In Canada, there are four very distinct seasons. Almost everyone loves summer and winter has its charms but without a doubt, my favourite season is fall. The crisp weather, colourful foliage and an excuse to shop for a new wardrobe are all great reasons to enjoy autumn but let’s not forget about the food! Hearty soups, rich braises, spiced cider and pumpkin treats are only some of the culinary delights fall has to offer. Many of the farmer’s markets will be running for another month or so, their stalls overflowing with pumpkins, squash and apples. Thanksgiving offers a chance to make your favourite autumn dishes such as pumpkin pie and juicy herb-roasted turkey. And of course, there’s Hallowe’en, which falls on a Friday this year so it’s a great excuse for the adults to get together and celebrate the season with spooky cocktails and snacks.
So get ready for fall and check back for lots of great autumn recipes and techniques. To get things started for the season, here is a quick recipe for a cider spice mix so you can whip up a cup of hot apple cider to enjoy after a brisk autumn walk or an afternoon of raking leaves. It can be used with apple cider or, as Christmas nears, hot cranberry juice.
Makes 4 cups of cider – can easily be doubled
- 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half + 4 whole sticks for garnish
- 6 whole cloves
- 1 strip orange peel, about 1″ X 2″ – peel only, make sure white pith is cut off
- 4 whole allspice
- Cheesecloth, doubled and cut into a 6″ X 6″ square
- Kitchen string – about 3″ long
- 4 cups (1 liter) non-alcoholic apple cider OR cranberry juice
- Lay cheesecloth flat on the counter and add all ingredients. Fold up corners and tie tightly with kitchen string.
- In a large saucepan, add cider and spice packet. Heat on medium-high until simmering then reduce to medium-low (do not boil). Simmer for about 30 minutes, until spices permeate the cider.
- Remove spice packet and discard, pour cider into mugs and garnish with cinnamon sticks.