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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Signs of Fall

Even though it is 86 degrees, I saw frost on the pumpkins!!! Not only that, there were squirrels stowing acorns away for the colder days ahead. That is surely a sign that fall is almost here and I am soooo excited! Along the north coast of Lake Erie, fall is the longest season we have. In fact,  there will be no frost on the pumpkins until after Thanksgiving.

There were plenty of other signs that heralded my favorite season. The produce stands are full of homegrown tomatoes and corn. Yum! Sure, you usually think of those as summer produce, but, in order to have a perfect Ohio tomato, you have to wait until almost September.

This is the closest I have ever been to corn not on my plate. In spite of the fact that my grandmother and aunt grew up on a farm in Iowa and I recall visiting many times, I don't remember the corn. I remember the piglets and horses and the swing on the front porch, but, I don't think I ever wandered near any field of corn. The cornfield near our camper, which was a soybean field last year, is dense with stalks. I keep imagining scenes from the movie, Field of Dreams, where the old time ball players emerge from the cornfield, and sometime I think of the movie, North By Northwest, where Cary Grant is chased by a dust cropper. Clearly, my association with cornfields is strictly from Hollywood!

This year,  we didn't plant a single tomato or even any basil. Sigh, the two main ingredients of  our favorite summer dinners: Linguine with Tomatoes And Basil, from The Silver Palate Cookbook. 
In case you want to try it, it is both delicious and easy.

4 large ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 pound Brie, rind removed, torn into irregular pieces
1 cup fresh basil leaves, rinsed, patted dry, and cut into strips (this takes awhile, trust me)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon best quality olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus additional to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds linguine
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish (optional)

1.At least 2 hours before serving,(don't rush, this really makes a difference) combine the tomatoes (must be fresh and ripe-we've tried this in the winter and it isn't the same, at all) , Brie, basil,(see message about tomatoes-same with the basil, trust me on this) garlic, the 1 cup olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a large serving bowl. (really large)
2.Bring 6 quarts salted water to a boil in a large pot. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and the linguine, and boil until tender but still firm, 8 to 10 minutes.
3.Drain the pasta and immediately toss with the tomato sauce. Serve at once (I have our seated on the porch and the bread and salad on the table before I start step 3) passing the pepper mill, and the grated cheese, if you like.

The leaves are already starting to turn. This tree is in our campground in Bellevue, Ohio. The Japanese Maple in our yard is tinged in red, too. I've always thought the best trip in the world would be to follow fall, starting far north in Maine and heading down into the Carolina's to extend the season. Maybe next year, traveling in Nina? 

The mums are at the garden stands already. Even though they really don't match our blue/gray/green house paint (trimmed with pink) I can't resist adding these to our window boxes. I have never been successful in planting mums in the flower beds to have them come up again-they are strictly annual with my green/brown thumb.

Speaking of my gardening skills, Queen Anne's Lace is Ron's favorite "flower" as it was my Grandma Carlson's.  We've tried several times to get these to grow in our garden, and behind our garage, but, to no avail thus far. Transplanting them leads to disappointment quickly--I wonder if sowing the seeds would bring better success. Maybe it  is large maple tree's roots in our yard, or the fact that we have a small city lot, not a big open field? 

Ahhh, no more time to ponder, Paulie and I have some knitting to do. Another wonderful thing about fall-there is more time to sit and knit, and enjoy the cooler days on the porch. Our favorite is "twine-time." we start with tea at 3 and 4, and finish with wine at 5, 6, and 7! What a life!