Category Archives: Fall

Witness to the Fall Symphony

FALL SPILLS FROM NATURE’S SPIGOT, and robust reds, rust, yellow, bronze and cinnamon hues tumble out, painting the landscape low to high. The transformative symphony shouts to us like a toddler seeking his mother’s attention!  Look! Watch me!

AN ONGOING EXPLOSION of  sights and sounds fires our passion and stirs memories of our youth in the embrace of our family. Now listen!  The wind whooshes and the seasonal dance accelerates, then slows and picks up tempo again. Leaves twist and turn in the wind as the trees let go of warm weather attire that hid nests and wooded retreats.  Each step through the leafy carpet adds a crunch and snap to the Fall harmony of sights and sounds. Walking here is meditative…heart rates slow and endorphins soar.

THE MARCH TO THANKSGIVING BEGINS!

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TODAY, I AM THANKFUL  I am here in this place and time to witness the ushering in of the Fall season once again.

Sue Marquis Bishop 2015

Pumpkins Everywhere in Oatmeal, Smoothies, and …?

IT’S FALL!  PUMPKINS ARE EVERYWHERE, ..and they  offer so much more, than jack-0-lanterns for Halloween, and pie for Thanksgiving.  Aside from decorating our front entrances and hearths, pumpkins can be enjoyed in so many sweet and savory foods…and it seems they are healthy too!

THE TEMPERATURE WAS IN THE HIGH 60’S  and sunny early this morning… a great morning for oatmeal. As I opened the pantry to prepare breakfast, I noticed a can of Libby’s pure pumpkin puree. The label on the can suggests pumpkin is chock full of vitamins.  Pumpkin is an “excellent source of vitamin A and fiber” and is very low in fat (no trans fat or saturated fat), only “4 g sugar and no preservatives” added.  That’s a lot of healthy beta-carotene!

WHY NOT PUMPKIN OATMEAL?   I added a couple of tablespoons pureed pumpkin to each bowl, along with raisins, walnuts and a sprinkle of brown sugar.  Pumpkin oatmeal,  orange juice, whole wheat toast, coffee and the morning paper.  What a comforting way to begin a Fall day!

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AFTER AN AFTERNOON WALK walk with our dog Bear, I enjoyed an icy… rich tasting… pumpkin smoothie.
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
2 Tablespoons almond butter
1/4 tsp almond  flavoring
1 scoop vanilla slimfast protein powder
dash of pumpkin spice and Splenda
ice cubes
After blending,  a dash of grated nutmeg was added on top.   Hmmm. So refreshing.

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WHEN I WENT GROCERY SHOPPING LATER at Trader Joe’s store, I found that pumpkins had taken over the store! There was pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie, pumpkin salsa, pumpkin corn bread, pumpkin pita bread, pumpkin cereal, pumpkin cream cheese, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin latte coffee, pumpkin ravioli.  pumpkin muffin mix, pumpkin waffles, pumpkin butter, …and more.  WOW. I had no idea.

I PLAN TO KEEP SOME CANS of pumpkin puree on hand this Fall to see where the pumpkin inspiration takes me.  For now, it’s time to savor the transition to Fall and plan a weekend in the beautiful North Carolina mountains.

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Sue Marquis Bishop 2015

Butternut Squash Soup for an October Lunch with Friends

Fall is in the air in the Carolinas and it’s the perfect time for making hearty soups and arranging friendly gatherings.  One of my favorite soups this time of year is butternut squash soup.

My sister-in-law Yvonne is visiting from Kentucky and we invited our friend Barbara to join us for lunch.  The table is set in the breakfast room to enjoy the outside view from the adjacent Carolina Room.

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I love to make hearty soups… seems like magic to add, blend and stir…and  end up with something new and warm to enjoy. I make it differently each time based on what I have available and want to try.  This is the soup for this day.

1 large onion, minced

4 garlic cloves

1 Tablespoon butter and splash of olive oil

Wash and slice one large onion and sauté in a splash of olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter.  (Adding minced pieces of celery is optional.) When the onion is nearly translucent, add 4 garlic cloves, salt and pepper and heat for a few minutes longer..

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In a large pot, whisk together squash, vegetable stock, honey and cornstarch. When well mixed, set pot on heat and bring to a boil, whisking occasionally.

