Lights Out & Warm Brie with Cranberry Chutney

It was a dark and stormy night. The rain was coming down in buckets. The wind was blowing a gale. And the trees, they were toppling like Legos struck down by a petulant four year old. Suddenly, I was wide awake. I seem to have this uncanny knack to wake up just as the lights go out. Maybe it’s the sound of wind in the trees. Then again, maybe it’s some sixth sense.

Perhaps, it’s not the noise that awakens me but a premonition of doom. Anyway that feeling of doom yanked me out of bed. After a bit of fumbling, I found the electric company’s telephone number and I stumbled downstairs to call them. I then spent most of the rest of the night tossing and turning.

Finally, it was morning. Never wanting to miss my daily walk around Pleasant Lake, I set off. I figured I would check out the reason for the power failure and get some exercise. The sun was doing its best to break through the murky fog but failing miserably. It didn’t take long to find an answer to the power outage. Less than a mile down the road, I found the culprit. An enormous hemlock had tipped over and rolled itself up in the electrical wires.

Careful to stay clear of any downed wires, I skirted the tree and continued. Not more than a quarter mile later, another massive tree had flung itself across the road, downing still more wires. Further on, more curious then damaging, a large branch was nonchalantly hanging from a wire in the center of the road. Next, not another tree but a jumble of wires lay on the road surrounded by a few downed branches.

I kept moving and found an even more exciting trouble spot. This time the wires were actually on fire. Scrambling through the woods, I managed to avoid electrocution. Was that it? No, certainly not. Just at the corner, not a stone’s throw from my house was the last of the fallen hemlocks. Caught in the wires and suspended over the road, it looked like an accident ready to happen.

How disappointing is that? Not only was the power out but seeing that tree made me realize something. I probably don’t have a sixth sense after all. That tree must have made a hell of a racket when it crashed. It was a conifer and not some mystical psychic power that woke me in the night.

Anyway, let this outage be a reminder. If you are like me, you went to bed on Sunday night completely unprepared for two days without power. In my case, I had a large stash of triple-A but no flashlight batteries. Then again, the flashlight I faithfully keep in my bedside table had been moved. Yes of course, by me. Who else? And yes, I know better.

Furthermore, to answer the next question, no, I had not filled my five-gallon lobster pot and a dozen jugs with water. In fact, I threw out a bunch of old gallon jugs when I stripped the kitchen for the remodel. The lobster pot is somewhere in the garage.

I did manage a bit of luck though. Although I forgot to charge my cell phone before going to bed, it wasn’t dead. At twenty-six percent, it had more than enough power for me to call the power company, be cut off, call back and be put on hold, cut off again and, finally, get through and register my outrage … oops … I mean outage.

Stay safe and dry. Bon appétit!

Warm Brie with Cranberry Chutney
Although it is still early, I’m already thinking ahead to Thanksgiving. May I suggest that you start the festivities with a bit of warm brie topped with a dollop of sweet and spicy chutney? Enjoy!
Makes about 30 pieces

Cranberry Chutney (recipe follows)
1 (16 ounce) wheel Brie cheese
Your favorite artisanal crackers

Make the Cranberry Chutney (recipe follows).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the brie wheel on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until soft and starting to ooze, about 10 minutes.

Transfer the brie to a cheese board, add a bowl of Cranberry Chutney and a basket of your favorite artisanal crackers. Invite your guests to help themselves.

Cranberry Chutney
Makes about 2 cups

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon or to taste cayenne pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
8 ounces (2 cups) whole cranberries
1 small apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup or to taste light brown sugar
1/2 cup apple cider or water
3-4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add the onion, carrot, ginger and spices, season with salt and pepper and cook until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes more.

Stir in the cranberries, apple, raisins, brown sugar and cider and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chutney reaches a jam consistency, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, cool to room temperature and stir in the vinegar.

Best if made ahead, covered and refrigerated until ready to use. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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One Year Ago – Butternut Squash Tartlets
Two Years Ago – Lemony Kale & Radicchio Salad
Three Years Ago – Wild Rice & Mushroom Stuffing
Four Years Ago – Sweet Potato & Goat Cheese Crostini
Five Years Ago – Pumpkin Cheesecake
Six Years Ago – Rustic Apple Croustade
Seven Years Ago – Cranberry Sauce
Eight Years Ago – Decadent Cheesy Potatoes
Nine Years Ago – Broccoli Puree

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

Are you ready for the next power outage? What are secret survival tricks? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

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Halloween on Pleasant Lake & Apple Oatmeal Cookies

What’s Halloween like in rural New Hampshire? Well except for the coyotes, pretty quiet. Yes, I know. There’s plenty going on up on Main Street. But nothing, zip, nada in my neighborhood. Down by Pleasant Lake, we’re a mix of year-round and summer people. By mid-October, most of the leaves have faded, it’s dark before six and more than half of houses are empty. We are not a hub of Halloween festivities, far from it.

