What is on your fall bucket list?

 

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Are you a list maker? I am.  I have countless “to do” lists both of the handwritten and the digital variety.  Those “to-do” lists are of the mundane type.  The chores that must be done, the work projects, the grocery lists.  I decided that I wanted a fun version, thus my fall bucket list.  So here it is:

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  • replace the ferns and geraniums with mums, pansies, and pumpkins.  Add a few jack-o-lanterns for Halloween.
  • visit a pumpkin patch
  • spend time with friends finding my way through a corn maze
  • try a new fall soup recipe
  • learn to make my great grandmother’s caramel cake
  • take a drive through the mountains to see the leaves
  • Watch a scary movie
  • visit the farmers market
  • jump in a leaf pile

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That’s my bucket list.  What’s on your list?

Seasons Change from Summer to Fall: Fire Roasted Tomato Soup

I love that there are four distinct seasons of the year.  Each one is unique and leaves me with a bucket list of things to enjoy and do.  The official start of fall this week left me with a major “to do” list.  Top of the list was mums and pumpkins for the front porch to replace the geraniums and ferns I’d enjoyed all summer long.  Next up, the first pot of soup for the fall.

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I love soup and with a busy schedule it is quick and figure friendly.  I tend to make up a large pot each weekend.  It makes enough to have a weekend meal and have lunch and dinner over the next week.  For my inaugural pot of fall soup, I decided to go with an oldie but goodie – fire roasted tomato soup.  It is quick and easy.

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  • two chicken breasts cut into bite size chunks
  • two links of either chorizo or hot Italian chicken sausage
  • one large red or yellow bell pepper, diced
  • two medium onions, diced
  • olive oil
  • cilantro
  • two 28 ounce cans of fire roasted tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • large container of chicken stock or bone broth

In a large stock pot, sauté the chicken, sausage, onion, garlic, pepper, cilantro, and salt and pepper.  When the meat is done, add in tomatoes and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes.  Add in the chicken stock and cook on low for two hours.

 

It is beginning to look scary out there

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This may be my favorite time of year.  Trees are showing of their brilliance with red and gold as leave change and fall.  The are leaf piles for jumping in, corn mazes to explore and pumpkins patches to mine.  Let’s not omit the apple orchards with their bounty of delicious apples.  The air is crisp and cool causing me to reach for a coat before leaving the house.

I love walking around the town looking at the Halloween decorations.  Ghosts and pumpkins decorate the lawns and doors lending a festive, if not haunting, sense to the air in anticipation of the Feast of Samhain (if you are Irish and like the Celtic version of the holiday), or Halloween, or All Hallow’s Eve as we more traditionally think of the celebration.  It is the festival marking the end of the harvest and the beginning of winter.

Munchkins, ghosts and goblins will grace my front door on Halloween for a treat.  I love seeing the children attired in their festive costumes.  After the last visitor had received his or her treat, it is time for movie night.  For me that is my annual viewing of Halloween followed by the Fog.  Capping a wonderful night and leading to the celebration of All Saint’s Day.

Last year I spent the holiday in Ljubljana, Slovenia.  I arrived on October 31 to see a Halloween celebration in a country far away.  What was more surprising was the celebration of All Saints Day in what was once a communist country.  A national holiday, everything was closed in celebration.  Huge flower bouquets decorated the cemeteries in respect of those who passed.

In anticipation of the season, I’m heading to the pumpkin patch to pick out a pumpkin or two for decoration and carving.  Then it is time to find my receptive for stew in anticipation of a hearty Halloween dinner to be eaten in between receipt of visitors.

A change of seasons

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Yesterday I looked down at my calendar and saw the notation, “first day of autumn”.  It’s been cool here in Virginia, somewhat unusually so for the beginning of September, but it also cues a sense of anticipation, of something new to come.  I love the fall, but then again, I love winter, spring, and summer.  The change of the seasons feels like a right of passage.

I enjoy fall for its crisp cool nights, change of leaves, the fall fruits and veggies like the squash and apples I find at the farmer’s market.  What is more fun than a corn maze, mums on the front porch, or  a ride along the Blue Ridge Parkway at the height of leaf color?  As the days grow shorter and the weather cooler there is a sense of an ending as is appropriate for fall and the approach of winter.  The anticipation of spring will soon follow and start the cycle over again.

Growing up I heard stories of my grandmother changing the curtains and rugs for summer and then back again at the start of fall.  Something of that rubbed off for me.  I tend to “decorate” for Easter, fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and, of course, Christmas.  Nothing as elaborate as Christmas, but seasonal centerpieces for each holiday.  So, this week I pulled out my velvet pumpkins for the dining room table.  The geraniums I’d lovingly planted in containers on the front porch at the beginning of spring were on their last leg.  It was time to freshen up the front door with mums for fall.

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As I write this, I’m also making my “must do” list for the fall.

 

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  1. Gather a group of friends and fin a corn maze to explore.
  2. Take a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway and remember to bring my camera.
  3. Take 29 from Charlottesville to Lynchburg for a drive for leaves and fresh apples.
  4. Find a pumpkin patch and bring home fun pumpkins.
  5. Pull out my ceramic jack o’ lanterns for the front porch.
  6. Plan a movie night for all my favorite scares movies, calling John Carpenter!
  7. Football and tailgate Saturday, bonus points if I can arrange it for Kenan stadium.
  8. Cook up a pot of Brunswick stew.
  9. Change out my closet for warm clothes.

What is on your must do list for the fall?

Spaghetti Squash – a preview of fall

Squash is a favorite of mine, zucchini, yellow, and spaghetti routinely make their way into my kitchen.  Spaghetti squash is a fall favorite.  I usually serve the “noodles” from the squash with marinara or spaghetti sauce and, on occasion, I whip up a cream sauce and make an alfredo type of squash with cream, garlic, and Parmesan cheese.

Recently, I began looking for new recipes.  I wanted something different and new from my standard dinners.  I eat a lot of chicken, so I began to experiment with the concept of chicken and squash.  I ended up with this variation on chicken and spaghetti squash.

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Two chicken breasts diced in bite sized pieces

Half an onion diced

One carrot shredded

One medium tomato diced

One bell pepper diced

Fresh basil chopped

Parmesan cheese to taste

tomato pesto sauce, half a cup

Small spaghetti squash

Olive oil, salt and pepper, and Italian seasoning all to taste.

Cut the spaghetti squash in half, length wise.  Sprinkle olive oil, salt, and pepper over each half.  Place the halves open side down in a baking or oven proof dish and cook at 350 for thirty minutes. After thirty minutes, remove and permit to cool.  Once cool, remove seeds with a grapefruit spoon then, still using the grapefruit spoon, remove the squash in long noodle like strings to a bowl.

Next, in a skillet, add more olive oil, onion, chicken, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and shredded carrot.  Sauté until chicken is almost done.  Toss in the tomato and bell pepper and sauté another three minutes.  Next add in the Parmesan cheese and spaghetti squash.  Remove entire mixture to a baking dish and place in the oven on 350 for thirty minutes.

Enjoy!

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