1 can butternut squash

1 large carton vegetable stock (broth) (chicken stock OK too)

1/4 cup honey

1 Tablespoon cornstarch

1 Tablespoon butter

1 cup cooked carrots, sliced  (or one can of carrots with liquid)

1 large white potato, previously baked and cut in bite size chunks

Spices: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, thyme, curry

When squash mixture boils, add cooked onions and garlic, cooked carrots, baked potato, butter and spices. Begin adding spices at 1/4 teaspoon and increase to get the flavor you prefer.  Use a pinch of curry, as a little goes a long way.  (I use curry with 2-3  basil leaves stored in the big curry jar to infuse savory basil flavor… as suggested by my dear Chinese friend Leai).

When the soup returns to a boil, turn heat to medium-low and let it simmer for about 20-30 minutes to blend flavors. The last couple of minutes on the heat, gently whisk in the milk. . Serve soup with a tiny sprinkling of nutmeg to enhance the aroma. Serve with great breads and crackers and a tossed salad with strawberries or other fruit.

The breadbasket for this meal holds raisin bread, pumpkin bread (not the sweet bread) and crackers. (I crocheted an edge on some material I liked for napkins.  I think it adds a nice touch.  I don’t do any fancy crocheting… just the basics.)

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What could  be  better  than  homemade  squash  soup, a sunny Fall day and  good conversation with friends. CIMG2181

Sue Marquis Bishop 2014

Come Walk With Me in November

COME WITH ME on a two mile walk on the Greenway – and on a short cut back home.

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Entrance to Greenway
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WE GREET SEVERAL WALKERS, although it’s early for the late afternoon walkers. Everyone we pass waves and smiles, and some stop to chat briefly – such is the way in the South. We meet so many interesting folks this way.

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THE LEAVES RUSTLE like twisting saran wrap and we leave the path to walk among them. My husband says it reminds him of childhood memories of Rice Krispies – snap, crackle, pop.

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WE PASS SEVERAL PEOPLE on bicycles. We decide to bring our bicycles next time for a real workout.

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WE EXIT THE GREENWAY to our shortcut street back home (This leg of the greenway continues on for 15 miles.)

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WE MEET A COLLEGE STUDENT walking her new puppy. The dog’s name is Tansy and is a rescue dog from one of the Native American reservations out West. I remember reading about the great need to adopt dogs since the economy has been struggling. Many families in America and Europe have been forced to give up their pet animals (dogs, and even horses) because they could no longer afford to feed them.

WE NOTE THAT THE COLOR OF THE DOG’S FUR appears to match exactly the beautiful red hair of his mistress. We comment about it and she laughs – “I know,” she says. (Sorry, she didn’t want her picture taken.)

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AS WE APPROACH THESE TREES, they remind me of candles lit from within and burning bright – or multi-color pom poms at a football game. I don’t know what kind of trees they are, but I call them candle trees when we see them on our walk.

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A LONELY SCARECROW left over from Halloween keeps vigil over his family’s house.

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Almost back home.
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HOME AGAIN, I work on menus for Thanksgiving – as I enjoy a slice of pumpkin bread and hot tea.

Sue Marquis Bishop 2013

WHAT COULD BE A BETTER TIME-OUT THAN A WALK? DO YOU AGREE?

Fall in the City of Trees, Crockpot Roast, Limoncello Cupcakes and a Dog Named Casey

I am continuing daily blogs in November toward the goal of sharing some of the recipes and traditions in our family for 100 years during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. I welcome your sharing of traditions and comments about the blog topic.  

Today was a semi-cloudy election day in Charlotte, NC.  We will have a new mayor tomorrow.  The trees are  nearing peak here.  So spectacular that we saw Fall colors come alive in the mountains and then come home to the city and see Fall come again…. Awesome!

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THIS SCENE IS NEAR MY HOME in Charlotte, North Carolina, and on the path of our two mile walk we travel several times a week. Most of our walking is on the greenway, but we take this shortcut through a nearby street to our house.  My parents lived in an apartment near here when they sold their Indiana home and moved to be closer to family.  Each time I walk it, in my mind’s eye I see Dad, walking his dog Casey down this street. I put my thoughts about them into a poem.

CASEY
You came into his life when his need for you was great –
at mandatory retirement age, he couldn’t envision
life without work at the electric power plant.
You arrived in a box just after his 70th birthday,
a tail-wagging, face-licking snauser –
and he named you Casey.

Your demands were few – Alpo, TLC and exercise,
he gave you plenty of each and
you gave him reason to look forward to the day.
Your daily walks kept him in shape.
You slept on his shoes while he played solitaire,
then wrestled on the floor, followed by
an afternoon nap with you tucked under his arm.
When bath time rolled around
you hit the showers together.
You stood patiently in the shower stall
after your bath, waiting for him to shower.