It was summer and the neighborhood very busy when I moved into my house several years ago. Up until the Columbus Day, there was still a fair amount of weekend activity. That’s when the summer people closed up their cottages. About the same time, the snowbirds disappeared. That said, down at my end of the road, there were a few kids. Not many mind you but enough to know they were there. From time to time, I’d see them with their heavy backpacks on their way to or from the bus.

Knowing there were kids in the neighborhood, I dutifully bought a bag of fun-sized Milky Way®. About that name, what’s up with that? No not Milky Way, I get that. The candy bar was named after a milkshake. The milkshake was named after the galaxy. Why? Well, the story starts to get murky so that’s about all I can tell you.

No, the part I don’t get is why the teeny tiniest candy bars are called fun size. Where’s the fun in these one-bite wonders? Moreover, and please correct me if I’m wrong, those fun size bars seem to be shrinking every year. Who are the candy manufacturers trying to kid?

The fun moniker would be more appropriate for one of those supersized bars. I ask you, what’s more fun – a teeny tiny drop of chocolate or a big honkin’ bar? Come to think of it, a more fitting label might be fun-while-it-lasted. Eating one of those giant candies in one sitting is an invitation to a tummy-ache. But hey, you’re only a kid once.

All right, enough digressing, let’s get back to my Halloween preparations. Although I dutifully stocked up on miniature Milky Way® bars, I forgot to stop at the bank. So I went through every pocket and purse for loose change for Unicef. I put on my orange t-shirt, the one with the jack-o-lantern. I tasted a couple of the mini-chocolates. (Only a few, I needed to make sure they were safe for the children.) And I waited. Then, I waited some more. And some more. When it started raining, I figured that was that.

About eight-thirty, maybe nine o’clock, I was ready to turn off the outside lights and change out of my silly t-shirt. That’s when a car drove in the driveway. What’s with that, I thought. The parents on Jackson Road never chauffeured their kids around on Halloween. Rain, sleet or snow, we walked from house to house. However, I didn’t judge. Instead, I picked up my bowls of candy and coins and headed to the door.

Hands in his pockets, a hunched over middle schooler shuffled through the rain. He didn’t shout trick or treat and I was none too sure of his costume. However, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he was going for subtlety – Clark Kent on casual Friday. Beyond the headlights, I could see the driver’s silhouette and maybe another person. On second thought, maybe it was a simple ploy by his nitwit older brothers to collect candy. You know – send in the kid. After helping himself to a handful of fun, the boy shuffled back to the car. He was my first, last and only trick or treater.

Hey, wait a minute. Maybe they were lost or Russian spies trying to figure out this bizarre American custom. I’ll never know. Bon appétit!

Apple Cookies
Loaded with fruit, nuts and oatmeal, if you like you can pretend these cookies are good for you. Enjoy!
Makes about 5 dozen cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup instant oatmeal
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon each ground cinnamon and ginger
1/4 teaspoon each ground nutmeg and allspice
1 1/2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1-2 apples, about 1 cup finely chopped or coarsely grated
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chocolate chips

Set 2 racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with silicon liners or parchment paper.

Put the flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder and soda and spices in a bowl and whisk to combine.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, sour cream and vanilla and beat until smooth. Turn the mixer down to low, gradually add the dry ingredients and beat until just combined. Fold in the apple, raisins, nuts and chocolate chips

Drop tablespoons of dough about 3 inches apart (a mini ice-cream scoop works great) onto the prepared baking sheets. If you like, you can flatten the cookies slightly with moistened fingers. Switching racks and turning the pans midway through baking, bake the cookies until they are lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Let the cookies set for a minute and then transfer to a rack to cool.

