Fall

veggiesoupIn the blink of an eye, summer disappeared. It seems like the 4th of July was just yesterday when we wore short sleeve shirts and shorts, had a picnic in the park, and watched fireworks explode overhead.

Now we're trying to keep warm and dry as dark clouds matte out the sky and cold winds push thick rain drops against our bodies. At a time like this, happiness is a good parka and thick socks!

Wrapping up in a thick blanket or cozying up to a well-stoked fireplace fortifies body and soul against the chill. For internal weatherproofing, though, nothing beats the cold better than homemade soup.

Simple is often best and that is doubly true in soups. When I'm cold, I want my soup hot, fresh tasting, and flavorful.

Vegetable soup is easy-to-make and nourishing. Perfect any time of the day, but when the weather's cold and rainy, I like soup in the morning. It's better than a cup of coffee or tea to get me out the door.

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pumpkincakePumpkin is one of my favorite ingredients, especially during the fall months. This is a great cake for friends with October/November birthdays (like me!)

It’s also a nice alternative to pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving.

Feel free to substitute whole wheat or white wheat flour for the all-purpose.

Pumpkin Cake:

3/4 cup (6 oz.) unsalted butter; more for the pans
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups (9 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the pans
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
1/3 cup buttermilk

Cream Cheese Frosting:

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar
16 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch salt

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winepears.jpgPears have a special place in my childhood. When I was a kid, my family would pick pears from the trees in my aunt and uncle's backyard. They always had more pears than they knew what to do with. My aunt made pear sauce, much like apple sauce, and my mom would can the pears to be eaten as compote. We would also eat them raw, when their so sweet, juicy, and buttery. I love them that way, but often enough the ones you buy in the market are not the best to eat out of hand. That's when I like to poach pears to create a unique dessert.

Poaching pears in red wine turns them into glowing red jewels with tender and succulent flesh, flavored by the spiced poaching liquid. Spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, or star anise can be added for exotic flavor. Citrus rind or tea leaves, like Earl Grey, also add flavor. The composition is up to you but the cooking method is simple. Once the pears are cooked, the poaching liquid can be reduced to create a syrup. Serve the pears with the reduction sauce and a dollop of crème fraîche for a very elegant dessert that would make a lovely ending to any dinner party.

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squashsoupThere is magic in these fields we have - the kind of magic that store bought soil or fertilizer cannot bring about. It's a magic that I can only be a part of in the smallest of ways and then the rest is up to the sun, moon and stars. When we moved here, there were scrubby weeds that had grown taller than my husbands face and not an ounce of decent soil existed beneath them, but as the rains have given us grass, the cows have provided rich manure and so the circle of restoring our land began.

During the process of turning weeds and waste into true fertile soil, we've had the suprise of volunteer squash vines growing in great numbers. I'm completely humbled by the massive plant with it's very own intentions and whether or not I am there to trellis the tendrils or support it's fruit, the squash lives on through sun and storms.

Tip toeing amongst the mound of vigorous vines, I fall so in love with the eagerness of life that surrounds us. Everywhere I turn, life is happening in a way that is supported by a chain of different species. We all depend so greatly on eachother to grow.

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applegingercider.jpgWhile apples are rolling in – out of Georgia’s orchards in lieu of peaches, this fizzy drink makes for a cool refreshment on an Indian summer day. After the first frost of autumn, our Southern climate often experiences warm days reminiscent of summertime before the onset of winter proper.

I love this time of year for its warm during the day and crisp at night and in the early morning. This drink is reflective of those temperatures. For if the day has a briskness in the air, serve it at room temperature.

If it is a warm Indian summer day, then serve over ice. Cinnamon sticks and candied ginger make for lovely garnishes and the ginger is a delightful snack too.

If it is a warm Indian summer day, then serve over ice. Cinnamon sticks and candied ginger make for lovely garnishes and the ginger is a delightful snack too.

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