Fall is creeping in. He advances a few steps, allowing temperatures to drop and draining the moisture from the air, for just a few days. The humidity is like a 10 lb weight on your shoulders that you didn’t realize was there until it’s gone. Suddenly, in its absence, everything becomes easier. Walking, breathing, going about your day and your work with positivity thanks to the gift of crisp air and blue skies. Then, just as sneakily as he came, fall retreats, leaving us Carolinians at the mercy of the muggy vestiges of summer.
But at least it’s cool enough now that familiar fall colors and flavors are popping up. Some of the leaves are starting to turn colors (for a while, I thought every dead branch was a sign of autumn, but it was only wishful thinking… I think this is for real). I got a coupon in the mail that I fully intend to use for a pumpkin spice donut from Krispy Kreme.
Fall cooking means lots of hearty one-pot meals to keep you warm, like veggie chili and winter squash soups. In my quest to discover new dishes with super-cheap ingredients, I found this gem:
It looks a bit like slop you would feed to livestock, but it tastes absolutely amazing. This is the second time I’ve made it. The first time, I didn’t have quite the right spices on hand, so I made substitutions, and it tasted great. But this time, I stuck to the recipe (minus the almonds), and I have to say, the combination of flavors as originally intended was even better than what I improvised. So if you can, go the extra step to buy both curry and masala. You can find the latter at the kinds of grocery stores that sell spices in bulk. This is a great meal if you are tired of eating the same flavors week in and week out.
One-pots that yield a bunch of servings for the week have been a life saver. I had forgotten how exhausting it is being a student. There is this fleeting moment of relief each day at 5pm… which is shattered as you realize the only thing awaiting you at home is hours and hours of reading.* I’ve quickly learned there is no hope of finding the time or energy to put more than 20 minutes of effort into dinner.
I hope you try it. I hope you like it.
*A somber aside: … that’s hours of reading on basically every heavy topic under the sun, from how to identify signs of physical abuse in children, or how involuntary sterilization was common practice in the U.S. until about 1970, or how the stress of racism alone on pregnant mothers is enough to increase rates of infant mortality. I’ll spare you more details for now, and save the reflections on learning how to be a social worker for another post. It is demanding more mental and emotional energy than I thought possible. But I know it is and will be worth the effort.