Monday, September 16, 2013

Anticipating Fall

RHYS BOWEN: This week officially marks the end of summer.  And if you’re like me you’re asking yourself once again “Where did summer go?”  What happened to all those times I planned to take a picnic and a book and sit in the shade beside the water?  And all those al-fresco twilight dinners?  And days at the beach? 

 I did go on a nice long trip with a cruise to Turkey, Egypt and Greece so I can’t really complain, but I’m mad at myself for the wasted little escapes I could have snuck into my days instead of checking Facebook and my Amazon stats one more time.

And this Saturday it is fall. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. Some people love it and look forward  to the crispness in the air, the ripe apples on the tree, the change of seasons. Not me. I have always found fall rather depressing—heralding the onset of blustery rain, short dark days and a long winter ahead. And as I get older the symbolism of fall takes on the quality of a Robert Frost poem. I must harvest the apples before it is too late and winter sets in.   More and more people that I know have become incapacitated or even died.  I don’t want to face that reality, so I escape from winter, retreating to my condo in Arizona where there is sunshine all year.

So I’m trying to think about the positive—what do I love about fall? The colors in places like New England are spectacular. Here in California not much changes color. I enjoy fresh local apples. And hearty soups. I look forward to Thanksgiving and the whole holiday season. But apart from that, let it be eternal summer.
What about you? What do you like about fall?   

LUCY BURDETTE: I too am asking where the summer went Rhys! Though I have to say I mind fall much less since we've started spending the winter in Key West. It's fun to see the spring break through the winter--but living through months of snow and ice and cold temps is a killer for me. 

Things to love about fall? Yes the colors in New England are magnificent! And as a kid, I always loved going back to school, so it still has that feeling for me. On the other hand, summer food has it all over winter--I'll take a tomato with basil over a root vegetable any day!

 ROSEMARY: The clothing. I'm a boots gal and after months of pretending I like sandals I'm ready to pull the cowboy boots back on! (I can also stop wondering if my toes are attractive.) Jackets, sweaters....I'm there.
Also love the smells - apples, cinnamon, pumpkin, burning leaves, fireplaces. That crisp feel in the air - it's energizing. I'm ready to go back to school! (metaphorically..)

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: OH, me, too, Ro. Turtlenecks and and tweed jackets and TIGHTS, I love tights. I go through the summer with my legs freezing half the time. (Gripe gripe gripe.) To go outside and it's gorgeous, especially here in New England. I saw leaf fall the other day!
 And yes, Rhys, it is a little poignant. If I hear "Try to Remember" I might be a little melancholy.
 But hey! Better to think about apples and new books and Thanksgiving and what I'm going to be for Halloween. (I think I will dress up as an author asleep on the couch.)

HALLIE EPHRON: Like everything else, for me it's about the food. 
We'll have our last caprese salad, prosciutto and melon, lobster and corn on the cob and get back to roasting chicken and making soup and chili. This year I'm looking for really good vegetarian recipes that have rich flavor and bite to them.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I suppose the New Year is the more logical place to think about new beginnings, but for me it's that first hint of autumn.  Ro, yes, it's the whole back-to-school thing. Funny how that never goes away.  I love boots (time to switch to fall nail polish, even if no one will be seeing my toes,) and sweaters and tights.  And FOOD!  Soups and stews and chili. Roasts. I can use my oven with dying from heat exhaustion.  I can't wait! In fact, I just ordered a new soup cookbook, called Sunday Soup.

But my very favorite thing is the first fire in our fireplace, and our first Friday night movie in front of the fire.

(Least favorite thing? Dealing with the mounds of leaves dropped by all our trees...)



  1. There’s much to enjoy about autumn:
    Fall colors, fireplaces and the sharp scent of wood smoke, soup, macaroni and cheese, baking bread . . . .
    Autumn days are just right for open windows and screen doors and fresh air, sweaters . . . .
    Unfortunately, it’s far too brief, and then it’s drifted away like the falling leaves . . . .

  2. Fall! My favorite time of year yet so fleeting. I grew up in Upstate NY and it was all about Fall there. Love the leaves falling and fires to be lit and all the comfort food to be made. I live in an old farmhouse and love lighting the kitchen fireplace and cooking all day (to finish with a Bloody Mary in my rocking chair by the fire!). It's a time of the world going to sleep to re-awaken after a long winter. Love all your Fall faves here too - rekindles lovely memories!

  3. I hate summer and love fall. I do a lot of walking in the fall, to make up for summer when I wimp out. This past weekend, I bought a pair of boot liners and two pairs of fleece-lined tights. Not that I'm jumping the gun or anything....

