Well it's probably not yet Fall to my Southern brethren to whom the "Y'all" cries out, but here in New England, it is indeed Fall.
The first sign was the fact that we turned on our heater. I think it was on about September 27. It had been cold at night for a while, and I asked Terry if he wanted me to bring the space heater into our room from the living room, where we had been using it for at least the last week. He said, "Why don't you just turn on the heater?" I replied, "But it's not even October!"
You see here in New England turning on the heater and turning on the air conditioning is quite a big deal. A few mornings where the temperature hovers at 60 degrees (inside the house!) is not just cause. No ma'am. You must wait until you are sure that it's good and cold to stay. So, against my new New England sensibilities, I turned it on, and found out that others chose this day to fire up the oil tank as well. You might think that there's something other than adjusting the thermostat temp involved in "turning it on." There isn't, but I think it's a sign of heartiness or something. The same goes for the air conditioning. Again, I was quite in sync with the "real" New Englanders when a muggy streak in late July warranted turning the air conditioning on.
The second sure sign of Fall hit me square in the nose yesterday when I opened the front door to take Kyle to the bus stop. It smelled crisp, but also a bit musty. The colorful leaves have begun to fall and we've had some wet weather, which produces that distinctive smell.
So I suppose the first sign really should have been the turning of the leaves, but they started turning back in September due to the cold nights, when it really wasn't quite fall, in spite of the fact that the calendar said it was.
But tonight I sealed the deal. For dinner we had a hearty bean stew and some delicious cornbread.
I've made this soup several times before, and I've even posted the recipe right here, but this time it tasted so much better. For one thing, I used half and half instead of heavy cream (which might be the right answer), and for the first time ever, I actually used the blender on 1/3 of the soup, as directed. It was delicious. Just as in the posted version, I cooked it on the stovetop, not in my slow cooker.
And the cornbread -- it was really really great. It's the Jalapeno Cornbread from my Texas Home Cooking cookbook. The regular cornbread (1/2 flour, 1/2 cornmeal) is jazzed up with the addition of jalapenos (I actually used green chilis), buttermilk, frozen corn kernels, cheese, and melted butter.
What says Fall to you?