This is not one of those perfectly styled, gorgeous, home inspiration posts. This one is just REAL.
Welcome to Fall. And guess what? Right this minute, we are all where we are. And it all is what it is. Hurricane season. Back-to-school transitions. Plus Life. We’re all just doing the best we can.
See how that wall is spackled but not primed nor finished? And see that backsplash? Nope, it isn’t there yet? Right. And yes, this is the only 6 square feet of almost clear space in the whole house right now. It’s a metaphor for sure. We are where we are…so let’s just take a break, heat some cider with mulling spices, throw a cloth from the pile, under a board from the collection, and pile it with fresh-baked cookies, and just sit for a minute, laugh, snack, and refuel on love and cookies, and talk about Fall Foods because Liza showed up — with cookies!
TME readers, meet Liza. She’s as tried and true blue as they come. I’m only confused about my own age because she pathologically lies about hers, and well, life is relative. (For the record, I’m younger.) She’s an education researcher and educator by paid profession, and a gifted raiser of all the funds for all the schools, all the arts, and all the causes. She’s the only person I know who remembers everyone’s birthdays without a calendar or FB reminder. She’s my eldest daughter’s G_d Mother for good reason. She’s got all the letters, and could care less about them, except for the last six sets: JD, PhD, and MOM (of 4 boys 10 and under, mind you) FRIEND, DAUGHTER, SISTER, PARTNER, LOVE. In addition to always having her head, heart, and thumb on the pulse of the city, the world, fun events, movies, culture, current events, and politics (seriously, I challenge you to find a person who reads and/or does more) she is also…wait for it…our resident hidden-talent-secret-local-best-baker ever! It might be a natural talent, or it might be the fact that she does it EVERY NIGHT. No joke. That and Diet Coke, I’m pretty sure, are what keep this woman going. So stay tuned…b/c once this kitchen is done…we’ll start doing a Liza Bakes series, and we’ll all be sweeter for it!
Until then, all you need to know is yes, she’s always in that helmet because she moves around town on her bike, at warp speed. And she’s the friend that drops in, says, “I have 20 minutes. Give me 5 boxes and I’ll pack the kitch.” Or on the other end…”I have 20 minutes, fresh cookies, and I’ll unpack as many boxes as you throw my way in 20 minutes.” But for a few minutes today, we both did something unusual, and we sat down. And talked about all the fall foods we’re so excited to start cooking in this unfinished, imperfect, but just about working kitchen!
Let’s start out with the easy wins. Sure, you can light a candle to get those fun fall smells going. That works. Even better: toss some mulling spices in a pot with some apple cider and warm it up! It tastes delicious, the kids all love it, and yes, when necessary, the big kids can spike it.
And then there are the baked goods. She rode by on her bike the other night and left a bag of hand-me-down clothes from a mutual friend for my girls, and of course, she also left a half loaf of Zucchini Bread. Just to get me through the next day. Is that friendship and love, or what? Today, she popped-in to unpack a few boxes and had Banana Bread (her staple) and these amazing new Cookies she just tested. Truth: I don’t prefer sweets. I’m a salt chips and wine kinda girl. But when Liza bakes, I test. More truth: they are freaking delicious!
More truth per Liza:
- Never short the butter! (Go ahead, giggle, it’ll feel good.)
- While all the recipes call for a mixer, you are a mom, you have strong arms, just hand mix.
- Blackened Bananas. Always. (If you are a Philly Girl from the 70s and or 80s, you will giggle here too!)
Need more fall baking inspiration? Try these:
And then there’s the food. Liza bakes. I cook. It’s our division of labor. These are some of the Fall Foods I’m most excited about right now!
Figs are just so delicious, even just all by themselves, raw. And they are good for us too! I’m a giant fan of The Barefoot Contessa. Her food is always delicious, and I find her recipes surprisingly doable. That said, the most frequent thing I do with Figs in the Fall? I half them, place them skin side down in a mini-muffin tin, smear a little goat cheese, drop a piece of a sprig of rosemary, drizzle with olive oil, and bake at 400 degrees, for 10-15 minutes. Yum. No recipe needed. Cute as can be as an easy snack or app.
Pumpkin SoupPumpkin Soup is a fall favorite! I love this Martha Stewart recipe, it’s delicious! But…sometimes, everything — soup included — needs to be souper easy. Have you made soup in your Vitamix yet? If you haven’t, you should. Here’s the easiest and most delicious recipe I’ve found for that route:
Have you ever met a sweet potato you don’t love? I have yet to. I love them sliced and baked with a little olive oil and pepper, and so do the kids! Not top much olive oil, give them space, and bake at at least 425 degrees. That’s the trick to crisp. Slicing is easier with this, or this. But wear the glove. I have a scar on my thumb from not. You don’t need one of those. And if you are up for a little more sweet potato fun, try this:
Fall Food for Thought/Mid-Term Elections
You know what other season Fall is? It’s Mid-term Elections Season. If you want more information on that, click here. Skimming is great. And those girls have gone ahead and made understanding why we vote, where we vote, what we’re voting on, and why it matters EASY. So follow their links. They will help make it easy for you to do as we all need to do.
Your political views are yours, ours are ours. They can both exist. What we have in common? We all need to vote in order for the whole system to work. This is a post, from just before our last Presidential election, where Liza and I, in helmets, of course, preached, on why we should all vote. The photo screams our views; and we respect yours whether they are ours or not. The point is – just get out there. Let The Skimm help you make sure you are registered, help you figure out your dates, and help you feel more informed in this agreeably crazy world in which we live. xoxo A and L
And wear your helmet always. Just in case.
OK, we’re off to orchestrate a yard sale. At this point, it’s actually a yard give away. And there’s no yard. We’re city dwellers. But you know, we are where we are. And where we are, is get it OUT. xoxo A