    Right outside my office window is a Japanese maple. I am waiting for the first red leaf. After that tree turns, at the end of the day, the room is bathed in red light.

  4. Autumn is my absolute favorite time of year. For all the reasons that you all stated not the least of which is the photogenic landscapes. But even more than that is the joy of being able to step outside and not feel like I'm breathing through soup. I'm more likely to have cabin fever in the summer, trying to avoid the high humidity, than in the winter. Fall is freedom. :)

  5. I love fall! Its, by far, my favorite time of year. (Although I am dreading the frost forecast for tonight - I'm not quite THAT ready.)

    I've always loved "football clothes." Kilts and knee socks, corduroy skirts and tights, sweaters and loafers. I'm reliving my college years, aren't I?

    And I agree with Rosemary. It's nice not having to worry about how long it's been since the last pedicure.

    One downside - the traffic around our area as leaf-peepers come to enjoy the lovely colors of autumn in Maine. But I'm okay with sharing the gorgeous views. They'll all be white before too long.

  6. Soup, cool and crisp and sunny days, wool clothing, and the colors. Especially the colors, which change constantly this time of year.

    It's been very cool here in Cincinnati; the temps went from 93 last week (they had to close some non-air-conditioned schools) to 40 the other night. I found some freshly pulled leeks at the farmers market on Saturday so decided to make leek and potato soup with some of the potatoes from my garden. Just the right thing for a chilly evening.

    Here's the recipe, which is easy, and fast, and vegetarian, Hallie:

    Leek & Potato Soup
    From Microwave Gourmet, by Barbara Kafka (comments are hers, unless otherwise specified)
    This is the French mother’s equivalent of chicken soup. If you are cold and tired, try it. You’ll feel better soon. Serves 4.
    2 small all-purpose potatoes (3/4 pound), peeled and diced
    1 C diced leeks, about 2 medium leeks, (white parts and about 1 inch of the green)
    2 C chicken broth
    1 C heavy cream (Karen’s note: I use 1% milk)
    2 T butter
    Kosher salt
    Freshly ground pepper
    Place potatoes, leeks, and 1 cup of the broth in an 8-cup glass measure or bowl. Cover tightly and cook at 100% power in the microwave for 12 minutes.
    Remove from oven. Uncover and pass through a food mill fitted with a medium disc, or through a potato ricer (K’s note: I use an immersion, or stick, blender). Stir in cream/milk, butter, and remaining 1 cup broth. Season with salt and pepper. Heat in a 2-quart soufflé dish, covered tightly, for 5 minutes. Serve piping hot.
    From Karen: You can use more potatoes and leeks, but be careful about adding more broth, so it doesn’t get too soupy. It’s also not necessary to completely blend the potatoes; it’s nice to have some chunks. This reminds me strongly of the old frozen Campbell’s potato soup we used to have when I was a kid. I use red potatoes because they seem to have the best flavor.

  7. Donna Galanti's Bloody Mary got me thinking about seasons and drinks... and for me Bloody Marys are summer food. (Or Sunday morning...) In the fall it's sherry and red wine. But I can enjoy a Cosmo any day of the year.

    What was weird this year was how much August felt like fall.

  8. August did indeed feel like fall this year, and despite last week's odd weather, mid-September is starting to feel like early October.

    This morning I perseverated about what shoes to wear. It's too chilly here in Portland, Maine for sandals, but I'm not emotionally ready for shoes and socks. I went with loafer type shoes with no socks. But soon even they will have to be packed away . . .

    Love the soup/stew season, and the fact that it is time to pull out the crock pot. There's nothing like walking into the house on a cool evening and inhaling the scent of supper that has cooked itself during the workday.

  9. Karen, thank you for the leek and potato soup recipe. Strangely enough I made leek and potato soup this weekend, as I had leeks I needed to use up. I love it. So comforting and tastes filling when it doesn't have many calories. Now I have to try yours.

  10. I love the air and the light of autumn. Although I live on Cape Cod, I am more of a mountain/forest gal than a beach person.

  11. All the fall lovers on this blog! Denise, I'm crazy for Cape Cod in the fall--so much less crowded. I need to get back there...

    Ramona, love the red light coming in through your window...

    Donna and Hallie, I'll take a bloody Mary any time of year. But made from scratch is so much better than any mix.

    The perfect prelude to karen's soup!

  12. Lucy, you mean there is such a thing as Bloody Mary mix??? Blasphemy! Although maybe not as bad as margarita mix, which tastes like lime Kool Aid...

    Karen, thanks for the leek and potato soup recipe! Yum. Making it when I get back from B'con.

