It seemed to happen all at once last week: fall arrived. Seemingly overnight, gone were the warm, long days of summer, replaced by crisp air, grey days, and even, thankfully, rain.

As it happened, last week was also my first of three weeks of not having solid time to work, between the end of summer camps for Owen and the beginning of full-day kindergarten. Rather than stress out about my loss of work time, I’ve managed to relax into it.

Conveniently, the change in weather also coincided with my having the time and energy to get seriously domestic. I don’t feel like getting seriously domestic very often, so when the feeling strikes, I do my best to make the most of it. Three weeks seems like a long time to not have a solid work day, but the weeks will pass quickly enough, to be replaced before I know it by the busier, more frantically scheduled days of lots-of-work, school schlepping, soccer schlepping, and Hebrew school schlepping.

My goal, then, is to set myself up to feel very grateful for this domestic time.

I fired up the slow cooker for the first time in months last week, and I froze half the batch of split-pea soup I made. (I used this recipe as a starting point, but used about 2/3 green split peas and 1/3 yellow, I eliminated the tomatoes [Greg can’t eat ’em] and dried parsley [didn’t haven’t any, and anyway wouldn’t have used it if we did], and I browned the onions and garlic before adding them to the cooker.)

Slow cooker split-pea soup

And I took Owen apple picking (in the pouring rain), so this coming week I’ll not only make apple crumble, I’ll also can a few half-litre jars of apple-pie filling so I can make quick desserts in coming months. We made apple chips that same afternoon (next time I’ll bake them for longer; they were a little chewy).

We made apple chips after apple-picking at Willow View Farms

At the apple farm, we also picked up some cookie cutters, and I made my first batch of sugar cookies ever (seriously – I always figured why bother making sugar cookies when you can make oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies?). And I froze half the sugar cookies. (I used this recipe, but subbed vegan margarine for butter because G’s got a whey thing, and I subbed whole-wheat flour for a third of the total flour amount; I ended up putting in a bunch more white flour after mixing the dough, because it was way too wet – maybe because of the margarine substitute – but all was well after that.)

Non-dairy part-whole-wheat sugar cookies. Yum!

We picked up a couple of sweet pumpkins at the farm, too, and I’ll make another big batch of soup soon, half destined for the freezer.

Over the last few months, I feel like my (previously non-existent) cooking game has been upped significantly. I mean, I started from having almost zero game, so any improvement would be a dramatic one. But I’m feeling half-competent in the kitchen for the first time in my life, and I’m enjoying preparing food I actually enjoy eating, and that my family actually enjoys eating, and I especially enjoy making enough food that I’ll give myself some very, very easy dinners in the weeks and months to come.

Do you have favourite simple (seriously, stress on the simple) slow-cooker, canning, or freezer-friendly recipes you love to make and eat? Let’s have a prep-for-winter extravaganza in the comments!