Fall temps bring out the big pots

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Monday was the first day of autumn and beginning of a different cooking season. I’m sure all of the hot weather isn’t gone for good but we can all feel the change in the air.

The only thing I don’t like about cold weather cooking is that it seems my favorite dishes to cook only come in one size — big. Since it’s only Emily and I at home now, I have gotten into a bad habit of not cooking these types of dishes because I only make them in quantity.

This is a busy time of year at our house. I work and Emily has school, then she has two extracurricular activities that require going to practice. I didn’t take long and I noticed we were getting into the bad habit of eating Smart Ones and other frozen dinners

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So this past week I went out and found some small plastic containers that hold the perfect amount for gumbo, chili, soups and stew. Starting this weekend I am going to cook something every Saturday so that Emily and I can come in from our running around and still have a home-cooked meal.

I’m looking for a good recipe for beef stew. In high school a friend of mine had a grandmother who made the best beef stew in the world, and I am looking for something to match hers. Please if you have one send it to me. Also, I’m looking for a chili recipe that doesn’t use ground meat. If you have either of these please send them in.

This weekend I am making vegetable beef soup, it’s Emily’s favorite and certainly counts as something healthy and warm on a cool evening.

Vegetable Beef Soup

2 pounds of beef roast or top round steak, cubed

4 28-ounce cans of beef broth

2 15-ounce cans corn, drained

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice

1 28-ounce can green beans, drained

1 15-ounce can double beef broth

1 10-ounce package fozen baby lima beans

2 yellow onions, chopped

1 1/4 cups sliced carrots

1 cup chopped celery

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

8 drops of Tabasco sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

2 potatoes, peeled and chopped

Brown the cubed beef and onions in a the bottom of a large stockpot with as little oil as possible, stirring frequently. Drain and add the beef broth, corn, undrained tomatoes, green beans, double beef broth, lima beans, carrots, celery, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the beef is tender, stirring occasionally. Add the potatoes and return to boil. Boil for 15 to 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Discard bay leaves before serving. Freezes well.

Christina Hall writes a weekly column for The Democrat. She can be reached at christina.hall@natchezdemocrat.com.