September gently pulls us away from our beloved summer and eases us into fall. Sugar plums aren’t quite dancing in our heads yet, but let’s make the transition an easy one as we begin to think about firing up our ovens and dusting off our crock pots.
Replenish fruit bowls with apples, pears, grapes, clementines and nuts. As October approaches, look for blue moon pumpkins. Blue moon pumpkins are those blue-grey pumpkins that are so ugly they’re gorgeous, and are used for both eating and display.
We all know that perfumed candles shouldn’t be kept near meals or kitchens, so just make sure to remove any summery scented candles from the kitchen and replace them with unscented candles. The smell of pot roast cooking or those cinnamon buns baking should be the conversation starter at dinner parties or used for comforting the senses during some laid-back sofa lounging.
Did you find that you didn’t use your coffee maker much this summer because you went out for iced coffee instead? Bring out the caffeine machine for cooler weather – you’ll probably save some coffee money. Or if you were making iced coffee at home then you probably found that you needed a stronger, richer brew because of ice dilution. Brew those more delicate blends for fall.
Rework your spice rack. Move baking spices to the front so that they are reachable and inspirational. Think cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, ginger and cardamom.
Prep your oven, because it’s about to be overloaded with delicious roasts and fruit breads. By prep, we really mean give it a good scrubbing. Take down any spices, oils, kitchen tools or any other items that you have stored over or on top of the oven during its hot weather hibernation. Heat from the oven and stove warps material as well as flavor.
Check your oven temperature: Many ovens are “hot” or “cold” ovens. It is important to learn, if you haven’t already, your oven’s actual temperature. Place an oven thermometer in a 350-degree oven and let it heat for one hour. After the hour is up, check the temperature. Take note of what the actual oven temperature reads on the thermometer. Turn up the dial to 375 degrees, wait one more hour and assess again. If the temperature stays at 350, you can bet that the oven is about 25 degrees behind. Turn up the dial to 400 degrees and repeat the process to get an even more accurate estimation.
Rearrange them. Move those thermometers, whisks and measuring cups to the front of the drawers and cabinets. They’ll be used shortly. Baking and casserole dishes, muffin tins and large pots should be dusted off and cleaned. You can keep your juicer or blender on the counter, but save a seat for the crock pot and make room for the standing mixer.
Invest in a quality thermos and some new Tupperware if need be. You’ll want to bring that leftover chili to work.
Creep through your freezer. Find those ziplocked bags of stored broth and soups, then sort and itemize them. Those popsicle trays? Use them for freezing homemade boullion “pops” for large soup or stew recipes. Boil together two cups chicken or beef stock, ½ cup, one bay leaf, and three cloves of minced garlic until reduced by about half. Cool, divide into popsicle slots, and freeze.
Were you keeping a constant crudité in the fridge this summer? Replace freshly cut raw veggies with cooked veggies: think eggplant rounds with tahini, keep chill, and keep roasted tomatoes on hand for salads and flatbread toppings, or bake up some kale or sweet potato chips.