I don't know about everyone else, but Autumn sets me into gear. I love the Summer as much as the next girl but I think I'll always associate it with not giving any shits and just laying in the sun practically naked with something cold in hand. It turns out it's a little difficult to be productive when you're horizontal and a little tipsy, who would have thought?
I get giddy when the temperature drops a bit and I get to throw on a beanie, but mostly Autumn makes me want to start spending more late mornings and early evenings in the kitchen. While I swap my carefree mindset in for the slightly more productive version of myself, there's the transitional period where my fridge is looking a little sad and lonely. You've got the fridge blues. You're rummaging through your fridge and none of your ingredients seem to mesh well together, it usually seems easy to give up and order a pizza. Aside from skimming through The Flavor Bible and getting creative with dishes, you may just be able to make something so simple its perfect with just one main ingredient until you head to the store.
Here's an Autumn inspired, semi angsty playlist to jump around to while you're exploring your cabinets;
1. shaved cucumbers with tamari
I had a marinated cucumber salad at a restaurant in town a while back when I was out with friends and my stomach was a little off. I saw the small salad on the menu and thought, oh that's a super simple side I'll just have a couple bites of that. Turns out it was pure magic and became my favorite thing on the menu. Thinly sliced cumber chilled with some ginger, garlic and tamari is somehow not simple at all. Add some crushed chilis if you have them lying around!
2. radishes; roasted with thyme and butter.
I simply love radishes. Whether they're tossed in a salad, pickled, or on a sandwich, I can't get enough, so it's no surprise that I enjoy them just as much by their lonesome. When roasted, they soften while still hanging onto that crunch and topped with fresh sea salt and cultured butter will leave you drooling.
3. eggs; medium boiled with salt and pepper.
Without eggs I would be so lost. I can't even think about it, it's that terrifying. There are a million ways to snack on eggs, but there's nothing like a perfectly boiled egg with some salt and pepper. A lot of people will give you handfuls of little secrets to "the perfect egg", but I eat my weight in eggs and I say: boil water, bring down to a simmer, gently lower the egg, take it out in 8 minutes, and add to an ice bath. I'm all about the 6 and 7 minute egg as well- but more with toast or in ramen, I prefer a little more done when I eat them solo.
4. cheese; baked to a crisp with chives
The poor man's cheez-it. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, grate a harder cheese (parmesan, grana padano, pecorino romano, gouda, or cheddar) place in small piles about an inch apart from each other and cook for 6-8 minutes at 350º F. They're going to harden and cook more once you take them off so it's better to take them out sooner rather than later. I like to toss on some salt, pepper, and fresh chives if I have them, but any seasoning tastes good with cheese and that's the goddamn truth.
5. cauliflower; baked with turmeric
I want to sincerely apologize to cauliflower for underestimating it for all these years. This year I've discovered cauliflower rice, mashed cauliflower, and best yet, roasted cauliflower. I toss together some oil, turmeric, cumin, salt and pepper and brush it on cauliflower florets. Throw them on a baking sheet and bake at 450°F for about 25-30 minutes.
6. toasted chickpeas
I go through maybe 4 cans of chickpeas a week. Whenever I'm lacking a bit of protein I'll toss some in, whether it be a curry, soup or salad, they're a great filler. Also, hummus of course. Now they're my new favorite snack, too! I drain them really well and put them in my cast iron with a little bit of oil and whatever seasoning I'm feelin' that day. I usually go the spicy route with some paprika and cayenne pepper.
This is a given, yes, but don't forget how many different flavor paths you can take with popcorn! Leanne Brown's cookbook, Good and Cheap, reminded me of all the options and I stand by each one. A couple of my favorite are chili powder and lime, scallion and cilantro, and this sweet treat you'd never think of...brown sugar and orange zest. You should seriously check out her cookbook, she teaches you that you can eat well on $4 a day. Oh, also, I'm not judging you if you've never made popcorn from scratch. I remember the first time my friend and I made popcorn and we didn't know we had to put a lid on the scorching hot pot of oil (super smart) so it resulted in a terrifying experience where we curled up in the corner and screeched for my dad to help us.
8. pickle sandwiches
Okay, don't scoff at me. You like pickles, and you like sandwiches, right? Why can't they be friends!? Usually pickles are the last thing you throw on a sandwich, but today it will be the first. If you have a slice of cheese, put it on, but if not then just some mayonnaise will do the trick. slice your sandwich into fours for bite size eats.
9. cheesy kale chips
We all know about kale chips. There's this rotten stigma around kale and I can see why. Some people just don't like it and I can accept that because I'll admit I hate quinoa, and yes I've had it a dozen ways but something about the seed like texture rubs me the wrong way. BUT- I promise to keep trying quinoa if kale haters try these cheesy kale chips. I'm getting the shit end of the deal here though because the word 'cheese' and 'chip' is in this snack. Anyway- tear the stems off of your kale (tear into little pieces if they're huge leaves) and toss in a bowl with some oil. Massage the kale with love, this is crucial! Spread the kale on a baking sheet and bake for 5-7 minutes at 350º F. While they're crispin' up mix together some parmesan, garlic powder, paprika, nutritional yeast, salt & pepper. Then toss the kale with everything!
10. apple chips
People look at me like I'm a cannibal when I say I don't really like apples. They're fine but they bore me. Put em' in a crisp, or a pie, or in a salad with a creamy dressing and I'm all over it, but when I see someone taking down an apple on the bus or while walking (no one ever sits down to eat an apple) it just looks like such a sad snack and genuinely bums me out. So, a solution is apple chips! Here's a secret: everything can be a chip! Just slice apples super thin, spread on a baking sheet, sprinkle some sugar and cinnamon on top and bake for about 45 minutes at 225º F.
11. marinated mushrooms
I'm an antipasto queen. I could easily eat a platter of marinated and pickled veggies, olives, cheese and cured meats for every meal. I can barely walk by the antipasto bar at Whole Foods, it just pulls me in. When I was younger I used to think they were all free samples...those were the days. You can't dangle all of these snacks in front of my with empty containers and a small sign that reads 7.99/lb because that means nothing to me. I end up going to the express lane and spending more than I would have on an entire weeks groceries. After my last excursion of $25 snacks that I ate all in one sitting I told myself I would make my own marinated veggies like a big girl. Well, it took me about 6 minutes to make these marinated mushrooms and they were the best I've ever had. While I steamed about a pound of cremini mushrooms, I mixed together olive oil, about a tablespoon of white wine vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, fresh parsley, oregano, crushed red pepper, salt & pepper. Drain and rinse the mushrooms and toss in a bowl with all your goodies! The longer you marinate the mushrooms the better they are, of course, but if you're impatient they'll taste good right away. Also, don't worry if you don't have fresh herbs, I promise whatever is on your spice rack will taste good.