    Tonight I'm making Hungarian Green Bean soup, as my produce share on Saturday had enough green beans to feed an army. Another nice thing about fall here in North Texas--the last flush of summer produce as the weather cools a little bit. We'll have summer veggies well into October.

  13. Hallie, I made this Etruscan grape bread over the weekend because it got cold here and I needed to heat up the kitchen. It is from a friend of mine, Judy Witts Francine, who runs culinary tours of Tuscany and Sicily from her home in Certaldo, Italy.

    I thought it would be good right out of the oven-- and it was-- but it was even better after it had cooled, and got better by the hour (sort of like spaghetti sauce does). And it is vegetarian (unless you consider yeast a living thing, which it technically is, but there are limits, right?).

  14. I enjoy fall, but I'm with Rhys on the increasing bittersweet feel it has as I get older. It's always been the season of endings for me.

    I try to focus on the good things of fall, also. A brisk morning walk through the trees as they change color. Baking goodies that I put off during the summer, so I wouldn't tax the air conditioner. Slow-cooked meals that make the house smell wonderful all day. And soup.

    I love soup and I love having a reason to get people together to socialize. 8 years ago I invited friends over for a Stone Soup party in October. I provided the soup stock and everyone had to bring ingredients for the pots. We had games for our kids, who were in grade school then. A fire on the patio. And apple cider. It has become a tradition that has continued, with anywhere from 25-35 people in attendance. This year we will have our 8th Annual Stone Soup open house. It gives everyone something to look forward to in the fall. And then it's time to plan Thanksgiving!

  15. I love fall -- the back-to-school feeling and the crisp air and hiding my always-pale legs under tights again. Speaking of tights, just bought a couple of cool pair that I'm bringing to Bouchercon. Yippee!

    Summer in Portland, OR, is magical, I have to say. It's our secret, and, Rhys, I too am mad at myself for not enjoying it more. Seems like all I did was work and be stressed out.

    But fall is like New Year, so I'm starting fresh.


  16. We just returned from a week at the beach and it was the perfect way to say goodbye to summer.

    Our first evening back in Boone, it was 46 degrees, the perfect way to say hello to fall.

    What I love best about fall is - -

    Getting out my boots!

    And the food - hearty soups, chili, stews, yum yum.

  17. Fall is my favorite season, maybe because I'm a November baby. It brings the promise of cooler weather in a few weeks, changing colors, new school year for kids. My energy to do things will return with the cooler weather, along with a desire to start cooking and baking again.

  18. I'm with Rhys; I hate fall. Yes, it is pretty but the beauty soon fades, the landscape becomes stark, I am never warm enough when it's time to start adding layers of clothing. Adding layers seems unnatural! Getting through fall is like sitting at the deathbed of a loved one, knowing the end of something good and beautiful is coming. And then there will be darkness and bone-aching cold. I used to like fall and hated only the winter season. Now that I have orthopedic issues that put me at risk on icy surfaces, I can't enjoy fall, knowing the weather will get dangerous for me before very long. I make trips out to the dumpster only when I have to leave the house for something, unless the parking lot is totally free of ice and snow.

    As for food and drink, I eat and drink hot and cold foods and drinks all year round. I don't make changes based on the season or the weather. I love spring and I LOVE summer; the warm weather energizes me and just does not last long enough. I also feel FREE when it's warm out. My earliest memory of being happy and KNOWING I was happy is of the five year old Deb, outside with my friends on a June morning,wearing shorts and a tee shirt. The air was soft on my skin. Something inside me told me "this is the way life is supposed to be!"

  19. I love fall, but mostly for the "idea" of fall. Here in the Bay Area in California, our hottest time of year is often October. Our summers are often freezing cold, with the fog hanging in until early afternoon. People in our area tend to pretend the weather is beautiful in summer, when actually turtlenecks and boots would be more appropriate. And then fall...when I'd like to wear boots, my feet would get hot. So I'm taking boots to Bourchercon and hoping for cool weather, because when I get back it will be time to pull out the shorts and sandals!

    By the way Deb, I love Sunday Soup--came to me by way of Susan Shea.

  20. I love fall, it has always been my favorite time of year. When I was young, it was because school was starting. I loved school, strange ?? Especially college, nothing was better than being on campus in the fall.
    Now I love cooking pot roast, baking a chicken, making soup, baking bread and coffeecakes. . .actually wanting to turn the oven on and not worrying about the house getting hot.
    Plus I love changing out my house, different throw pillows, adding "fall" decor, while putting away the more summery items. Needing a warm, soft throw to curl up in, but still leaving the doors open.
    Somewhere in there is changing out the closets, getting out the boots, socks, sweaters, and my favorite sweatshirts.

