Autumn Meals

As I write this, there is bread rising on my countertop. A red stoneware dish full of apples is in the oven, bubbling under a crust of buttery cinnamon clove crumble. On the stovetop, a pan of carrots, mushrooms, bacon, and pearl onions sizzles and caramelizes deeply, the topping for the red wine and beef stew simmering and thickening in the oven beside the apples.


Monday, it was chicken soup. Have you ever had proper chicken soup, the kind made from real stock and not those sad, vaguely metallic broths from cans? There is simply no comparison. I had a chicken carcass in my fridge from dinner that weekend, and I boiled it on the stove for hours, finally straining the meat and bones out. I added carrots, potatoes, butternut squash, spinach, rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves to the stock while the carcass cooled, then picked off the meat and added it back into the pot. Even my mother, who is a great cook and makes a good chicken soup herself, tasted mine and said, “Holy shit.”

On the side was a quickbread, mixed in about 10 minutes: savory scones with scallions and cheddar. The scent when I opened the oven is not to be believed; it was the epitome of mouthwatering. After the meal we had the spiced pumpkin bread I had baked the day before, lightly toasted and dripping with butter.

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You simply can’t go wrong with traditional cold-weather recipes. Summertime can be tricky, because recipes for that season rely on top-of-the-line produce and that can be very hard to find, but fall and winter dishes are far more forgiving. Vegetable are glazed in sauces, or browned in the drippings of roasting meats, or baked in creamy casseroles with rice and potatoes and pastas. Cheaper, tougher cuts of meat take a front seat in slow-cooker roasts and stews, and even fruit is spiced and tucked between layers of flaky pastry or submerged in rich cake batters.

I’m going to be sharing more of my cooking exploits over the coming months, and I hope that you all will comment with some of your favorite fall and winter recipes for me to try! Thanks for reading, see you soon!

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  Now For October Eves

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The advent of October is always thrilling to me, and that’s not just because October 1st is my birthday. This is the day when it’s officially “acceptable” (for those who care about that sort of thing) to start going crazy with Halloween decorations and pumpkins, to cover everything in colored leaves, to fill jars with candy, and cut out cookies in the shapes of bats and witches’ hats and cauldrons.

This, if you believe the old, old stories, is the time of year when the whispering veil between the mortal and immortal worlds is at its thinnest. Many have postulated that astral travel and ghost sightings are most common in people when they are between sleeping and waking, so perhaps it should come as no surprise that, when the Earth is tilting towards its own long sleep, ghosts roam more freely through its woods and lonely places.

The creatures that go bump in the night change their shapes depending on who’s looking. Sometimes they’re familiar, someone we’ve known and lost, and certain traditions are meant to keep their memory alive within the living. An extra place is set at the table, their favorite foods are prepared, and small offerings are made at their graves, either to honor or placate.

Sometimes the figures are stranger and older, figures from long past that remain and wander restlessly, searching. For what, who can say? Revenge, perhaps. Or justice. Or peace. Only the dead will ever know.

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And then, in the hollows of the hills and the darkness of bogs and woods, are those creatures whose natures are mischievous and malevolent by turns, the goblins and faeries and sneaking little sprites that wreak havoc on unsuspecting folk. These are the ones for whom those leering Jack-O-Lanterns are carved, set out on front steps to frighten away those that seek to tease or torment. And in a last-ditch effort, if those glowing orange grins aren’t enough to keep the beasties away, we hand out candy to satisfy them and hope they continue onto some other hapless soul.

I love this season. Redolent with fantastic dangers, hair-raising stories, and an unsettling scent of earth and dead leaves in the air, October is the harbinger of darkness and the unseen. There is nothing quite so as enjoyable to me as letting a little of that chilly darkness in, and then pushing it back again with the candlelight and warmth of hearth and home.

Do you have any Halloween traditions? What is on your ‘To-Do List’ this October?

Harvest Magic


Autumn is magical, isn’t it? It’s different than other seasons, somehow. Winter is beautiful but often brutal; Spring is full of hope and light, yet the muddy dregs of winter cling to it and mar its beginning; Summer is as brutal as Winter in many ways, driving us inside our air-conditioned homes while we gaze longingly out at our gardens and patios.

And then, Autumn. It begins slowly, the blistering heat slowing relenting and allowing us to enjoy our yards again. Grocery stores and farmers markets grow abundant with piles of brilliantly colored tomatoes, fragrant peaches, and rustling ears of corn. Children excitedly pick out backpacks and binders, their shiny new school-shoes squeaking as they wear them right out of the stores.

It’s a quickening, a gathering of energy bursting forth for one last glorious display of richness and warmth before the earth inhales again, gathering itself close for a long, deep sleep. We feel the urgency inside us, a vestige of the times when harvest spurred our activity to fever pitch, driving us to cook and store and prepare for the long dark.

Only we don’t have that outlet anymore. Not many of us, anyway. It’s no surprise that despite fresh, living food being readily available year-round, home canning and preserving has seen a resurgence in recent years. The urge to line our nests is so deep in us that even after modern technology has solved the issue of famine and winter shortages, we continue.

For me, it starts with baking. The leaves don’t even have to change a shade before I’m imagining my kitchen filled with the aromas of apple pie, pumpkin bread, and spice cookies. I start craving deeper, richer colors and shopping for thick-knitted sweaters. The desire to dive head-first into Halloween decorating can be frankly irresistible.

In an effort to pace myself and start slow, I decided to try printing a list to keep in my planner. The one I found from the blog Paper&Glam is fun and you can even buy a sheet of printable stickers to match and put on your calendar. So far this month, I’ve crossed 5 things off the list: pink and orange floral, teal manicure, fall home decor, pumpkin spice latte (I cheated a little and had a frappucino, but give me a break, it’s fucking hot in Texas!), and Labor Day (which I spent not laboring).

I like this method of spacing things out and having specific goals, because I can tend towards burning out by eating pumpkin cookies and drinking cider for 60 days straight.

Tomorrow I’m making peach pie, and this weekend will be fresh corn chowder and the first use of my fire pit! I even got toasting forks for the marshmallows.

Autumn is over too quickly, and I am determined to enjoy the hell out of it before it’s gone. What do you think I should I add to my to-do list?