Monday, October 31, 2011


When I was a child, I memorized this Halloween poem and would sing it around the house the entire month of October. Now it's available in a children's book beautifully illustrated by Greg Couch.
by Harry Behn
Tonight is the night when dead leaves fly,

Like witches on switches across the sky,

When elf and sprite flit through the night on a moony sheen.

Tonight is the night when leaves make a sound
Like a gnome in his home under the ground,
When spooks and trolls creep out of holes mossy and green.
Tonight is the night when pumpkins stare

Through sheaves and leaves everywhere,

When ghouls and ghosts and goblin host  

 Dance round their queen,
It's Halloween.

I hope your Halloween is filled with more treats than tricks, most them chocolate!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


It's coming!

You can hear the hum in the cooling air, the excited laughter of children picking out costumes, the nervous coughs of parents hoping they choose wisely (neither too scary or fresh).

But it's the same sound wherever the west wind blows.

Halloween is almost here!

To fill the time between the "great choosing" of a costume and the first trick-or-treat, we spend time at local pumpkin patches, "not-too-scary" haunted houses, and weekend fall festivals at the local nurseries.

The best garden centers offer hot cider, popcorn balls, and caramel apples, along with mums and other fall decorations.
But since one of the favorite things to do at our house every year is to carve pumpkins, a large selection is essential.
Except the weather can be iffy, hot one day, freezing the next. So we usually wait until a few nights before Halloween to do the carving.

In the meantime, the children hunt for the most unusual pumpkins and gourds,
scariest Halloween decorations,

and things we can't name. 
But when darkness falls and the hot cider is gone, we carry our choice home, the children whispering in the back seat, "Did we pick the right one?"
And every year, after the pumpkin is carved and the candle lit, the answer is always the same. "It's perfect!"

What is a "Study in . . ."? 
A visual record defined by a single element, such as color, texture, or type. Previous journal entries include Turning LeavesLingering RosesIndian SummerFamily Reunion, and Walney Pond

Monday, October 24, 2011


12 3/4 cups chicken broth
1 1/4 cups wild rice (about 7 1/2 ounces)
6 1/4 cups frozen corn (about 2 1/2 pounds), thawed
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 lb chicken breasts, cubed (uncooked)
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 medium onions, chopped
1 1/2 cups half and half

Bring 5 cups broth to simmer in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add wild rice and simmer until the broth evaporates and rice is almost tender, stirring occasionally, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, blend 3 3/4 cups corn and 1 1/2 cups chicken broth in processor until a thick, almost smooth puree forms.

Heat vegetable oil in a heavy large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chicken and saute until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add carrots and onions and stir 3 minutes. Add remaining 6 cups broth and bring soup to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer soup for 15 more minutes.

Add cooked wild rice, corn puree, and remaining 2 1/2 cups corn kernels to soup. Cook another 30 minutes, until rice is very tender. Stir in half and half. Thin soup with broth, if necessary. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve in bowls and with hot sourdough bread and a side salad of baby mixed greens. Pumpkin pie makes a great dessert!

Variation: For an extra zing, substitute smoked sausage, andouille sausage, or Kielbasa for the chicken. Saute in the oil before adding the vegetables.

Yes, I know it's another soup recipe. But this one is worth making. Not only is it delicious and filling, it can be made ahead and the extras can be frozen for a dark winter night's supper.

Other soups in the Recipe Journal collection include: Fall Vegetable Soup and Chicken Noodle Soup.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Change is hard. A truth most adults know well. 

So why is it that every year leaves do what most people can't
so dramatically, 

with such ease, 

in such a spectacular way?

I just hope the next time change affects my life, 

I'll face the upcoming winter 

with the same dignity as a leaf

and dressed in fabulous new clothes. 

So when I look at my reflection, my heart heavy with worry,

 I'll remember how easy leaves make it all seem, 

and embrace life with open arms, 

bright optimism, 
and a ready smile. 
May you enjoy these remaining autumn weeks watching leaves blanket the ground with color and grace.

What is a "Study in . . ."? 
A visual record defined by a single element, such as color, texture, or type. Previous journal entries include Lingering RosesIndian SummerFamily Reunion, and Walney Pond

Saturday, October 15, 2011


 Cold nights demand a hearty, hot soup. And this recipe, loaded with left-over chicken, egg noodles, root vegetables, and topped with dill, is one of my family's favorites.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
2 quarts chicken broth
4 cups shredded chicken
1 cup chopped onion
2 cups baby carrots, cut up
2 large parsnips, peeled, cored, and chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups uncooked medium egg noodles
1/4 cup fresh dill, snipped
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Put broth, chicken, celery, onion, carrots, parsnips, garlic, and pepper in a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes or until all vegetables are tender. Add noodles, cover, and simmer for another 15 minutes. Add fresh dill and parsley and serve immediately.

Serve with bread, slices of sharp cheddar cheese, and apple cider. 

This soup was adapted from my grandmother's recipe--but I left out the two peeled and chopped turnips because no one in my family will eat them.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


During early Autumn, a walk through my garden usually finds rose
hips and bare branches preparing for winter's assault.
But this year things are different.

Two September hurricanes brought inches of warm rain and days
of stifling humidity, leaving the grass greener than it had been in

and my summer roses in both bud and bloom.
Instead of finding faded leaves and dried thorns, I filled a vase
and enjoyed the gift of color and grace,

along with the reminder that this warm-weather splendor is
just a reprieve.
So as the days shorten and the temperature drops, I cut as many
blooms as the children can carry, savoring the vintage scents
and velvet touch.
Because when winter arrives and the west wind blows, all we'll
have of summer is a lingering rose.

What is a "Study in . . ."? 
A visual record defined by a single element, such as color, texture, or type. Previous journal entries include Indian SummerAll is WhiteFamily Reunion, and Walney Pond