Sunday, October 18, 2009

All Things Autumn

The weeks are flying by and the temperature has dropped in keeping with what we have expected. The leaves that shimmered brilliant red on our foliage field trip last week have become muted shades of yellows and browns. Leaves swirl and merrily skip along the streets of this city and the roads leading out to more rural areas as the days on the calendar dance happily into the heart of autumn.

Our Town House hosted a lovely annual meeting the other evening complete with unlimited wine, sushi and hors d’oeuvres. We met many interesting folks and are constantly surprised at how many of our neighbors are from New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Massachusetts. It always pays to attend these meetings… you never know what you will learn! Those who know me well know my desire to be near a gym, especially one open 24/7! Well, wonder of wonders, we share a driveway with a world class hotel, and being the good neighbors they are their health club facilities…fitness center and heated pool…are available to residents on a complimentary basis. You can bet I was there the next morning….very nice, great machines and, I might add, boasting a lovely view of the lake and the snow-capped Adirondacks.

Yes, I said snow-capped. That day the highest peaks of both the Adirondacks and the Green Mountains looked as if a shaker of confectioner’s sugar was dusted atop them like a baker would dust powdered donuts. Rumor or legend (call it what you want) has it that once the mountains have snow the valleys can expect it in 4 to 6 weeks. That being said I appreciate the fact that I will be walking to work.

Work? Yes, work! finally….I decided to take a break from the world of education and pursue an interest I have had for many years. A management level position was offered to me at an institution that prides itself as being the premier specialty retailer in gourmet cookware, bake ware and food items. The invitation to work there was presented to me as “How would you like to have fun with us here?” Man oh man, it’s busy but it’s a great learning experience. I am in cooking heaven….but as my interests run, more like baker’s heaven.

Ah baking, yes I have made my fall specialty apple crisp this week and it was a big hit. I served if for dessert at a dinner party we hosted for some new Vermont friends. My husband is the food expert and he is happy to assign dessert to me as it keeps me from disrupting his kitchen operation. The kitchen remains his fiefdom if I am busy creating in my own little baking world. That man is happy and easy going but there is a reason he will relinquish the baking to me!

Here is my Apple Crisp Recipe. Feel free to add/subtract the optional ingredients to make it more to your personal taste. Most importantly, enjoy!

4 cups apples, cored, peeled and sliced

¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup brown sugar

¾ cup oatmeal

½ tsp. salt

¾ tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. allspice

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

½ cup raisins

½ cup dried cranberries

1 cup chopped walnuts

Pre heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Place prepared apples into a lightly greased 8 x 8 inch lightly greased baking dish.

Blend the dry ingredients; blend the butter in with a hand held pastry blender until it crumbles. Top the fruit with this mixture. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Serve warm topped with your choice of ice cream or homemade whipped cream.

What would a blog about Vermont be without paying some attention to the “leaf peeping” season? Yes indeed, that’s what people who travel up north to view the changing colors are fondly referred to as…leaf peepers!

We decided to play tourist one day and travel the beautiful Route 100. Voted as one of the ten best roads to travel in the US, it’s worth the trip anytime of year but especially during foliage season. It’s a 200 mile road running south to north up the state taking the traveler on a delightful journey. Route 100 weaves in and out of small rustic towns, then winds through the Green Mountain National Forest, cutting through mountains and back over the edge to reveal breathtaking views of valleys and their villages.

Antique shops, country stores, ski slopes, mountain vistas and waterfalls are all part of the experience. Take time to stop along the way to visit the attractions and photograph the show nature is putting on for its visitors.

My blog is for you to enjoy as much as I do. I have had so many enthusiastic comments from last week’s cauliflower recipe with readers happily sharing their favorites. Please send along comments to share with the rest of us!

Monday, October 5, 2009


Yes, that's right... cauliflower. The recipe that follows is not only delicious but pretty healthy. My mother-in-law is a great cook and has passed down many excellent recipes to her son-my husband. The food co-op had a special feature of cauliflower artfully arranged in the produce section today. It was time to make Spaghetti with Cauliflower.
Here is the recipe:

2 heads of cauliflower
1/3 cup olive oil
1 lb. spaghetti
1/2 cup grating cheese (more if desired)
black pepper to taste

Core cauliflower by cutting in to florets . Fill a tall pot 2/3 full with water and bring to a boil. Place the florets in the water and return to a boil. Continue boiling 6-7 minutes until tender (easily pierced with a fork).
In the meantime heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Remove the florets from the water with a slotted spoon and place in the pan. DO NOT DRAIN THE WATER FROM THE POT.
Place the spaghetti in to the boiling cauliflower water and cook until al dente, 8-10 minutes. Drain spaghetti in colander and reserve 2-3 cups of the boiling water.
Return the florets and the spaghetti to the large pot adding the reserved water. Stir in 1/2 cup of grating cheese and black pepper. Enjoy!

The afternoon promised to be a mix of sun and clouds so it was ideal for a brisk walk along the water. We came upon an intriguing group of stones in all shapes and sizes...mostly huge! We had found The Burlington Earth Clock. Circles for Peace, a non-profit organization, built this project on land provided by the Burlington Parks Department.
It is worth a trip to the site, it promises to be a great teaching tool for all who visit.

The weather continues to play with the inhabitants of the city. On a recent walk to the library the sun was shining. I, however, was not to be fooled. I ventured out with my rain jacket and sunglasses. This might seem like an odd outfit but alas...I used both. The last comment the library clerk said to me as I was leaving was "are you sure you don't want a plastic bag to keep those books dry?" She was correct, off came the sunglasses on went the rain jacket.

Knitting, quilting, baking, hiking, reading, meeting many interesting people...I am doing it all and more and its fascinating!

If you are trying to find what you want to do, what your passion is, don't worry, its there. Perhaps if you don't look too hard it will appear where you least expect it!