a Still Room Recipe Book, which I plan to have ready in time for the holidays.  The following recipe is one way I like to welcome Autumn into our house:

Autumn Apple Crisp

Preheat oven to 375.
Lightly grease a 2 quart baking dish.

Apple mixture:
2 1/2 pounds apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

1 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of cardamom
pinch of nutmeg 

1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. sugar

Toss apples with lemon juice, sugar and spices to coat.
Place in baking dish.

Topping:
6 tbsp. butter cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3/4 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats (or 1/4 cup oats, 1/4 cup chopped nuts)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cardamom

Use pastry cutter or your fingers to mix butter into other ingredients until you have a coarse, crumbly mixture. Sprinkle over the apples.
Bake until bubbly and brown, about 1 hour.
Serve plain or topped with ice cream, whipped cream or yogurt.

What are your favorite things about Autumn?
What herbs do you use most this time of year?

Herbal Blessings,
Catherine

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