Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Applefest weekend

Autumn is festival season here in the lower Midwest; everyone comes out of summer hibernation, turns off the central air conditioning, and enjoys spending some time outside. Winter and summer are harsh and extreme, and spring is fickle and unreliable (you never know when a thunderstorm might brew up and send forth a twister), but autumn is placid, sunny, and beautiful. You could probably hit a different festival every weekend in September and October without going too far from home; our town’s big one is the annual Apple Festival, which was last weekend.

I really don’t like the summer hibernation, and autumn is my favorite season anyway, so I get a little hoopy when it starts to cool off. I certainly have this year, probably because this summer was even more intolerable than last summer. Or maybe it just seemed that way because this year I had patio furniture which I couldn’t use without getting a) melted or b) devoured by mosquitoes.
In any case, when last weekend rolled around I suddenly realized that I had invited a rather large number of people to a) park on our street, b) wander downtown with us to Applefest, or c) eat a meal at our house in conjunction with said wandering. In many cases, all of the above. And as the weekend shaped up to be bright, sunny, and mild, it became apparent that all of them were going to take me up on it.

I suppose we could have just taken them all to eat out. But since downtown really was a madhouse, and most of what was being sold at the food stalls barely qualified as food (and I should know, I was roped into helping prepare some of it), that wasn’t a very palatable option. Which is how I came to be making dinner for eight on Saturday night, followed by brunch for 13 on Sunday. And I went to Applefest both days. And I even, as I mentioned, helped out with “food” prep at the PTO booth on Saturday morning (if you can call canned apple-pie filling wrapped in flattened, canned biscuit dough, skewered, and deep-fried “food”, more power to you, ‘cause sorry but I can’t).

I was kind of impressed with myself that I did all that without being reduced to a gibbering wreck (although I did go to bed at 9:15 on Sunday night), so I decided to document what I did for future reference.

Saturday dinner menu
Summer herb dip with carrots and pita chips
Italian-style pot roast (from Slow Cooker Revolution)
Italian potatoes with oil
Roasted zucchini
Peach-raspberry crumble (following the basic recipe here, with different fruit)

Sunday brunch menu
French toast casserole (from The Best Make-Ahead Recipe)
Oven-fried potatoes
Whole wheat scones (from Dinner with Julie)
Fruit salad (okay, I admit it: this was store-bought)
Peach-raspberry crumble

Saturday afternoon before Applefest:

1. Made dip to serve before dinner.
2. Prepped pot roast and put in the slow cooker.
3. Washed potatoes and left in the microwave to cook at dinnertime.
4. Chopped and salted zucchini to drain until roasting at dinnertime.
5. Made bread dough and left to rise.
6. Sliced peaches and left to macerate.
7. Made double batch of crumble topping.

Saturday dinnertime:

1. Baked, chopped, smashed and mixed potatoes.
2. Roasted zucchini.
3. Baked bread.
4. Assembled and baked one peach-raspberry crumble; put other half of fruit and crumble topping (separately) in fridge for Sunday morning.
5. Sliced up a loaf of supermarket Italian bread onto a cookie sheet; put in the turned-off but still hot oven after dinner to dry out.

Saturday night:

1. Assembled and refrigerated French toast casserole.

Sunday morning:

1. Took French toast casserole and crumble components out of fridge.
2. Preheated oven to 350F/180C.
3. Washed and chopped potatoes; tossed in roasting pan with olive oil.
4. Put French toast casserole and potatoes in oven.
5. Assembled second peach-raspberry crumble and put in oven.
6. Put bacon on baking trays.
7. Made scones.
8. When French toast casserole and crumble cooked, removed from oven and turned up heat to 400F/200C.
9. Put in scones and bacon with still-cooking potatoes.
10. Put fruit salad in a bowl.

And voilĂ ! Two home-cooked company meals in 18 hours, feeding 21 people (including us). The only thing I didn’t manage to do was take pictures of the spreads. Must remember to add that to my To Do list next time….

Would love to hear how you’re celebrating the season where you are!


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