We got in off the road just before the temps dropped and gray skies moved in for a few days. It is the end of October with November knocking on the door, and Mother Nature is reminding us to get ready--bring in the harvest, chop wood, hunker down.
When the temps drop, I think of chopping, dicing, and stewing. Nothing more satisfying than a pot of soup. Something about a soup pot or a cassoulet that reminds me of pioneer women cooking in cast iron over a fire place or maybe a Native American mother feeding her family from a hide pouch where meat and vegetables cooked over an open fire for hours on the plains.
The first thing I did was make a simple chili. No fancy Cincinnati chili, no spicy Southwestern TexMex. Just meat and beans with a little chili powder and cumin. I never eat chili that I don’t think of my English Lit teacher in college. He was a properly stiff and quite stuffy man from the East. He refused to eat anywhere that used paper napkins or plastic table service. When he came to Southeastern Kansas from world travel, he was shocked to see the natives pour vinegar in their chili. He said, “Why, I never…!” He said no pone on earth dumped vinegar on their chili but Kansans. I never knew any different myself.
A friend sent me home with a Missouri soup mix put out by Missouri Agribusiness. I decided to save it for later and made a slow cooking minestrone in the crock pot instead for the next day. Very tasty stuff. DH said he could do with less “green things” floating in his soup but thought it worth repeating again. (The green things were zucchini. I need to chop them smaller so he doesn’t see!)
Yesterday it was potato soup. Not a fan of potato soup, I wanted to try to replicate the baked potato soup I had tasted in St. Charles. However, I got side-tracked when I saw the Panera Potato Soup recipe. Its secret ingredient was a block of cream cheese! I chose fat free cream cheese hoping I was making a healthier choice without sacrificing taste. Wow, what a soup! It was so very good and that recipe will be a keeper.
This afternoon I have made apple dumplings. I have substituted again…Smart Balance for butter, Splenda instead of sugar. I halved the recipe so we would not be tempted to over eat on them. DH has been watching that over for an hour. However, what he doesn’t know yet is that the casserole tonight is a New Mexico version of spinach casserole. Unfortunately, spinach is green…and he will squirm at the green chili in there too. But hey, it is colder weather and we need to warm things up a little around here!
Do you pour vinegar on your chili?