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One Year Ago – Chipotle Sweet Potato & White Bean Hummus
Two Years Ago – Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares
Three Years Ago – Mini Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
Four Years Ago Ago – Pumpkin Spice Cookies
Five Years Ago – Chicken in Every Pot
Six Years Ago – Roasted Carrots & Pearl Onions
Seven Years Ago – Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto
Eight Years Ago – Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pearl Onions
Nine Years Ago – Mexican Chicken Soup

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How many trick or treaters will be at your house on Halloween? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

How to Spend Memorial Day Weekend & Lemony Green Rice

It started as a day to honor Civil War soldiers. Memorial Day is now a day of remembrance for all of the men and women who have died while serving in our country’s armed forces. There will be parades and memorial services throughout the state. Bearing flowers and flags, many will visit and spruce up the graves of loved ones.

Memorial Day Weekend is also the unofficial start of summer in places warmer than New Hampshire. After a few notable fits and starts, our summer generally waits until Flag Day or the Fourth of July to get going. However, that doesn’t keep the hordes of summer people from coming north for the weekend. They’ll battle the black flies, create long lines at the supermarket and sweep out their cottages. I know because for many years I was one of those flatlanders.

Local or seasonal, not everyone has an enthusiasm for sweeping so here are a few alternatives for the weekend:

Run a race. You can find road races and trail runs throughout the weekend. The 5K over in Wilmot is named for our least favorite spring visitors, the notoriously despicable black flies. If running is too much for your knees, don’t worry, most fun runs welcome walkers.

Climb a mountain. If you’d rather climb a mountain than run up a hill, New Hampshire is full of choices. Stay close to home and enjoy the view of Pleasant Lake from atop Mount Kearsarge or take on the challenge of any one of New Hampshire’s 4,000-footers.

Go on an adventure. Explore something, anything, as long as it is a bit wild, weird or wacky. If you’ve never tried white water rafting – now is a good time to fix that. Then again, you might be thinking of a road trip. I suggest a pilgrimage to the world’s largest ball of twine or pistachio. Rafting is close at hand but you will have plan ahead for a big adventure. Four different twine balls claim to be the largest and they are in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kansas and Missouri. Perhaps you’d like to see all four. The giant pistachio has no rivals and is in New Mexico. However, correct me if I’m wrong but New Mexico sounds like a perfect winter road trip!

Visit a museum. Keeping with the theme of wild, weird or wacky, I might suggest the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine. Cryptozoology is the study of hidden animals like Big Foot and mermaids. Once you see the Yeti hair samples and a replica of P.T. Barnum‘s FeeJee Mermaid, you can go get a lobster or head over to L.L. Beans. Alternatively, you might want to skip Maine and head to Massachusetts for the Museum of Bad Art. There are three locations to choose from and each fills its walls with “Art too bad to be ignored.”

Shop ‘til you drop at a sidewalk sale. Like most long weekends, there will be a ton of sales out there. In addition, New Hampshire has more than its fair share of outlet malls making it a shopping paradise. The what-to-buy-when experts are recommending mattresses, refrigerators and kayaks for the Memorial Day Weekend. Since I am in the market for a new refrigerator, I might have to succumb.

Decisions, decisions, decisions – drive thousands of miles to see a giant ball of twine, spend a day looking at refrigerators or …

Have a wonderful weekend and bon appétit!

Lemony Green Rice
Warm or at room temperature, a great side dish for a summery potluck – Lemony Green Rice goes well with grilled chicken, seafood and veggies. Enjoy!
Serves 6-8

1 1/2 cups rice, preferably basmati
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 tablespoons butter
1-2 bunch scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated (1/2-3/4 cup each)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

Put 5-6 cups of salted water in a large pot and bring to boil. Stir in the rice, cover, reduce the heat and let the rice cook at a low boil until just tender, about 15 minutes.

While the rice bubbles, lightly coat a skillet with olive oil, add 1 tablespoon butter and heat on medium. Add the white parts of the scallions, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until it begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking until the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes more. Remove from the heat and reserve.

Drain the rice, return it to the pot, add the scallions and garlic, lemon zest and juice and a little more butter if you like, stir to combine and cover. Let the rice sit off the heat for about 10 minutes.

Add the herbs and scallion greens and toss to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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One Year Ago – Crostini with Red Pepper Tzatziki & Greek Salad
Two Years Ago – Ginger Shortcakes with Rhubarb Compote
Three Years Ago – Rhubarb Upside Down Cake
Four Years Ago – New Potato Salad Dijon
Five Years Ago – Asparagus Crostini with Sundried Tomato Pesto & Goat Cheese
Six Years Ago – Wheat Berry Salad
Seven Years Ago – Not Your Ordinary Burger
Eight Years Ago – Strawberry Rhubarb Soup
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What about you? How will you spend the long holiday weekend? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

More Winter Weekend Special

Sun on Tuesday, raining on Wednesday, blustery winds on Thursday and polar express weekend – it’s a typical almost spring week in New Hampshire. It seems that every time I get a free morning to ski – either it’s blistering cold or the wind is blowing an arctic gale. It’s making me cranky!

