It’s coming. It’s subtle — some might say sneaky — but it’s right around the corner. How do I know?
Oh, there are lots of little signs.
In the morning when I open the door to take in the paper, for example, it’s dark. There’s a certain coolness to the early morning air. Not a “snap” just yet (remember, I said it’s sneaky), but you know it’s just a few weeks away.
It’s catalog season. They’re arriving daily. The ones that show thin women with broad, toothy smiles, dressed in clothes with long sleeves. Better buy now so you’ll be ready when it gets here.
In stores, décor includes pumpkins, changing leaves (heavy on the orange) and seasonal Welcome mats. Quilts abound. Candles, baskets and flower arrangements are staged to tell us, “Come inside be cozy and warm.” Somehow, that’s a compelling message as August wanes and it’s still in the high 80s outside. Be careful what you wish for.
The kids are back to their months-long common pursuit (school) with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Fans of sports that start out under a blistering sun will soon need down jackets, blankets and a thermos of hot chocolate up in the stands.
By now, you know exactly what I’m talking about. “It,” or beautiful, exhilarating autumn is almost here. Chicken salad’s getting old, the lingering scents of something baking in the house smell good again, and maybe you’re starting to think about how good pot roast smells and tastes when the sun goes down earlier, kids are back in school and there’s a real chill in the night air.
So many parents work away from home, there’s nobody there during the day in many homes to cook dinner, but it’s always nice to have a meal to come back to in the evening when everyone comes home after school, work, and various practices. If you put it on to cook low and slow, it’ll seem like someone’s been in the kitchen all day when you walk in.
Epicurious is one of my favorite online sites for recipe ideas. Try their easy recipe for something quick and simple that practically cooks itself. Don’t forget to make enough to freeze.
SWEET AND SAVORY SHORT RIBS
3 pounds English-style bone-in beef short ribs
Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup prune juice (yes, that’s right)
1 cup teriyaki sauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season ribs with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large ovenproof pot on the stove top over medium high heat.
Working in batches if necessary, sear ribs until browned on all sides, 8-10 minutes. Transfer ribs to a plate.
Drain fat from pot. Add prune juice, teriyaki sauce, and 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a simmer and return ribs to pot. Cover pot, transfer to preheated oven, and braise until beef is very tender and falling off the bone, 2-3 hours.
Transfer ribs to a platter. Bring liquid in pot to a boil on stove top. Cook, uncovered, until liquid is reduced to a glaze (about 12-15 minutes). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour over ribs.
Serves six civilized diners, four if very hungry.
Oven temperature can be lowered to 225 if you want to let ribs cook all day. Use a pot with a tight fitting lid.
Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.