Fall cocktails, blush hues. This week, a study in contrasts.

It’s that time of year when the skies start to darken earlier than normal. At 9PM, sunset in the height of summer is just starting to edge its way down the valley that sits squarely across from our stone patio. It’s now mid-fall, and that hour is 5PM, the time ticking towards that point in November when the clocks are turned back and we, for the most part, accept with reluctance that winter is near.

I love the darkness. I love the rain. I love anything that forces me to stay inside and seek cover amongst a treasured set of inanimate objects. Books, magazines, iphone gadgets – ordered yet still unpackaged. Reading, writing, cleaning, procrastinating. Wearing nothing but loungewear.

I love the smell of fall. The whiff of damp leaves that hangs in the cold air when the kids run in from their games outside. I once bought a candle from

Homesick Candles,  each candle smelling like the leaves endemic to the state on the label. More Aēsop than Yankee Candle should you ask, I can’t take those cloying smells. I bought the candle that said “Washington”. I’m not from Washington. I’m not from anywhere close to Washington. But the candle reminded me of this time of year. The hunker. The silence. Somehow, it smells like home.

It’s the season for sturdy stockpots and cast iron cookware. Long-neglected since the early days of spring when the days are still more cool than warm. My pots nearly beckon me to use them, cry out for a damp rag to release them from their silken coats of dust. They speak to me, I know they do. Maybe yours will too if you bend your ear and listen.

In summer it’s hard to cook slowly and methodically. Meals require nothing but a quick sear or a bracing vinaigrette. But, autumn demands it of us.

Including cocktails. Especially cocktails.

I made these beauties a few weeks ago; on a weekend that was just warm enough in the sunshine to make outdoor drinking appealing. The morning had been crisp, the kitchen tiles cool to the touch. We were in the mood for cocktails (before noon, naturally), and I’d be damned if I wasn’t going to use my stove to prep them.

And make use of all of the fall flavors. Autumn Glory apples with notes of sweet caramel and cinnamon. Apple pie without the guilt.

continue reading

5 comments
_MG_9046
_MG_9031

I’m well aware that these may be the last of my Fall images. It was perfect weather until two weeks ago when the polar ice caps did their dance, vortexes (vortices?) brewed, and two unwelcome sets of Arctic winds swept through the East Coast. Fortunately we were in California last weekend and missed a cold Thanksgiving. But the weekend before, brrr……

I’m still sorting through the hundreds of images that I took on our trip to LA – I’ll post a few of those next week. My family can expect an album-length synopsis of every waking minute from touchdown to wheels up. A new camera will do that to you.

I bought my camera as an early Christmas present – to myself – which I never do. But I’ve been lusting after a new camera for years. I’d done the research, I’d picked out the lens. I’d even rented both pieces, just to be sure.

It’s a genius camera and a joy to use. I’ve loved taking it on long walks with the kids, and bought it just in time to catch the last of our Fall colors.

_MG_9069

_MG_9054

_MG_9100

44 comments

Barley_risotto_squash_sage_csa-12

If there’s a more Fall-spirited, festive, happy-making dish around, please fill me in.

Let’s talk about ingredients first, starting with this squash. (I know, I know, three straight weeks of squash…next week will be squash-free, promise).

The name “Carnival” really sums it up. This squash makes me want to throw on a party hat and blow on a plastic kazoo. Am I the only one?

Carnival squash is a heritage breed and can usually be found at your local farmer’s market. If you’re really lucky, lighting strikes, and you’re there on the right day, you can find them at Whole Foods. Especially around Thanksgiving when Whole Foods erupts into a massive delivery channel of straight-from-the-farm produce, from Winter greens to Winter squash, Garnet Yams, and everything in between.

Barley_risotto_squash_sage_csa-9

Barley_risotto_squash_sage_csa-8

The Carnival squash’s skin ranges from dark green to vivid orange, and the flesh is sweet and a little spicy. I’ve got to be careful about using the word “flesh” since my kids erroneously presumed that I was feeding them humans when we did our mystery food challenge last week. I assume that you won’t make the same mistake. We don’t eat humans in our house, and neither should you.

If you’ve been reading my posts, you’ll know that I have a habit of prepping ingredients right after I get home from the store. Prepped ingredients are far easier to incorporate into quick-fix meals, so I usually slice and roast squash with nothing but olive oil, salt and pepper, and then figure out how to use it at a later time.

Likewise with homemade stock. Whenever I’m at the store, I pick up a few extra pieces of bony/collagen-filled meat, which I make into stock that can either be refrigerated for a few days, or frozen. If you’ve ever wondered who that person is buying up those packages of chicken backs, lamb necks, or chunky pork bones – that would be me. They’re cheap, and the bones give your stock incredible body.

Barley_risotto_squash_sage_csa-13

continue reading

9 comments

sam_FeedMeDearly (2)

Like its sister June, September has an uncanny ability to confuse the senses. One day it’s warm, calling for T-shirts and frilly pink dresses…

girls_FeedMeDearly

lake_FeedMeDearly (2)

nap_FeedMeDearly (1)

window_FeedMeDearly

emma_FeedMeDearly

nap_FeedMeDearly

…polar bear dips in the lake…

lake_FeedMeDearly (1)

lake_FeedMeDearly

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

dock_FeedMeDearly
continue reading

47 comments

Fall cooking

I’m equally sad and excited when Fall rolls around. Fortunately I love to cook, which keeps the cold weather blues at bay. I love summer, our weekend trips to the lake complete with an endless supply of popsicles and watersports.

But something about turning on the stove and simmering soups, stocks, and stews for hours on end is so comforting. I love the smell of Fall cooking. The earthy vegetables, the slow-roasted meats. It’s a smell that permeates your house, and makes it feel like home.

It’s a completely different kind of cooking from the meals I tend to make in the summer. And especially this summer – I was on a huge raw kick – tomato salads of every kind (see my tomato concern from this week’s Wordless Wednesday post), diced fruit with honey and mint, and raw vegetables marinated in olive oil, vinegar and herbs.

But I’m ready to re-embrace my stove.

People tend to gripe about Fall cooking. They say it’s less healthy, full of butter and bacon. And it takes time. Which is often true.

But it doesn’t have to be. Especially the part about it taking time – I’ll keep my rich Fall dishes, thank you very much. There are over 200 days until I wear a bikini again, and I’m fine with putting a little meat on my bones.

Quick Fall Cooking_FeedMeDearly

continue reading

29 comments