It’s probably fair to say we didn’t have much of a summer this year – a few heatwaves tied together with relatively mild weather is about the best of it. As the last strains of the proper sunshine retreat behind the clouds, the year is turning towards the chillier, darker season of autumn – which very much has its attractions if you’re a fan of atmospheric weather and early nights.
Many people actually consider autumn to be the most enjoyable season of the year, as it is the perfect time to get your hygge on: warm lighting around the house; plenty of throw blankets; and perhaps most enjoyable of all, the foods and drinks that really come into their own as the days get shorter and the mercury gets lower.
Moreish hot meals and warming drinks can make any autumn day feel that bit more special. Let’s look at some of the most enjoyable foods and drinks for the season ahead…
It’s Stew Season!
Autumn is the ideal time for good, nourishing food that feels like it “sticks to your ribs”, to coin a phrase. It’s a season that really suits tasty stews in particular, from a classic Irish stew made with lamb, potatoes, carrots and onions. Seasoned liberally with black pepper and served with crusty bread, it’s one of those quintessentially autumnal meals that gets the mouth watering just from thinking about it.
Whether it’s Irish stew or any other type, this is the perfect time of year to cook dinner in the slow cooker. Once the ingredients are chopped up and added to the container, the cooker can be switched on and left bubbling away on low heat for most of the day.
That’s always a risky strategy on a warm summer’s day, but the warmth that percolates through the house (to accompany the appetising smell) from a stew pot is one of autumn’s finest experiences.
Indulgent Autumn Drinks
From the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep, Autumn can be associated with a slightly hazy feeling – which can be nice at times, but isn’t the best if you want to get some work done.
As we’re in the vicinity of Hallowe’en there’s plenty of excuse to crack open the pumpkin spice and get some seasonally-appropriate alertness; the mix of scents that flows through the kitchen will be magical, as the coffee aroma from bean to cup machines melds with the sweetly spicy pumpkin smell. And if coffee isn’t your bag, there are other options too…
If you want something with a bit of a kick – but can’t abide caffeine – then a Mexican hot chocolate might be exactly what you want. Made with real chocolate and scented with cinnamon, the finishing touch is a pinch of chili or cayenne pepper.
Sounds a little peculiar, perhaps, but it tastes wonderful and will knock out some of the cobwebs (at least until you need them for Hallowe’en decorations, anyway).
As the day winds towards an end, you might want to try something that has the opposite effect to those jolts of energy, and the ideal option is a cup of warm milk. You may have been offered this as a kid, and the good news is it works as an adult, too.
Heat the milk in a pan and, just before serving, stir in a dash of honey for taste and a little pinch* of nutmeg. This is best served in bed, because it works so well as a sleep aid that you might otherwise just conk out in front of the TV.
*(Make sure it is just a pinch too – any more than a quarter of a teaspoon can make you feel ill rather than just sleepy).
Autumn is the perfect time for all those little indulgences, particularly if the shorter days tend to make you feel a little wistful. If you enjoy a whiskey, the closing months of the year are the ideal time for a peaty blend like a Laphroaig or Glenmorangie.
It’s also the right time of year to give home-made Indian food a go – why not celebrate Diwali this year with a sumptuous biryani on the 4th of November?
Got Something to Add?
There’s a lot to love about Autumn, and food is very much a part of that. The tastes and smells of warming meals make for a fantastic sensory experience. Some of the delicious options above will add to the magic of a very much underrated season, so why not give them a go?
Share your autumn warming recipes with us in the comments section below.
Until next time, thanks for reading.
Helen, Nial and Lewis