  21. The older i get the more I appreciate Fall and Winter. I enjoy the leaves most when they are just barely past peak and living in New England I get lot of that. I also enjoy winter now that I can stay inside in front of the fireplace with a book when it snows! With homemade soup and bread cooking!

  22. Ellen Kozak, I know Judy Witts Francini! What a small world.

    Judy was our tour guide on my one and only trip to Italy, and she took us to Dario's butcher shop the day he was interviewed about his "funeral for the bistecca". I and the other women in our little group ended up on Italian TV that night.

    When a friend and her husband were planning a trip to Tuscany I recommended they get in touch with Judy, and they ended up staying in her farmhouse.

    Have you ever made the Yellow Pepper Soup from Cibreo? That recipe is also on the Divina Cuccina site, and is one of my fall staples. I often use orange peppers instead and serve it for my Halloween parties. It's also a vegetarian recipe, although a lot more fiddly than the leek and potato one:

    Cibrèo's Yellow Bell Pepper Soup
    (Passato di Peperoni Gialli)

    4 yellow bell peppers
    3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, left whole
    1 red onion
    1 medium carrot
    1 stalk celery
    1 bay leaf
    1 cup extra virgin olive oil
    4 cups vegetable broth
    12 croutons of fried bread (for garnish)
    4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

    Finely chop the carrot, onion, and celery into a tiny dice. Sauté slowly in olive oil until the vegetables begin to turn golden.

    Wash the bell peppers; remove the seeds and any white veins on the inside. Cut into quarters and place in the pot to cook with the whole potatoes. Add the broth, and if necessary, water to cover. Cook for 45 minutes and then purée. In Italy they use a food mill to remove and skin and seeds, and then an immersion blender to purée. If it seems too thick, add more water. If the bell peppers seem a little acidic, add 1 cup milk. Heat with a bay leaf, but do not let boil.

    Remove the bay leaf before serving. Garnish with croutons fried in extra virgin olive oil. Put a drizzle of olive oil and the parmesan in a small pile in the center of the soup.

    In season, Fabio Picchi of Cibrèo does this as a pumpkin soup, garnishing the soup with crushed amaretti cookies!

  23. Dropping in like a falling leave to add my two cents.

    I love fall colors, fall clothing (so forgiving! And warm! and fall football, from the Alabama Crimson Tide to the Bonny Eagle Scots (our local high school team.) This year, Ross and I are looking forward to seeing Trinity football when we go down to Hartford for Parents' Weekend. We certainly love visiting out eldest's college for her Family Weekend, but I must admit the Smith football team is somewhat lacking.

    What I love most? The return of fall cooking. Fresh-baked bread, stews, root vegetables, home-made can see why I need forgiving clothes.

  24. I love all these recipes! We should write a Jungle Reds cookbook.

  25. Fall means cooler weather, sweaters, stews, soups, beautiful leaves and the coming b-day included! Crisp air, no a/c....I could go on and on!

  26. Autumn's my favorite season. To me, it's a time of new beginnings. My birthday's in October, so fall's the start of my personal year. Also, it spells the end of terrible heat and humidity (hard on my asthma). I prefer fall clothes and fall food. I hardly cook in summer--too hot. Fall's the time for baking. My energy levels go up. Etc. Etc.

  27. Hands down for me-i t's a fire in tbe fireplace. I love cozy! Molly Campbell

  28. I can hardly *wait* for summer to skedaddle!! Although there are many things I do enjoy about the season (fabulous fresh fruit, our community pool being open, and BBQ to name a few) the heat just destroys me. I'm from San Francisco, and grew up a mile away from the beach, but Northern California summers, and even autumns, were not as hot in the 50s and 60s as they are now. When the temperatures get above 80 degrees I get physically ill.

    So autumn is my season. Here in the Santa Cruz Mountains we have our own microclimate, which often reflects the marine climate and cools things off beautifully. I can hike without risking heat stroke. Then there's 49er football, oftentimes Giants postseason baseball (sadly, not this year), and Thanksgiving, which is a time we get together with family and extended family.

  29. I miss fall back home in Salem and Marblehead. I love the colors, and I let go of sailing and swimming in exchange for snow play and sport. If I can no longer do it, I find or invent a new way or enjoy watching. I will go back to stay sometime, because it is home. I like the change of seasons and the anticipation of the next. Here in Arizona, beautiful as it is, there is a sameness that seems to go on forever. that's an illusion, yet so is the other. The metaphors that invigorate me are no more real than those that don't—except that they work for me.