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Fall recipes bring memories with them

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Sep. 19, 2012, at 11:07 a.m.
  • Updated Thursday, Sep. 20, 2012, at 12:44 p.m.

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THE WICHITA EAGLE — Sept. 20, 2012


2 eggs

1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 cup dry bread crumbs

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 pounds ground venison

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

In a large bowl, lightly beat eggs; add tomato sauce, onion, crumbs, salt and pepper. Add venison and mix well. Press into an ungreased 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Combine brown sugar, mustard and vinegar; pour over meat loaf. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 70 minutes. Makes 6-8 servings.

THE WICHITA EAGLE — Sept. 20, 2012


1 package cream cheese

3/4 cup ranch dressing

1/2 cup Texas Pete hot sauce

2 cans (10 oz. each) white meat chicken

1 cup Monterrey jack cheese, shredded

Spread cream cheese in 8-by-11-inch pan. Combine ranch, hot sauce and chicken and spread over cream cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with Monterrey jack. Let sit for 10-15 minutes to cool. Serve with corn chips or tortilla chips.

THE WICHITA EAGLE — Sept. 20, 2012


1-2 ham hocks

Onion, whole or large chunks

Green bell pepper, whole (cleaned) or large chunks

3 bay leaves

6 cooked potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters or large chunks

4 carrots, cut into chunks

The following, to taste: salt, pepper, curry powder, Worcestershire sauce, dried parsley, Maggi seasoning, fresh grated nutmeg

Fill large pot about halfway with water and salt. Add ham hocks, onion, bell pepper. Bring to a boil and cook until meat is tender. Remove ham hocks. Skim broth and strain into another pot, saving veggies and discarding bay leaves. Add potatoes, carrots, onion and pepper back into pot and boil until tender. Remove about a cup of broth and place in blender. Add veggies to broth little by little and blend until smooth. Add blended veggies back into broth. Add seasonings.

THE WICHITA EAGLE — Sept. 20, 2012


Air-popped popcorn (about half a roasting pan) and shelled peanuts of your choice (cocktail, Spanish, honey roasted, whatever)

2 sticks butter or margarine

2 cups brown sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place popcorn and peanuts into roasting pan. On stovetop, combine butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, salt and vanilla in large saucepan. Bring to a boil; boil, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. (You will hear a little “whoosh,” and the mixture will turn a caramel color.) Pour over popcorn and peanuts. Bake for one hour, stirring every 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and spread on waxed paper to cool.

As soon as the temperature outside starts to drop, as we begin the slow process of digging out sweaters and storing away beach towels, my oven seems to emit a gravitational pull.

Autumn makes me feel like baking.

And not just baking – cooking. Chopping, stirring, mixing, mincing, searing, braising, basting, roasting.

I spot the first batch of mums and pumpkins outside the grocery store, and I race home to my stained, dog-eared binder of recipes, the one I’ve ignored most of the summer.

I scour cookbooks. I sit on the couch with a pile of them beside me and, during a break in the football game, turn to Randy and say, “Remember that venison meatloaf?”

He does. It was phenomenal, so lean but juicy. A friend gave me that recipe, along with a couple of pounds of venison, not long after her husband had bagged a deer.

I suddenly realize it’s not just the recipes I adore so much, or the act of preparing them, or even the fresh, crisp chill that drifts in from the kitchen windows. It’s the stories and memories behind the cooking. They ground and inspire me.

Autumn means caramel corn, a decades-old recipe from my buddy Alice. I fetch the roasting pan and remember Hannah and Jack as toddlers, standing guard beside the air popper to devour stray kernels.

Autumn means creamy potato soup, my parents’ recipe, the one they cooked up a full week after Hannah’s due date, willing that child into the world – successfully, it turned out – with pureed carrots and a pinch of nutmeg.

Autumn means pumpkin pie, fragrant candles, apple cider with butterscotch schnapps.

It means Buffalo Chicken Dip and Those Sausage Wonton Things, both recipes capitalized and hailed with a certain reverence that, oh my goodness, do they ever deserve.

Pumpkin bread always reminds me of Tara, and artichoke dip of John and Sally. My chicken and noodles will always be “Deb’s Chicken and Noodles,” the ones she delivered to our house after Jack was born. Crockpot queso might be nothing special, but it conjures memories of my friend Kirk’s mom, one of the most special ladies who ever lived.

One day, no doubt, my children will conjure memories as they bite into autumn’s first Honeycrisp apple, or when they cook up “Mom’s famous” pork with gorgonzola sauce for that person they’re trying to impress.

Or maybe the memory will be as simple as a s’more, roasted over a backyard fire pit to golden perfection, a sweet and fitting salute to the season.

Reach Suzanne Perez Tobias at 316-268-6567 or stobias@wichitaeagle.com.

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