Happy Halloween!


Halloween is huge here in Utah. People start decorating for Halloween on September 1, which seems weird to me. It was mid-October before we even got our pumpkin, which might tell you how bah-humbug I am.

Pumpkin Fatigue

It's pumpkin season. Pumpkin carving, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin cake, pumpkin pie. That's a lot of pumpkin.

I'll let you in on a little secret: I don't much care for pumpkin. There, I said it. It's true. While everyone else is chowing down on pumpkins, I'd much rather be eating something else. Like cranberry-orange muffins. Now there's a Starbucks goodie I used to go nuts over. And then...it wasn't there anymore. And then...I had to eat gluten-free.


I've tried my fair share of gluten-free cranberry-orange muffin recipes, but I quite like this one. It's got a great crumb, but it still holds together, which is always a feat for gluten-free baked goods. With a cinnamon crumble topping, it still has a little taste of fall.  Popped in the toaster oven, it rivals any and all things pumpkin.

Hi, Mom!


My craft room is just below ground level, with the window right at ground level. It's amazing to me that Odie doesn't notice me in the room more often, but when he does, it goes something like this. He peeks in, sees me in there, then races to the back door hoping to be let in. Such a cutie!

Last Bell Peppers

These are my last bell peppers this season. I ended up with far more than I expected - I've never had much luck with peppers before - and hopefully I won't have to buy any over the winter.


The best of them went into the oven at about 450 degrees to be roasted and peeled. The high temperature makes their skins blister, and the meat of the pepper slides right out of the skin.

Switchboard

I'm sort of a knitting geek.  I can't help myself.  Wherever I go, my knitting goes. I've even taken to knitting in restaurants and bars while we wait for our food.  In short, I've passed the point of no return.

Home-Made Ricotta Cheese

So...I never thought I'd be making my own cheese, but I couldn't find any organic ricotta cheese at the grocery store and decided to give it a shot.  It was so easy, I'll definitely be doing it again. And again, and again...

All you need is milk, lemon juice, and salt. Whole milk and cream work best - the lower fat milks just won't work for this. The measurements don't seem to matter too much. I used about a quart of whole milk, a cup of cream, 1/4 cup lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Pour the milk and cream into a saucepan, and slowly heat to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. It'll get sort of foamy as it gets to that temperature. Remove from heat.

Creamy Corn Chowder

The days are getting shorter. Too short, if you ask me. And it's getting cold. Windy and cold.

All of this means that it's soup season. Not the light, thin soups of summer, but the hearty and rib-sticking stews of fall and winter. Like corn chowder.  Depending on how you make it, it can be light and delicate in flavor or thick, creamy, and oh-so-filling. I like it the second way, and topped with crispy bacon.

I love eating out on the porch, although the days we have left to do that are numbered. But with a piping hot bowl of corn chowder, it's possible to extend those days just the tiniest bit.


Creamy Corn Chowder

Stuffed Bell Peppers Over Dirty Rice

Continuing in the theme of things that happened over a month ago, I thought I'd share this recipe.  When I made it, I still had a glut of garden tomatoes and peppers from my garden. (That basil was a last-minute addition, and came from a plant on my windowsill.) There's still a trickle of fresh tomatoes and peppers, either ripening in the shed or picked up from the farmer's market from a grower witty enough to outsmart the frost. This recipe is quick to put together - most of the work occurs in the oven and the ricepot.

Last(ish) Caprese

When I made this caprese, I was sure it would be the last of the season. It's the last of the season with tomatoes from my garden, to be sure, although I did find some tomatoes at the farmer's market.



Like so many gardeners do, I say goodbye to tomato season with mixed feelings. I'm glad that the time to be overwhelmed with tomatoes waiting to be canned, frozen, or eaten is drawing to a close. I have plenty of tomatoes canned or tucked into the freezer to get me through the winter, but I sure will miss fresh tomatoes since I absolutely refuse to buy tomatoes from the grocery store in the winter.

Desk Friend

I work in an office that doesn't have much of a view of the outside world. Even if I could see outside, there wouldn't be much of nature to see - just some trees planted in the sidewalk that always make me wonder how they manage to survive. So I decided I needed a desk buddy, and this is it. (There's actually another one too - I rotate them between the office and home to make sure they both get enough light.)



Tastes Like Fall

I love apple cider. Love, love, love. It's my favorite thing about fall.

The only thing more satisfying than buying a jug of apple cider at the grocery store is making it. Yes, making it.

Don't run away! It's really not that hard! Just cut up some apples, cover with water, add some spices, and simmer away. Bonus: free air freshener for your house.


