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Eleven days.

That’s how long we have until the official first day of fall.

In some ways, it’s already here. At least two local fall festivals were presented over the weekend (one at Our Lady of the Abingtons and the other at the Fleetville Volunteer Fire Company). Abington Heights students went back to school last week, and the high school football season began even before that. We’ve been sipping pumpkin lattes and snacking on apple cider doughnuts for a few weeks now. Thanksgiving and Halloween decorations started springing up in area retail stores at least a month ago.

But in other ways, it’s still summer. Fleece jackets and fashion boots are buried in our closets behind sundresses and sandals. The grass and leaves are still lush green. Local ice cream shops such as Dairy Queen and Manning Farm Dairy are busy with customers looking to savor that last taste of summer.

The sense of taste is a big part of what carries us from one season to another. I can think of several foods that signify the arrival of specific seasons.

For example, whenever Mom prepares Dad’s grandmom’s beef pie, it invokes, for me, memories of raking leaves in my backyard and jumping in the piles with the neighbor kids.

And most people would agree, the smell of gingerbread baking is a distinctly winter scent, associated especially with Christmas.

Spring is a time for salads and greens, and summer is filled with the aroma of hot dogs, hamburgers and barbecue foods.

In celebration of the upcoming season, here are two of my favorite family recipes that always help me in finding fall.

Grandmom’s beef pie (handed down by Aunt Lettie Kell)

1 lb. stewing beef, cut into small pieces

4 raw carrots, sliced 1/2” thick

1 package frozen peas

biscuit dough

4 c. water

1/2 to 3/4 stick butter

3 medium or 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced

Place the water, beef, carrots and potatoes in a large pot and cook until well done. Add peas, then cook for five more minutes (about 40 minutes total). Pour into deep dish.

Biscuit dough:

(You can also substitute a biscuit mix from the grocery store, such as Bisquick or a gluten-free option for those with special dietary needs. Follow instructions on packaging.)

2 c. flour

3/4 tsp. salt

3/4 c. milk

3 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/3 c. shortening

1/4 tsp. sugar

Mix flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Cut in shortening until it resembles coarse meal. Add milk and mix together. Knead slightly. Roll about 1/2” to 3/4” thick. Cut with a butter knife.

Cut butter into pieces and place on top of stew (this part is the recipe’s “secret”) then place rolled dough on top.

Bake at 450 degrees until top is golden brown (about 15 minutes).

Muffins that

taste like doughnuts

(You’ll understand where the name originates when you try them for the first time.)

Bowl one:

1 3/4 c. flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Bowl two:

1/3 c. oil

3/4 c. white sugar

1 egg

3/4 c. milk

Coating:

1/2 c. melted butter

3/4 c. white sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

In the first bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. In the second bowl, combine oil, sugar, egg and milk. Add liquid ingredients to dry and stir only to combine.

Pour into muffin tins and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Take muffins out immediately and while hot, first dip the tops in melted butter, then roll in the dry mixture of cinnamon and sugar.

As autumn arrives, the temperatures start to drop and the leaves begin to turn, I hope you enjoy these flavors of fall. Do you have your own tastes of the season you’d like to share? Email your favorite fall recipes to me at ebaumeister@timesshamrock.com or mail them to the Abington Suburban, 149 Penn Ave., Scranton, PA 18503.

Happy tasting.

Contact the writer:

ebaumeister@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9185, ext. 3492