Happy November…and cheers to a most wonderful holiday season!
Archive for the ‘Autumn’ Category
Nashville was fun! Super FUN! My only regret is that the time passed too quickly…our 3 days flew by but I know it’s because we were all having a great time!
It started the second we got off the plane…Remember that film I shared with you a few months ago about the guy with MS and his girlfriend who, after hearing about his symptoms and how scared he was about his unknown future, looked him in the eye and said, “I’m In” to show her unyielding support? In an extremely touching display, my family (including my sister’s girlfriend, Martha) met us at the airport wearing matching “I’m In” shirts that they had made for me! Needless to say, I was beyond touched and felt 100% supported and loved! This meant so much to me!!! How wonderful is my support network??!
eating (a lot of eating!) Gulf shrimp and cheese grits, biscuits with sorghum, chicken and dumplings, fried pickles and BBQ (I had a pulled pork sandwich with pimento cheese and an over easy egg- I took a photo before digging in! And, yes, it was really good!)
enjoying the pumpkins, scarecrows, trains, and flowers at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and Art Museum
drinking locally brewed beer, celebrating Jack’s birthday with an AMAZING party which will, deservedly, get a post by itself, and cheering on the Gators to victory against Vanderbilt at an all day tailgate and Jack’s first football game!
A special thanks to Auntie Jessica, Nonna, and Pops for making our trip extra special! Birthday party post coming later this week!
I apologize that my posting has not been prolific this week…We are off to Nashville and I have been busy preparing for the trip!
I cannot tell you how excited the 3 of us are to visit family and to be back in the South for a few days! My wonderful sister has planned a fun-filled three days of yummy BBQ, a southern breakfast, a birthday party for Jack!!!, a Gator football game, and SEC style tailgating (you know the type that has an elaborately planned menu served on a table-clothed and fully decorated table with games like corn hole and more beverages than is good for you)!
I will be back with photo updates and, of course, recipes next week.
For now, enjoy the pumpkin photos while you savor the Autumn weather!
If my latest posts on crabbing and apple picking were not enough to convince you that we live in some sort of fairytale land where many different amazing vacations can be found within a two hour radius of our home, let me share with you our latest camping adventure…
We spent the weekend at Deception Pass on Whidbey Island with some of our most favorite friends. Driving through the National Park, we twisted through narrow roads lined with tall, immense evergreens that created a feeling of entering a lush tree cave. The dense forest was surrounded by rocky, dark sanded beaches with amazing views of the surrounding mountains, including snow capped Mt Baker. The temperatures ranged from the 40s to the 60s as either the sun or the moon, which was one day from being full, shined down upon us.
We played on the beach, made amazingly delicious food in several Dutch ovens including American Chop Suey, Herb Biscuits, Apple Crisp, and Egg and Sausage Breakfast Burritos, kept warm by a roaring campfire, and nearly finished 4 bottles of wine as we talked long after the kiddos were asleep. In the morning, we awoke to really dense fog, yet as we played on the beach it magically lifted to reveal sunshine and clear skies…photos of Jack on the foggy morning beach in a later post this week. They are some of our favorite photos of Jack to date, so in our completely biased eyes they deserve a post by themselves.
The weekend was immensely fun. A truly perfect way to (reluctantly) wrap up camping for the year. And, we could not have shared it with better company- thank you Amy, Phil, Hanna, and Britta for so much fun! And, thank you, Phil, for some of the amazing photos seen here.
Last Sunday, before driving back to Seattle, we spent the afternoon picking apples at the most lovely Bellewood Acres. It was a beautiful fall day that produced a chill with the breeze yet warmth with the sun. A long tractor train carried us eager pickers out into the apple orchard past the pumpkin patches and cows and horses grazing in their fields.
There were rows upon rows of apple trees all bearing beautiful red fruit yet due to the ripening calendar, we were limited in picking only the Tsugaru variety, which the farm describes as “a gourmet dessert apple rated among the best eating apples of Japanese heritage”. I might have to say that they rate among the best eating apples EVER. Crunchy, juicy (the juice pops into your face when you cut or bite into it!), and candy sweet. They are so very good that I thought the 10 pounds we picked would be more than enough, but I personally am eating 2 or 3 per day! I had to set aside the necessary 8 that are required for a Dutch oven apple crisp we will be making over the campfire with friends this weekend!
I am learning quickly, being in the land of apples aplenty, that there is nothing better than the first taste of Autumn’s apple. Choosing the perfect one from the tree, biting into its skin to reveal a flesh that is gleaming white, and savoring the taste while the juice splashes around my tongue. The first taste of the season’s apple may be almost as paramount as a first kiss…it’s good. Really good.
We left the orchard not only with apples, but also with peanut butter made right on the farm. I have found the pairing of homemade peanut butter and a fresh, sweet Tsugaru apple to be perfectly divine. As our supply quickly dwindles, I know I will be calling upon our wonderful CSA to replenish our cravings and, perhaps, trying to squeeze another apple picking outing into one of our already busy fall weekends. At the very least, a trip to Bellewood Acres will become an annual fall tradition!
I found the image last year and, unfortunately, the link no longer works to give credit where credit is due…but, it was created by Nature’s Art and they state: “Natural leaf carving is actual manual cutting and removal of a leaf’s surface to produce an art work on a leaf. The process of carving is performed by artists using tools to carefully remove the surface without cutting or removing the veins.” Stunning, no?!
And, now for some more real goodness…a simple, healthy, homemade breakfast bar using few ingredients! It’s perfect for a weekday morning, a toddler breakfast, a picnic breakfast food, or an afternoon snack. We’ve used them this week for all of those things and they were met with high approval.
Banana Oat Breakfast Bars
adapted from thekitchn.com
2 large, very ripe bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 cup pitted, chopped dried dates
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
Generous sprinkle of cinnamon
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×9-inch square baking dish with butter.
Peel the bananas and mash them in a medium mixing bowl. Mash very thoroughly until no large chunks remain; the bananas will turn liquidy. Stir in the vanilla. Add the oats and stir them in. Then, stir in the salt, dates, hazelnuts, and cinnamon.
Spoon and pat the mixture evenly into the baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes or unti the edges just begin to brown and crisp up.
Allow the bars to cool before enjoying with a glass of milk or an iced coffee…mmm!
Just cover the baking dish tightly with foil and store in the refrigerator. Will be good for at least 5 days, if they last that long!