Thursday, September 22, 2011


I don't know why I think that when school starts, time will slow down, the children will be happy with structured days after the laziness of summer,

and I'll get more accomplished when school starts.

We'll all wake earlier, be more organized, more focused. 

Every year when the fall flowers bloom, the mornings cool, and the days shorten, I believe this false truth.

And every year I'm disappointed.

The truth is that Autumn speeds up time to match the flutter of a wing,

droop of a petal,

fade of a leaf,

even a wink.
And every year I have to remind myself of why Fall is my favorite season.

And it's not all about the pumpkins. Or the color orange.

The shorter days make me more aware of Winter's approach,

that we should linger in the garden before snow's first fall. 

So we'll take more picnics,

even if we have to bring homework along.

We'll enjoy the garden's last stand,
watch the leaves turn,

and smile at fall's vibrant colors, as if this season is saying to Winter, "Come and get me."

May you enjoy these last days of warmth and beauty before the west winds blow, bringing cold air, long nights, and many mugs of hot chocolate.

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

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


As the nights cool and the farmer's markets overflow, this is a perfect family warm-up for a chilly Autumn evening. 
Fall Vegetable Soup

2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
6 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
2 large garden tomatoes peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
4 unpeeled new potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 small zucchini, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 small yellow squash, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch dice
2 cups fresh corn kernels
4 oz green beans, ends trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
3/4 cup petite penne pasta
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup coarse chopped fresh basil
freshly ground fresh pepper to taste
Fresh grated parmesan for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook until tender, about five minutes. Add the carrots, cover and cook for ten minutes until tender.
Add the chicken stock and water, bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Add the tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini, and yellow squash. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in corn and green beans, reduce heat to low and cook for ten minutes.
At this point, soup can be refrigerated until just before serving then heat to a simmer before continuing.
Add the pasta and simmer for 8 minutes until cooked but still firm. Stir in basil, parsley, and season with pepper. Serve in bowls topped with grated cheese.

Serves 6.
Serve with a fresh green salad, hot crusty bread, and apple cider in front of the season's first blaze in the fireplace. S'mores for dessert would be wonderful as well!

This recipe is adapted from my grandmother Louise Quinlan's vegetable soup recipe and the Indian Summer soup recipe from the out-of-print cookbook Autumn Nights, Winter Mornings.
Bonus Recipe: S'mores
6 large marshmallows
6 large graham crackers
6 1.5 oz chocolate candy bar

Heat marshmallows over an open flame until it begins to brown and melt. Break the graham crackers in half. Sandwich the candy bars and hot marshmallows between the two graham cracker halves. Cool a moment before eating.

Last week's recipe was Apricot and Pecan Scones.


Thursday, September 15, 2011


Now only available through second-hand book stores, this little cookbook, written in 1995 by Barbara Scott-Goodman and Mary Goodbody, is one of my all-time favorites. It's not on my keeper shelf just because every recipe is wonderful. It was a gift from my sister-in-law who is also one of my best friends. 

Although I've been working through my grandmother's recipe box, figuring out what's worth keeping and what I'll never make again, I'm pausing to post a recipe for scones because that's one thing my grandmother never made. And these are some of the best I've ever had.

Apricot and Pecan Scones
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (about 2 1/2 ounces) dried apricots, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup milk
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1 to 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 425ยบ F. Spray a baking sheet with vegetable oil spray or line it with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the apricots and pecans. Slowly stir in the cream and milk to form a sticky dough. 

Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll it into a 9-inch circle about 1/4 inch thick. 

Stamp out scones using a 2-21/2 inch biscuit cutter or an overturned glass. Place the scones about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Gather the scraps, re-roll, and make more scones. 

Brush the tops of the scones with egg white and sprinkle them with sugar. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

As the evening westerly breezes chase the afternoon heat away, warm scones and hot coffee are a wonderful way to start the day.