Tag Archives: fall

Foliage

Sunday Stroll

Although the wind blew most of the leaves off of the trees last night, I was still able to find a few late this afternoon.

To see who else is strolling today, head on over to the Quiet Country House.

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Butternut Squash (or Pumpkin) Cheesecake

Last year, I had a piece of pumpkin cheesecake for the first time, and it was delicious! It got me thinking, if butternut squash pie is so good, I bet I could make a fabulous butternut squash cheesecake! I searched and found a bunch of pumpkin cheesecake recipes, then modified them, added a ginger snap crust instead of a graham cracker crust, and added extra spice.  There was a lot of discussion about how to keep the cheesecake from cracking.  My reaction: Get over it! It will taste good if it cracks anyway, so stop stressing.  My mom’s famous, delicious cheesecake that she makes for every holiday always cracks, but she tops it with cherries, blueberries or raspberries and everyone loves it.

The only drawback that I see to this recipe is that you have to use a food processor to crush the cookies (although you could do that in a big plastic bag with a rolling pin) and puree the squash, and then use the stand mixer to make the filling.  But for something that I’ll only make once or twice a year, I guess the energy is worth it.

Butternut Squash Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust

For the crust

  • 1 1/2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs (use the food processor to make them)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 Tbsp melted butter

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Combine all ingredients in a bowl, then press into the bottom of a 9″ spring-form pan.  Bake 10-12 minutes.

For the filling

  • 4 packages cream cheese (8 oz.), room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup butternut squash puree (if you want, substitute with pumpkin or any other winter squash)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature

Beat cream cheese and sugar on low speed in a stand mixer until smooth.  Blend in flour.  Add squash, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and salt and beat until smooth.  Add eggs one at a time.  Pour into crust and smooth out the top.  Reduce heat to 300°F and bake 60 minutes.  Turn off the oven and let cool for 1 hour in the oven.  Then transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 4 hours.  To serve, remove the sides from the pan, slice and garnish with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

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Filed under Food, Local Agriculture, Recipes

Pork Tenderloin with Apple Cider Gravy and Twice-Baked Butternut Squash

It’s no secret that I love to have apples with pork.  Every time I make pork chops, cutlets, or a roast, I always make fresh applesauce to go along with it, or I serve some of my home canned applesauce in a pinch.  But when I heard someone on TV making apple cider gravy, the wheels started to turn. 

Apple cider is a part of my heritage.  Actually, it’s funny that growing up I didn’t like apple cider that much.  We’d have it all the time in the fall and I’d get sick of it.  The same was true of maple syrup: when we were making it in March, I didn’t like it.  Now, I really enjoy both cider and syrup, and when I have them, it reminds me of my childhood.  My brothers and I were very little when we started helping my dad make apple cider (and tap trees, too).  I remember how loud the machines were.  We’d take big bins of apples and were always proud to say there were no “drops” (apples that fell off the tree onto the ground) in our cider.  First, the apples would be pressed to remove the juice, then my dad would take the pumice (the skins, seeds, and other pulp leftover) and either dump it in the woods or give it to my uncle to feed his cows.  It was our job to help bottle the cider.  We’d put a clean, new bottle under the spout and fill it, then remove it, put the cap on, and put it in a big wooden bin.  By the end of the day, we were all sticky with cider, bees were everywhere, and we’d help to hose off all the bottles.  When they dried, my dad would drive the forklift down the hill to the farm market and we’d stock the shelves of the cooler with the fresh cider.  Back then, our cider was always unpasteurized.  However, about 10 years ago, there were a few scares when people got E. coli from unpasteurized cider, but not from our farm.  Since we didn’t use apples that fell on the ground, they weren’t exposed to the animal waste on the ground that carries E. coli.  None the less, our customers got scared of unpasteurized cider, and we bought a big machine to pasteurize it.  While pasteurized cider will keep longer, it just doesn’t taste the same to me and to many other folks who are used to the traditional raw cider.  Now, it’s been years since I helped make cider, but every time I drink it I think of noisy machines, being sticky, and bees.

Garlic Pork Tenderloin

  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced into slivers
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Make tiny cuts all over the pork tenderloin and push the garlic slivers into them.  Rub the oil onto the tenderloin and then sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes or until cooked through.  Cover with foil and let rest for about 5 minutes before slicing.  Top with the apple cider gravy.

Apple Cider Gravy

  • 2 Tbsp butter or roast drippings
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and then mix in the flour.  Stir in the cider and chicken stock and simmer until thickened.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Twice-Baked Butternut Squash

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Split a butternut squash in half, scoop out the seeds and bake cut side down on a baking sheet for 1 hour at 350°F.  Scoop out the pulp, combine with bread crumbs, cheese, and season to taste.  Put the filling back in the shell and bake for 20 minutes until the filling is lightly browned.

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Filed under Food, Local Agriculture, Recipes, Sustainable Living, What's for Supper?

Busy, Beautiful Day

Old maple trees

Today was one of the most beautiful days this year.  It was also an incredibly busy Saturday.  Ed left to go fishing around 5am, I think, since I was not fully awake at the time… He’s trying to catch as much as he can during the season so that we’ll have a freezer full for the winter.  I got up this morning and immediately started working on the APLS Blog Carnival that I’m hosting in just a few days.  I have the job of reading all the posts, compiling them, and writing my own post with a summary of each submission.  I’m not done yet…

Then, I headed off to practice.  I’m coaching the girls’ “powderpuff” football team at my school this year.  Well, fortunately I’m assistant coaching, since my qualifications for being a coach include that I enjoy football and that my brother played for years and years and had an undefeated regular season in his senior year, followed by coming in second in the state playoffs.  I understand the rules, but I have never played.  Anyway, today was our first practice, and it was a blast.  The majority of kids are not so concerned with what position they’ll play, but are very concerned about the jerseys and what number they’ll get.  And also the fact that the homecoming dance is the weekend before our one and only game, and so they’re worried their manicures will get ruined.  My response: acrylic nails and the VOC’s from manicures are bad for the environment, so skip it.  My environmental students laughed while the others stared at me blankly…  I also made a comment about how the synthetic leather of the football was most likely petroleum based, which got the same response.