What to do? Last weekend I spent some time in the kitchen experimenting with shrimp curry and making black bean soup.

With frostbiting temperature, I guess I’ll be back in the kitchen this weekend. What about you? Would you like to come over for a kitchen party? No one ever accused my kitchen of being spacious so maybe a potluck is a better idea? Maybe you’ll host your own. Host or guest, here are a few suggestions:

Appetizers to bring along or make together! Dip into some Roasted Beet & White Bean Hummus while you flip Savory Blinis and then top with smoked salmon and caviar or whip up some Homemade Bratwurst Bites with Horseradish Mustard.

Salads to toss! Roasted veggies are a great addition to winter salads. Roast the vegetables and make the vinaigrette in advance. A helpful friend is sure to step forward to put it all together. Choose from my Roasted Cauliflower, Radicchio & Arugula Salad, Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese Salad or Mixed Greens with Roasted Mushrooms.

Bring on the casseroles! Definitely make ahead, a casserole bubbling in the oven will cut down on the kitchen chaos. My Poverty Casserole gets high marks from hungry skiers. Maybe you’ll go with a classic like Decadent Mac & Cheese or Four Cheese Lasagna Bolognese with Spinach (or maybe … Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagna).

When in doubt, ask your favorite baker to bring dessert. You might suggest a simply delicious Carrot Cake, an over the top Chocolate-Espresso Cheesecake or a fabulous Chocolate-Peanut Butter Tart.

Have a great weekend! Bon appétit!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

What’s up with you this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2017

A Magical Turn on the Ice & Tortellini en Brodo con Spinaci

pl_ice_17Looking back, we can all recall magical times. It could have been a day or a year when by some fantastic good fortune, everything came together. It could be as fleeting as a happy night on the beach, drinking beer with friends while the northern lights danced above. Perhaps a year in Spain or Montana still makes you smile. Maybe it was one unforgettable winter when your love life, job, haircut and the ski conditions were all spectacular.

About this time every year, I remember a few magical weeks on Pleasant Lake. It all started to come together in December. I was a senior in college. After taking my last final, I headed home to our little brown house in the woods near Pleasant Lake. Unlike past Christmas vacations, the week was not filled with glorious snow and fun on the ski slope. Snowmaking was still on the wish list at King Ridge and December reigned cold, calm and dry.

Like many schools, mine had what was called the January Plan. For about three weeks, at school or away, students worked on a special project. Some stayed on campus and watched movies; others went to Florida to count alligators or studied flora and fauna from a chairlift in France. Students loved it; their parents not so much. Dad still rants about the waste of time and money.

Anyway, it took three projects to graduate. Having done my three, I had a few extra weeks of vacation. I picked up a few bucks working the holiday rush and after-Christmas sale at a local clothing store. I slept late. Mom and I took a quick trip to Florida to check on my grandparents. All in all, it should have added up to a rather boring month.

Would have; except for the lake. While the snow drought put the kibosh on skiing, that combination of cold, calm and dry created something wonderful on Pleasant Lake. It was so cold that the lake quickly developed a thick layer of ice. It was so calm that the ice was as shiny and smooth as glass. It was so dry that there wasn’t a flake of snow or drop of rain to mottle the smooth surface. It was perfect.

A day or two after New Year’s, I found my skates and headed down to the beach. Mount Kearsarge loomed majestically over a massive expanse of ice. Almost two miles long and close to a mile wide, it was bigger than any rink and I had it all to myself.

Although cold, the sun was shining when I stepped onto the ice. After a few tentative glides, I found my skating legs and took off. It was exhilarating. Taking a turn around Blueberry Island, I skated from one end of the lake to the other. I explored nooks and crannies along the shore. The ice was so clear, I could almost see, or at least imagined I could see, trout swimming under my feet.

As beautiful as it was, the huge expanse of ice was also a bit terrifying. The ice warbled, creaked and groaned. Was something happening? Something I should know about? As I made my way down the lake, I came across long cracks in the ice. An art major, I knew nothing of the shifts that ice makes with changing temperatures. My active imagination wondered if one of those cracks might expand and swallow me. Active imagination or not, it was too glorious to stop so I continued skating.

