Most people do experience some kind of winter blues, or the winter doldrums as we call them, well, in the winter. I experience the fall F-OFF in September.
I really do think I might need an evaluation for SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), but we won’t go there right now. However, I do start hating September, without even giving it a chance, starting around August 1, and although I perk up right after Thanksgiving, I mourn summer like a kid whose carnival goldfish passed away in that cheap bowl two days after throwing a ping pong ball in there.
There was a great commercial from Staples which aired for a few years in a row. I pee in my pants watching it, but I cannot understand the concept. It is not the most wonderful time of the year … there is no free time, my shorts are clinging to my legs like a frightened child on the first day of school begging me not to put them on the shelf, it’s getting dark at 8:30, my kids are grumpy, my grill has entered into a depression, there is no frolicking in the pool after camp, no sleeping in till 7:30, no grabbing ice cream after dinner, trips to the shore. Need I go on about bikinis, tanned legs and icy ombre pink drinks from Starbucks?
But, there are those, who personally and commercially try to get me to love Pumpkin Spice Lattes, sweaters, pumpkin and apple picking. Guess what, you can’t make me love fall. I think it sucks. Back to routine, homework, after school activities that have me embedded into the leather of the driver’s seat of my car so when I get up you see the indent of my coolie. Oh, I have tried to love the fall, and all it’s beauty, which really doesn’t show up until November, and by that time, fall has started to collide, with the 8th deadliest sin, winter.
Does anybody understand what is about to happen here? You all bitch when it’s too hot, “Holy crap, I’m sweating like a pig … omg, this is too hot, ugh, I can’t deal … I’m dripping … I’m melting…” Ahhhh, but when it’s 20 degrees outside and your ass slips on that piece of ice developed by a crying pipe when you walk in to get your toasty latte in the morning wearing your ugly parka with the fur hood, you are cursing the winter and crying “where’s Spring!?” like church goers who go back to God when they find out they are terminal.
The only thing I like about the winter is a big frieking blizzard that knocks out power, shuts down the neighborhood and keeps everyone home. I can stay in my pjs and watch my kids fight over the best cookies to make and take a nap mid-day.
So, personally, I hate the fall. It’s a prequel to winter, which is even uglier, but fall is like winter’s pimp … trying to sell it in sexiest way possible by appealing to your sense of smell, sight and touch. But, really, you get a cheap, decrepit, dead, broken down season that gives you a five minute thrill from November to January, but has you crying from regret every moment after that.
So, to you September, the longest month of the year, the month who seems to have eight weeks and each day is Septmber 1st. You pumpkin, sweater lovin’ kool-aid drinking fall culters, you aren’t fooling me. I want my summer back, and September is the beginning of the end … to the most beautiful season, summer. But, in May, we will all be back with a vengeance and a beach towel.
As fall crept its way into my house last night, summer kept it’s arm around my shoulder and whispered, “It’s all gonna be alright….I’ll be back soon. It’s 85 degrees outside … I’m here for a little while. Don’t cry. It will all be fine.”
But, as I turned on my oven to make one of my favorite one dish wonders, I realized in order for summer to come back to me, my true love, I would have to part with lost leaves, short, dark days, frozen pipes, the after school routine, and grilling. We have returned to the ugliness of pre winter and the renaissance of the creative casserole, cooking dinner before 11 a.m., and making my menu for the following week on a Thursday.
So, let me introduce to you, to one of my favorite, therapeutic, comfort foods … pastina. Isn’t that everyone’s favorite comfort food, or do you have to be Italian? Giada’s Baked Pastina Casserole is a cure all for the autumn blues.
This covers four hungry apple pickers. Adjust the recipe for your clan.
You will need:
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the pastina until al dente. Drain and transfer to a large mixing bowl. (Even if there is still a “bite” to the stars, pasta cooks even after you drain it).
While you are waiting for the pasta to cook, sauté the chicken breast with the olive oil, and after a few minutes, add the onion and garlic, cooking until onion is soft, and chicken is cooked.
Dump everything: the pasta, chicken mixture, diced tomatoes, mozzarella, parsley, salt and pepper into a large bowl and combine.
Butter an approximately 8x8x2 baking dish with butter or spray, and spread your pasta mixture in the dish.
In a small dish, combine the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese, and sprinkle on top. This can remain at room temperature until you are ready to bake it.
When you are ready to bake, cut up some of the butter and dot on top of the casserole.
Bake at 400 until golden brown, probably about 30 min.
HIP MOM HINTS:
1.I use prepared chicken breast like Perdue Short Cuts so nothing has to cook through. It’s much faster and I still sautee’ the meat with the other ingredients to get the flavors to mesh.
2. If your budget allows, try purchasing items like, onions that are already chopped or peeled. What a time and an eye-saver! I would make a terrible sous chef because I hate all the prep. Sometimes I get chopped celery, carrots, etc, depending on what I’m making. Many grocery stores have already cut up stuff just for this purpose.
I cried as I took my first spoonful, but my kids were happy, and in the end, that’s all that counts, right??? Questionable.
I think I told you I really found a compadre last year with my slow cooker. We do like each other, now. And since it’s back to school time, it means back to the cooking grind. So, I found her in my pantry, gave her a light kiss on her little chrome cheek and started to fill her with stuff to make the first Tuesday back to school feast.
Introducing, one of my kids favorites, tacos, in a “dump” form: Slow-Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos with Pico de Gallo from www.eatingwell.com
You will need:
Easy: Mix the first five ingredients in a bowl, spread on the meat, and brown each side just for a few minutes, a total of five minutes just about. Save half the mixture.
Throw the onion in the slow cooker. Add the browned beef. Whisk the broth, tomato paste and remaining spice mixture together and pour over the beef.
Cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 8 hours. Shred the beef with a fork, and stir back into the liquid.
Serve your shredded little Mexican mixture with Pico de Gallo and Lime wedges, with sour cream, shredded cheese and some shredded lettuce ...or your favorite taco toppings.
HIP MOM HINT: Rice and beans on the side will make this a fiesta.
Back to school? OLE’!!!!