Autumn is my favorite season. Except for spring. And winter. Dammit. OK, I like every season except for summer. Humidity + heat = cranky mama. But fall holds a special place in my heart. Fall is leaf change and wild windy storms and crisp morning temperatures and great food. Did I mention the great food?

I think we’re biologically programmed to hold a lot of gatherings in the fall, before the snow storms come in and we’re stuck at home. There’s Halloween, and Thanksgiving . . . and Canadian Thanksgiving . . . and birthday parties for half my friends (side eye at the parents making all these September and October babies), plus Rosh Hashanah, Mabon, Samhain, Day of the Dead, Diwali, and so on. Autumn runs from the fall equinox to the winter solstice, and change is the name of the game.

Pot lucks are my favorite kind of party because they fit in so well with busy families making time in their schedules to get together and break bread. Pot lucks are the recognition that social gatherings are critical to the health of a community, but moms and dads are BUSY. It’s great to get together. It’s even better when the onus isn’t completely on the host. Everyone brings a dish, no one saddles the whole burden, and there are tons of new recipes you get to taste. Win win.

My sister gifted me with The One Potluck Recipe. This is the magic recipe that can be cooked in a crock pot, easily taken to parties, makes omnivores happy while being completely vegan and gluten free, and is both inexpensive and easy. This is The One.

The base recipe is as follows:

1 can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix!)

2 cans kidney beans

1 can diced tomatoes

1 onion (large chop, small dice, doesn’t matter)

1 packet chili seasoning

To this, you can add any number of ingredients to give it personality. My favorite combo is:

1 chipotle pepper with a tablespoon of adobo sauce (comes in the can with the peppers, so you just dump a smirch in)

a dash of cinnamon or allspice

a couple chopped bell peppers if I get around to it, any size

Depending on the event I’m going to, I’ll double or triple the recipe. If I’m feeling really spiffy, I’ll throw in a bag of tortilla chips or a round of sourdough bread. First week of October, count on this. The next week when both kids are auditioning for two separate musicals and I’m volunteering for both? You get chili. Be happy about chili. Because it’s darn good chili.


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