The start of the new semester and the inevitable January thaw came much too soon. I headed back to school on a foggy, gray day. But somewhere packed among the clean clothes, Bean boots and ice skates, I brought along the lasting awe and wonder of a few magical weeks on the ice on Pleasant Lake.

Here’s to a magical New Year. Bon appétit!

Tortellini en Brodo con Spinaci
Pasta in a hearty broth is the perfect supper after a day on the ice. Enjoy!
Serves 8

Olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1-2 carrots, finely chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup dry white wine
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
About 12 cups chicken stock
1 rind from a piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano* (optional)
2 pounds tortellini
12-16 ounces baby spinach
Garnish: grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Heat a little olive oil in a soup kettle over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and carrot and sauté until the onion starts to become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, season with paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper and sauté for 2-3 minutes more.

Raise the heat to medium-high, stir in the wine and cook, stirring frequently until the wine has reduced by about half. Stir in the stock, add the herbs and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes or longer.

Can be made ahead to this point, cooled to room temperature, covered and refrigerated.

Bring the broth to a rapid boil, add the tortellini and cook according to package directions.

Carefully transfer the tortellini to shallow bowls. Stir the spinach into the broth and cook until it wilts, 1-2 minutes. Ladle the broth and spinach over the tortellini and top with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

* While the Parmigiano-Reggiano rind is optional, it makes a world of difference!

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One Year Ago – Spanish Stuffed Mushrooms
Two Years Ago – White Bean Soup with Sweet Potato and Wilted Greens
Three Years Ago – Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup
Four Years Ago – Mixed Greens Salad with Gorgonzola & Walnuts
Five Years Ago – Spanakopita Triangles
Six Years Ago – Braised Red Cabbage
Seven Years Ago – Apple Bread Pudding
Eight Years Ago – Root ‘n’ Tooty Good ‘n’ Fruity Oatmeal Cookies

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What about you? What are your New Year’s resolutions? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Fall Foliage Weekend Special

autumn_pleasant_lakeOh my gosh and golly, New Hampshire is just stunning! Stunning, there is no other word for it. Chilly in the morning, a magical mist rises from the lake. By mid-morning, the sun is warm and the sky is blue, the perfect backdrop for the brilliant red and gold leaves.

At the end of the day, cozy up with a few good pals and a delicious bowl of chili! Here’s a yummy menu to try this weekend …

Forget the same-ol’ same-ol’. Start with a tasty crostini. If you haven’t yet, you try my Crostini with Fig, Stilton and Walnuts or Mushroom Crostini. Sound good?

Now for the main course. Chili is a great idea. Make it early and then enjoy the day. Forget that bowl o’ red (or not). It’s fall, embrace the flavors of the season. How about a batch of my Pumpkin Chili with Turkey & Black Beans? It’s autumn in a bowl! Add a simple salad of greens with one of my Classic Vinaigrettes and my Double Corn & Cheddar Muffins.

What about dessert? Well, you can go fancy-cozy with Maple Mousse with Apple Compote or cozy-cozy with Apple Crisp. I’ll let you choose.

Have a colorful weekend and bon appétit!

What are your plans for the weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2016

Enjoy the Peak & Pumpkin Chili with Turkey & Black Beans

fall_leaves_02There is a closely guarded secret in northern New England. It’s not like one of those deep, dark family secrets. You know the type – maybe your uncle is ex-KGB or your grandparents were illegal aliens. Heck, maybe you haven’t paid taxes in a couple of decades or have an email server in your basement. Whatever it is, you’re probably okay as long as you don’t run for office.

New Hampshire’s secret is the foliage. Not the fact that we have it and it’s glorious. No, our secret is all about timing. All those people who crowded our highways and byways over the long weekend; they missed it. The peak, at least in my neighborhood, is rarely if ever on the second weekend of October. As long as Hurricane Matthew doesn’t take a turn and strip all the leaves from the trees, the colors should be at their most glorious this coming weekend.

Now that you know the truth, what are you going to do about it? How will you celebrate our bright and brilliant countryside? The peak comes and goes in what seems like instant so you don’t have a lot of time to ponder. Before you know it, the golden days of October will disappear. Is there any debate that New Hampshire is at its worst in November?

