Posts tagged ‘fall menus’

Fall Notes and Quotes

“Autumn is a season followed immediately by…looking forward to spring.”

Doug Larson 

That pretty much captures my beloved stepmother’s view of the season at hand, portent that it is of “winter, with its bitin’, whinin’ wind” (Roy Bean); “winter, when every mile is two” (George Herbert).  I’m  fascinated by how strongly – and diversely – we respond to the inevitable pressing on of days that delivers us from one quarterly astronomical period to the next. 

I have two cherished long-time friends, one who detests the cold and could never be lured away from her temperate Florida existence, and the other, who would dearly miss the distinct seasonal phases built into her northern Illinois locale.  I myself may rant a bit in the midst of a particularly frigid winter’s darkest, shortest day, but I am also flooded with inspiration at the sight of a bronze-leafed tree or the pristine glimmer of newly deposited snow.  

“Delicious autumn!  My very soul is wedded to it,

and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”

George Eliot a.k.a. Mary Ann Evans 

Thus far autumn’s eve is being ushered in by cold, damp winds and darkened skies – this, of course, following a 90 degree day succeeded closely by the first frost warning – but we still hope to be treated to a spell of classically mild, clear, sunny-crisp days in the weeks ahead.  As the local ducks rehearse formations for their mission of seeking eternal summer somewhere other than cruelly fickle Minnesota, neighborhood squirrels are aflutter with home-bound activity, as if to say, “You can’t fool me with this ‘Indian summer-not’ routine.”   

While I won’t go so far as the pseudonymous George Eliot, whose fervor over the movement of the sun across the celestial equator betrays her gender in a single phrase, I do find joy in the favorable jogging weather and the chameleon-like display as plain green leaves take on rich hues of goldenrod and fire-red, virtually over night.  But then a certain French philosopher says it better than I: 

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf’s a flower.”

Albert Camus 

A fleeting flower, to be sure, but glorious nonetheless – and valued all the more for its transience.  I, for one, can’t wait for the spectacle to begin. 

Throughout it all – suspense; anticipation; spine-tingling exhibitions of God’s incredible artistry; the challenge of bearing up under the harsher conditions to follow – we must, of course, keep up our strength.  As you may have noticed, the stoking of the human furnace is a mission this writer does not take lightly, warm weather or cold.  And since it’s been a while, I have a collection of enticing dishes to share with you, held together by no particular thematic thread, but poised to chase the chill from the most blustery autumn day. 

For that purpose, may I suggest Baked Chicken with Black Beans and Rice served with a simple tossed greens salad, Homemade Whole Wheat Flat Bread, and Ginger Snap Ice Cream Sandwiches or perhaps a menu of Crock Pot Pulled Beef with Dr. Pepper Barbecue Sauce served on toasted Homemade Ciabatta Buns, and along side Cole Slaw Lite, Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries, a melon basket, and Brownie Hot Fudge Ice Cream Bombé.    

For the final note and the last quote, non-foodies may jump to the last two paragraphs. (more…)

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September 24, 2011 at 1:44 am Leave a comment

Balance: It’s Not Just a Clever Name for Margarine

Courtesy of fotosearch.com

An aesthetically pleasing integration of elements.”  That’s Merriam Webster’s Definition Number Six-A for the term “balance.”  Number Five-B reads, “Equipoise between contrasting, opposing, or interacting elements.”  As I take my midday walk, I ponder how God’s nature offers up stunning examples of both definitions:  the nip of the chill autumn air against my cheek vs. the rich warmth of the seasonal colors enveloping me;  the bright pumpkin orange that pops up in farm fields, on doorsteps, and in countless harvest-time displays, countering the beige blandness of spent garden foliage. 

And then there is the more practical definition Number Three, “A counterbalancing force or influence,” as in the invigorating effect of fall crispness that causes us to step livelier, to really throw ourselves into those raking and bagging chores, but which also blesses us with the perfect conditions for a good, sound sleep at the end of our day’s efforts. 

This thought trail leads me to the deduction that good health is one of the natural world’s most profound examples of physical equilibrium, and that maintaining it presents some special challenges as the air turns cold and allergens like ragweed, mold, and dust mites join forces with flu and cold germs to begin their annual assault on our immune systems. 

Apples, oranges, pears; fiber-rich oatmeal, barley, and beans; yogurt, tea, pumpkin seeds; beef, selenium-rich pork, sweet potatoes; a 45-minute walk, a positive outlook, and that good night’s sleep.  These are all helpful wellness-promoting weapons to stow in your personal immunity-boosting arsenal.

As far as diet goes, a little research brought up some enticing cool-weather combinations to make stoking the immune system’s engine seem more like comfort than cure.  Some people tweet, I tweak – recipes, that is, to suit my goals of low-fat, high fiber, nutritionally dense fare, which I now offer to you.  May you find each to be “an aesthetically pleasing integration of elements.” 

For starters, Sweet Potato Soup With Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and a warm loaf of Date-Studded Honey Oat Quick Bread.   For the main course, Ginger and Orange Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Warm Apple and Lentil Salad.  And with so many naturally sweet ingredients worked into the menu, no dessert required.  Just a cup of steaming hot green tea to lock up that immune-defense storehouse of yours.  (more…)

October 21, 2010 at 5:37 pm Leave a comment

Cucina Rustica

This day broke with a frosty, sun-infused, crystal blue morning – perfect weather for a brisk pre-breakfast dog walk.  As my feet amble, my thoughts wander, and today that mental trek took me back through a cooking segment I happened to catch on T.V. last week, while working on a sewing project. 

By way of introduction, Rachel Ray called the combo of baked sausages with grapes a classic;  “Been around forever,” I think is the quote.  I’d never prepared it personally, but I was intrigued by her idea of adding chicken to the mix, and of course I fiddled quite a bit with the preparations.  My lightened version was a big enough hit at my Tuesday night in-law supper that I can highly recommend to you a menu of Baked Chicken with Italian Turkey Sausage and Black Grapes, Baked Brie with Multigrain Toast Triangles, Steamed Green Beans, some perhaps redundant Pan-Stewed Apple Slices, and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake.   

Based on crowd approval, I envision this adaptation of the main dish recipe becoming a re-run in my household.  Gotta’ love those rustic Italian cooks. (more…)

November 20, 2009 at 9:19 pm Leave a comment


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Recipe. According to Encarta, "a list of ingredients and instructions for making something." The thesaurus offers the alternate terms, "formula, guidelines, directions, steps, technique."

And what is the "something" we are aiming for here? Simply a life of robust good health in every important area - spiritual, physical, cognitive, and emotional.

To that end we offer inspirational real-life stories about PEOPLE OF FAITH AND COURAGE; menus and cooking directions meant to fuel your creative inclinations and your healthy body in the form of MUSINGS OF A MIDWESTERN FOODIE; and ADVICE FOR LIFE from the perspective of those who have lived it to maturity. (Click on the green category tabs at the top of this page to learn more about each section.)

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