Okra Fritter and Goat Cheese Salad

 Remember my Jail Kale Stew? It was made with kale grown as a part of a program for inmates at the local jail. On a later trip to the farmer's market, I picked up some okra at the jail's produce stand. Okra's not something that's easy to find out here, so I jumped at the chance to get some. And of course, it has to be fried.



I made these fritters (using gluten-free flour, of course), and they came out wonderfully. I may or may not have eaten a couple right out of the pan. But just to be sort-of healthy and offset the deep-fried okra, I made a salad with extra goat cheese for good measure. Eaten out on the porch, it was just the right combination of hot and cool, greasy and leafy. Yum!


Fall Farmer's Market


It's fall. It's getting cold and rainy over here, and there are just a few farmer's markets left.


The crowds are starting to thin, as are the vendors.


Today, we walked around the farm where the farmer's market is held.  We saw ducks...

Wriggly Worms

I'VE GOT WORMS!

video


That's the text I sent Mike when I picked up my red wrigglers. Apparently, he had to sheepishly explain to a coworker who saw the text that no, they're not that kind of worms. They're for gardening.

I had worms while I was in law school. They even made the trek with me across the country. And then, they all died in what Mike refers to as "The Purge." We were in a tiny apartment, I brought them in from the balcony for the winter, and kept them under the sink. Lots of resources say that's a great spot for red wrigglers, but not my sink. It was just too hot and humid for them, and they all decomposed into a pile of goo. It was horrible.

Once they were all laid to rest as the ultimate compost, I was a little relieved that I didn't have to fuss over where to put them in our tiny apartment. But when we moved to a rental house earlier this year, I started to ache for my little wiggly buddies again. Our soil was so poor, and vermicompost (that's worm poop) would be just the thing to amend it. And I was getting sick of throwing out kitchen scraps. What a waste, when some happy little worms could chow down on the carrot peels I didn't want. 

Bruschetta

If you're lucky enough to still have fresh heirloom tomatoes where you are, I hope you're savoring them. My favorite way to do this is with some bruschetta.

Take some amazing gluten-free bread, and sprinkle it with basil, oregano, garlic, and thyme. I use Penzey's Pasta Sprinkle, because it goes on everything I make. I buy it in big ol' bags, and no, they didn't pay me to say that...


Smother with butter, and don't tell my mother I still eat butter all by itself...then toast to get the butter and herbs all way down in the cracks of the bread

Race to the Start

It's a race against the clock. Days are getting shorter, nights are getting colder, and the down comforter has replaced the light summer blanket on the bed. We walk around the house in slippers and flannel.

Winter is coming.

The garden--right before I ripped everything out
You can see it in the garden. Out came the sunflowers and cucumbers to make way for the garlic, getting ready to sleep through the winter under their blankets of mulch.

Fall Chill

Oh boy. I am superwaybehind on blogging this fall. You know that feeling? Like an awkward pause in a conversation, where so much time has gone by, and you finally think of something to say, but don't say it because all of a sudden it doesn't seem like the right moment anymore. Maybe that's just me.

Anyways, blogging has been a struggle this fall. There are so many things to do that blogging just hasn't happened. It's not that I'm not writing. I am. On paper. And it's not that I'm not thinking about what ought to go up on the blog. I am. It's just that by the time I get home, all I want is a glass of wine, dinner, a book to curl up with, and a cuddle with Mike or Odie or both.

Plus, there's this weird pressure for blogging to be in real time. Maybe you know it. Things ought to feel relevant when they're published. But it's hard to devote so much time to blogging itself - the pictures, the writing, the scheduling of posts, and then find out that the government has shut down and the world gone to pot and your post suddenly seems out of place. You could let it publish anyways, or you could go back and re-write it. Usually I opt for the first option, if only because I don't remember whether I've scheduled a post or not. So it goes.

More than a month ago, Mike and I took Odie on a hike. I have no idea where we were, except that it was pretty far away from where we usually hike. And it was a National Forest...something that was wide open to the public a month ago, but not at all the last couple of days.

We stopped at a grocery store and picked up supplies for a picnic lunch - chips, cheese, salami, chocolate covered bananas, gluten-free cookies, ginger ale - the works. We were high in the mountains, so where it was still ninety degrees where we live, it was crisp and cool like fall. Like it feels now.

I had injured my foot earlier in the summer, which really put a stop to most of our hiking this summer. But Mike had identified several easy hikes that we could try. Best of all, there were lakes. We wanted to see how Odie would do around water.