A Taste of Fall

garden.jpgThere's nothing more spectacular than the brilliant colors of Autumn in the South, especially the trees that turn deep shades of amber and ruby red. It's my favorite time of year to visit the farm in middle Georgia, where I grew up and all of my family still resides. The 2 hour drive from my home in Atlanta takes me to a place that is truly another world. A phone call from my niece, Caroline, asking me to take her and her best friend to the Georgia National Fair, in nearby Perry was a good enough reason to go home for a long weekend.

As I start to mourn the loss of peaches and summer tomatoes (the one's that are actually red inside and taste like tomatoes), the cool weather ushers in the fall crops. My Dad planted, many years ago for his grandchildren, an entire orchard devoted to autumn crops. There are many different varieties of pears, figs, and pomegranate trees all of which are surrounded by an orchard of pecan trees. I think my dad had some sort of fairy tale vision of picking up his grandchildren at the bus stop after school and taking them to the orchard where he could sit in his swing and watch them frolic among the trees while eating fresh picked pears and figs. He learned very quickly that if he wants to see some stoned-faced children, take them to the orchard. If he wants to be the coolest grandpa in town, take them to Dairy Queen.

funnel.jpgCaroline was smart enough to call me before her sisters and cousins did because she knows I am a sucker for 'Fair food' and that would mean an extra day at the Fair for her. This is exceptional Fair food because a lot of it is made by locals and not the Carnys. In the first 15 minutes we were there, we had bbq ribs, a hand dipped corn dog, a funnel cake, an apple dumpling, a stick of chocolate covered strawberries and as I was searching for our next culinary indulgence, Caroline reminded me that there are rides at the fair too. Oh yeah.

I felt sick and all I could think about was how nice and peaceful it was going to be to sleep in my room on the farm that night. I love letting up the windows and feeling the crisp fresh air. The sounds of owls hooting and leaves falling from the trees is a far cry from the fire trucks, ambulances, police cars, trains and occasional gun shots that I hear at night in Atlanta. Before I went to bed that night, mother made the comment "remember the acorns are falling." I thought how charming that too, must sound.

trees2.jpgWhat she forgot to mention is the animals who come out of the woods at night, searching for food before winter sets in. I could have sworn that that Noah's ark had docked outside my window and the animals were auditioning for the circus. It sounded like a pack of wildebeasts running back and forth, across the yard and I could hear the hoofs of a giraffe tramping around in the leaves. And there were monkeys jumping around on a cage they brought from the Ark. I got up and looked outside but it was pitch black dark so I beat the shutters against the window and tried to scare them off, with no luck.

I finally got up, with little sleep when I heard Mother in the kitchen the next morning. She explained the wildebeasts were actually wild hogs that come over from the river at night, digging, destroying the yard, looking for some sort of large worm. The giraffe was a deer, eating acorns and the monkeys were armadillos who were jumping on a trap that was set outside my window. The idea is for them to walk into the trap to get the food, not jump on top of it!!  All of it made perfect sense, except for one thing. What sort of creature had a sling shot and was pelting rocks at my window and the skylight outside my room all night? Mother laughed and said "those were the acorns falling."

Holiday Pomtini

3/4 oz. freshly squeezed pomegranate juice* or 100% Pomegranate Juice
1 oz.  Orange flavored vodka
3/4 oz. Peachtree Schnapps
1 oz. fresh orange juice
1/4 oz. lemon juice
Equal parts ground cinnamon and granulated sugar for garnish spiraled orange rind for garnish


1. Shake all drink ingredients with ice to chill.

2. Serve in a martini glass prepared as follows: Mix in a bowl, one part ground cinnamon and one part granulated sugar. Moisten the rim of a martini glass by swiping a slice of orange around the rim. Dust glass rim with the sugared cinnamon mixture and decorate with a spiral of orange

Prosciutto-Wrapped Figs with Gorgonzola and Walnuts

9 large fresh black Mission figs, stemmed, halved
18 1x5-inch thin strips prosciutto (about 3 ounces)
3 tablespoons Gorgonzola cheese
18 large walnut pieces, toasted

Preheat broiler. Cover large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Wrap each fig half with 1 prosciutto strip; place on prepared sheet. Broil until prosciutto chars slightly on edges, about 1 1/2 minutes. Turn figs; broil about 1 1/2 minutes longer, watching closely to prevent burning. Place 1/2 teaspoon Gorgonzola atop each fig half. Top each with walnut piece. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Laura grew up in a small southern town in Georgia on a cotton and pecan farm where life centered around family, friends and good food. She has lived in Atlanta for 20 years and has been a Flight Attendant for a major airline for 18 years, traveling the world in search for the next best meal.