Sunday, November 2, 2008

seasonal senses.

Revel in the living that is "fall".

With its sights: long, lingering walks backlit by tall shadows cast by the end-of-summer sun. Bold hues presented against bluer skies than you can even define. Heaps of uniquely orange-colored, oblong harvest (with a little child perched atop the bounty!). Homes outfitted with a sense of exuberance, color, and warmth. Rows of vines empty of all but the last lucky bunches of sweet grapes that escaped the vintner's clip. Faces lit by the glow cast from an outdoor fire.

With its tastes and its sounds: Crisp apples. Succulent pears. Crunchy leaves. Sweet-savory molasses treats, pumpkin breads, and robust flavors of roasted squash, and cauliflower soups. Tangy stews and bold chilis. New spices and herbs complement fall as sage, marjoram, savory, and rosemary replace the cilantro, basil, and thyme of summer.

This year, I am definitely savoring each moment. Last year found us worrying over Sydney’s birth; me on bed-rest; Leon stressed. It was difficult to notice leaves changing, and we certainly didn’t find time for pumpkin hunting, backyard fireside meals, canning concord jelly with friends, or bringing out those favorite sweaters.

This year has been robust and lasting. Our little family is enjoying it immensely. And we even had Halloween to enjoy with not-just a “childlike” zeal, but with a happy, smiling, wiggly little lovebug.

I wanted to simply share a few of my favorite fall recipes, including a new one for Pumpkin Banana Bread … so, download George Winston’s, Autumn from iTunes and spend time mulling the quiet lead into the crush of the holiday season.

Pumpkin Banana Bread – a fresh take on a classic

2 cups sugar
2/3 cup cooking oil
4 eggs
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
2/3 cup water
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
½ cup mashed ripe banana
¾ cup chopped pecans (optional)

1. Grease the bottom and ½ up the sides of two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans; set aside. In a very large bowl, beat sugar and oil until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.

2. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. Alternately add flour mixture and water to sugar mixture, beating after each addition just until combined (never over mix your dry ingredients!!) Beat in pumpkin and banana. Stir in pecans. Spoon batter into prepared loaf pans.

3. Bake in 350 degree oven for 50-to-60 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick comes out clear. Cool in pans for 10-minutes, remove. Cool completely.

These next recipes link to our family recipe wiki ... enjoy!

Bistro White Chili – Perfect for a fireside meal in the backyard with family and friends.

Chewy Molasses Cookies – Think of those delicious Starbucks’ treats, grab your favorite fall blend and enjoy

Hearty Country French Stew - Great for an afternoon of slow cooking.

Next up, I am trying a cauliflower and chantrelle mushroom soup – and will certainly post if it turns out as yummy as it appears in the magazine, and I also have a recipe for a pear, apple, and cranberry cobbler. Leon doesn’t love apple, so … I may need to find some other willing testers here at home!

At any rate, whether you bake, cook, or order your fall goodness from a local haunt, enjoy your autumn. Be nourished by the season, and bid farewell to the last evidence of summer with calm and joy – be at rest for the hibernating season to come. …

Onward and Upward!

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