First and foremost, get out and about. Take a walk through the woods for an up close and personal foliage tour. Nervous about ticks? Take a walk through town, any town. Is there anything more New England than an old white church framed in scarlet and gold again a bright blue sky? The lake is magic this time of year. When the water is still, it is like glass. A canoe or kayak paddle is definitely in order. Maybe you’d prefer to hop on your bike and cover more ground. Or get in the car and go further still. However you travel, bring a festive picnic or plan to stop at your favorite bistro.

In addition to that bistro, you might want to wander through some of your favorite shops. Admire some antiques, find the perfect pumpkin and splurge on the latest novel by your favorite author. It’s probably due to all those years of back- to- school shopping but there’s something about fall. It makes us want to buy a new sweater, a pair of boots or new pillows for the sofa. Maybe even a new sofa?

While you are wandering around the farmstand looking for pumpkins, don’t forget to stock up on cider, apples, squash and a basket of gnarly gourds. It’s time to bake your first apple pie of the season. I guess anything apple will do – a cake, muffins – you choose! As for that lovely squash or sugar pumpkin, you’ll want to get cozy after a day outside with soup, risotto or chili.

And what about those gnarly gourds? They are for decorating. After Christmas, fall is the most decorated season. Create a festive display of mums, pumpkins, gourds and cornstalks on your front porch. Perhaps you’d like to use some of those pumpkins to build fanciful scarecrows. Whether you go elegant or whimsical, there’s still a bit of time left for outdoor living. Be sure to invite a few friends over to enjoy a cup of afternoon tea or an early evening cocktail surrounded by your creativity.

Enjoy the peak and bon appétit!

Pumpkin Chili with Turkey & Black Beans
Make this delicious chili in advance for an easy feast after an adventure-filled day. Enjoy!
Serves 12pumpkins_gords_02

1 pound dried black beans
2 bay leaves
Olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 1/2-2 large onions, chopped
1 (or more to taste) chipotle pepper(s) in adobo, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 pounds ground turkey
2-3 cups homemade (or canned) pumpkin puree
2-3 cups chicken or turkey stock or broth
1 1/2 cups beer, preferably dark beer
3/4 cup sour cream
Garnish: toasted pumpkin seeds and fresh chopped cilantro

Rinse the beans, put them in a bowl, add water to cover by about 4 inches and soak overnight.

Drain and rinse the beans. Put the beans and 1 bay leaf in large pot, add water to cover by 3-4 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to very low, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

While the beans are cooking, heat a little olive oil in a large casserole and heat over medium. Add the carrots, onions, chipotle, spices and herbs, season with salt and pepper and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Remove from the pan and reserve.

Add a little more olive oil to the casserole, add the turkey, season with salt and pepper and sauté until lightly browned. Return the vegetables to the pot and stir to combine.

Stir in the pumpkin puree, 1-2 cups stock, the beer and remaining bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Simmer on very low until the beans are ready to add to the chili.

After the beans have been cooking for about 45 minutes, drain and add them to the chili. Cover and transfer the chili to the oven. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Stirring a few times and adding more chicken stock if necessary, cook for about 1 hour.

Put the sour cream in a bowl. A little at a time, whisk 2 cups of chili into the sour cream. Stir the sour cream mixture into the chili, add more chicken stock if necessary and return the chili to the oven for about 1 hour.

Serve the chili in shallow bowls garnished with pumpkin seeds and chopped cilantro.

Best if made ahead, cooled to room temperature, covered and refrigerated for serval hours or overnight. To reheat: bring to a simmer over low heat on the stovetop or in a 350-degree oven.

Homemade Pumpkin Puree
1 or more sugar pumpkin(s)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the pumpkin(s) in half and scoop and scrape out the seeds. Quarter each of the halves and place the pieces on a baking sheet.

Roast the pumpkin at 350 degrees until tender, about 45 minutes. Cool slightly. When the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and put it in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse and process until the pumpkin is smooth.

Put the puree in a sieve lined with coffee filters or cheesecloth and drain for several hours or overnight.

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One Year Ago – Ravioli with Roasted Butternut Squash
Two Years Ago – Hearty White Bean & Tomato Soup
Three Years Ago – Cherry-Pistachio Biscotti
Four Years Ago – Tagliatelle alla Carbonara
Five Years Ago – Carbonnade á la Flamande – Beer Braised Beef & Onions
Six Years Ago – Braised Beef Bourguignon
Seven Years Ago – Pumpkin Cupcakes
Eight Years Ago – Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

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Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2016