After a fun first practice of teaching the names of the positions and basic rules for flag football, I headed over to my family’s farm.  Since I’m so busy with school this year, I haven’t been able to help out as much as in previous years, and I knew they’d need my help today.  The beautiful weather meant it would be crazy at the farm.  I walked into the greenhouse and relieved my mom for a little while from the pumpkin field cash register.  I hadn’t even waited on a single customer when a woman came in and yelled at me.  She said that kids were climbing on the top of the hay maze and that it was dangerous.  I agree, I told her, and the rules are posted that nobody should be climbing.  To which she replied “I’ve asked three times and you’re not doing anything!” Again, I explained that, while I agree it’s dangerous, no, you have not asked me three times.  I just got here.  And I can’t leave the cash register, but I will send someone out there immediately.  Fortunately, I was able to flag down my mother to go out and, in her best elementary school teacher persona, get the kids off the top of the maze.  Their own parents were watching them run around, and doing nothing about the fact their kids were breaking the rules and endangering others and themselves.  Apparently, bloody noses and kids crying are all part of the fall trip to the farm experience.  And so is some lady yelling at me for no reason.  What I really want to say to her is “Hey lady, why don’t you just ask their parents to get them down.  I’m not just some cashier you can yell at.  I’m a certified teacher and my family owns this place.”  But I just smiled and told her I’d take care of it.  It’s very frustrating to be treated so disrespectfully when I’m used to being respected at school, but everyone in my family knows the reality of the fall.  People will come to our home, be demanding and often rude, but generally enjoy themselves and spend money.  We’ll thank them and hope that they come back again so we can keep the farm afloat.  I just try to remember to always be as nice as I can to cashiers, wait staff, and everyone who does the kind of job that is too often unappreciated.

After the maze incedent, the atmosphere got better, I waited on customers who were polite or at least didn’t yell at me, weighed a whole bunch of pumpkins, and sent families out into the apple orchard.  Then, I helped my brothers push a car out of the mud.  They’d been hanging around and pushing cars when needed, as the paved part of the lot was full and cars had to park in the field.  We laughed when someone who was clearly stuck in the mud refused our help.  No, he didn’t want my brother to get a tractor and pull him out.  He would call and wait for a tow truck instead.  He was still waiting when I left.

Cars lined up in the big field at the stand

Kids play on the hay maze

While I was out, Ed worked on getting our old wood stove ready for the winter and painting the ballusters for our stairs.  We had wanted to buy a new wood stove this year, but we just aren’t going to be able to afford it.  I think spring will probably be the best time to find a good price, anyway.  I can’t say I’m upset I missed the painting…

Ballusters

This evening, we went to Ed’s parents’ house to celebrate Melissa’s birthday.  We made pizzas together and it was a lot of fun.  Ed and I gave her a mum and a pumpkin to celebrate.  Happy 30th Melis!

When I got home I was in a cleaning mood (I know, I was shocked, too).  I organized the mudroom and kitchen, cleaned the counters and the stainless steel appliances, organized the coffee table stuff including an explosion of magazines and various knitting projects.  I then decided to come here and write about my day.  Tomorrow will be a lot of the same, with practice and the farm in the afternoon. 

On Monday, I have a day off school but Ed will be working.  I have a whole bunch of tests to grade, so hopefully the weather will be nice enough to allow me to do my grading outside.

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Beach Visit on the Last Day of September

My mom and I took advantage of our day off work today to go visit Rocky Neck State Park.  I had never been there before, but my mom attended a wedding there recently.  The beach was beautiful, with whitish sand and not very many people.  The sun moved in and out of the clouds, and it was breezy but not cold.  Perfect weather for a visit to the beach on the last day of September.  This will most likely be our last day at the beach until spring.

 There’s a tunnel under the railroad tracks that leads to the beach.

The seagulls, as usual, were tame and not afraid of us.

A piece of green sea glass to add to my collection.

Pretty yellow flowers were in bloom, contrasting the gray tones of the sand, water and sky.

The bright pink beach rose was a happy sight, and only a few blooms are left this late in the season.

The pavilion is made from field stones and looks out on the ocean.  It was built during the 1930’s.

The view from the pavilion.

A red-tailed hawk perched in a tree and was not afraid of us as we moved closer to take his picture.

We probably take the beach for granted, since we live close enough to visit whenever we want.  We usually only go a few times each summer, but every year we make plans to visit often.  Walking along the empty beach on a Tuesday really made me appreciate the beauty that waits for us to stroll by.

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Transition

Sunday Stroll

August 31, 2008

Walking around this morning, I couldn’t help but notice that we’re in transition.  While some views show a bountiful summer, others make me realize that we’re leaving summer and heading to fall.

The roses are more abundant than ever before.

The roses are more abundant than ever before.

Clear blue skies and a bright yellow sunflower.

Clear blue skies and a bright yellow sunflower.

Prolific sunflowers.

Prolific sunflowers.

Morning glories blooming on top of each other.

Morning glories blooming on top of each other.

Frilly red lettuce.

Frilly red lettuce.

Bright green and blue-green lichen.

Bright green and blue-green lichen.

Warmth this winter.

Warmth for the winter.

An old antler that appeared on the edge of the woods.

An old antler that appeared on the edge of the woods.

 To see who else is strolling today, visit The Quiet Country House.

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