He loved music, and you learned to sing with him
pointing your nose in the air and howling along
as he sang your favorite song, “Home on the Range”.
You rode in the Lincoln on his daily errands
even sleeping in the car while he attended
Presbyterian church with Ina.
He slipped food to you under the table, although
as a young father his children were forbidden
from feeding pets at the dinner table.

Your master entered his 8th decade of life –
you grew old in dog years and slept
at his feet for the last time –
while his memories dimmed with dementia.
He missed the faithful companion
who had enriched his life –
– as long as he could remember you.

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This is one corner of our back yard, as seen from the back of our house.  Charlotte is known as the city of trees and we have our share t enjoy.

It is now November and I am engaged in planning our calendar for the coming holidays.   I am also getting out some of the decorations for Thanksgiving month.  I will show those tomorrow.  Another busy day.  We had crock pot roast, cooked slowly with onions, potatoes, tomatoes, brussel sprouts, mushrooms and some white wine I had on hand.   I make some lemon cupcakes with limoncello icing for dessert.   This time I just used a box cake, and added lemon juice and yogurt to the mix of other ingredients for the cupcakes – and the touches of icing is just limoncello, confectioners sugar and some powdered lemonade mix (crystal lite) for tartness.

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MY HOLIDAY PLANNING IS UNDERWAY. HOW IS YOURS COMING?
Sue Marquis Bishop 2013

Spaghetti, Go-To-Meals and All Things Pasta

IT WAS A PLEASANT OCTOBER DAY,  the temperature in Charlotte was in the low 70’s, the air crisp and the leaves turning colors in the city.  After grocery shopping in the morning, I enjoyed lunch and browsing in the clothing stores with my friend Barbara.  We try to meet once a week for lunch, checking out the food and ambiance in a different restaurant each time.  We always discuss the books we are reading. Then, we do something interesting,  such as viewing a new exhibit at the Mint Museum, browsing the huge Metrolina Antique Market, checking out a sale at a favorite store, spending the afternoon in a bookstore, or seeing a movie on rare occasions.  

I NEEDED TO PULL out one of my go-to-meals tonight, if I was to have dinner on the table at the usual time. LIKE SPAGHETTI. I typically change the way I make spaghetti sauce each time I make it.  The way I see it, cooking is a creative process and that is what makes it fun. 

I MADE A SIMPLE TOSSED SALAD of field greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, grated cheddar cheese and chunks of zucchini. 
I put the whole wheat pasta on to cook as I made the sauce. 
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THE SAUCE FOR TONIGHT’S MEAL INCLUDES: ground beef, onions, garlic, tomato paste, peeled and quartered tomatoes, thinly sliced carrots, mushrooms, salt, pepper, basil,  and oregano – and this time, I added a 1/4 cup of sherry (medium to dry).  Since I had limited time to prepare dinner this evening, I precooked the carrots in the microwave until partially done.  In a skillet, I cooked the ground beef and onions and spices until done, added the garlic for an additional minute or two, then added the remaining ingredients. 
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I LEFT THE SAUCE TO COOK DOWN somewhat to the thickness I wanted on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. 
I WATCHED THE PASTA carefully to not overcook and drained it and moved it to the back of the stove for the last few minutes for the sauce to thicken.  I set the table and put the garlic bread in the oven to heat.  Tossed the salad with a little extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

I ARRANGED THE PASTA in my large white tureen, poured the sauce over the pasta and topped with fresh grated parmesan cheese.   I poured glasses of wine.  Tonight, it was Moscato Provincial di Pavia Castello del Poggio, Asti Italy.  Viola!  Dinner is served.
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I FOUND A LEMON PASTA at Trader Joe’s that is my new favorite – Lemon Pepper Pappardelle Pasta.  I prepare the pasta, then toss it with extra virgin olive oil, toasted pine nuts and onions sautéed in a splash of olive oil and butter – then sprinkle pasta I bowl with parmesan and oregano.  Serve with a quarter lemon to squeeze over top.  Delicious.  Really. 

IF YOU WANT TO EXPERIMENT with unusual kinds of pasta and can’t find a local provider who has a variety, I have found an on-line source.  Rossi Pasta (rossipasta.com) has 29 kinds to try, such as: Vino Rosso Linguini, Lemon Pepper, Saffron Linguini, Black Olive Linguini, Wild Mushroom Linguini, Spinach Basil Garlic Fettuccini, citrus Angel Hair, Pumpkin Spice Fettuccini (option to serve with sliced turkey) and many more.  CIAO.

WHAT IS ONE OF YOUR GO-TO-MEALS?

Sue Marquis Bishop October 2013