August

August

September 21, 2011

Warm Memories of Autumns Past

The air this season is earthy, with a touch of mustiness, as if it has been around for a long time and is just now uncovered Just as the scent of autumn is timeless and known; there is a strength and serenity that the season brings that I want to embrace. This feeling, although sometimes hidden deep within, is always with me, and I find I need it most this time of year.



I recall my beautiful and warm childhood memories, flipping through photo albums and remembering with quite thoughts and soft smiles, past adventures that happened amid gently falling leaves, which will feed my sense of well-being through the cold, bleak and gray winter season that follows. Picking apples, harvesting blueberries at Grandmother’s, making pies with Mother, burning leaves at the edge of Hartsdale are traditions, both old and new that create a sense of continuity. ...recalling memories of climbing mountains in Tennessee during one of our yearly camping trips in The Great Smoky Mountains or a favorite photo of daddy and me sitting by the campfire at Elkmont listening, without speaking, as the hickorywood crackled and popped. It has no true description, but is instead that smell that the first cool day of September ushers in, the aroma of autumn.






It also triggers a flurry of activity, this smell of autumn. No longer able to live in the denial that summer has faded; the wood for the winter must be moved closer to the house, than further back in the woodlands. The occasional bonfire smoke column will soon give way to the quilt of wood smoke in the village. However, there is an awful lot of wood to stack before then! Raking leaves, transplanting and splitting garden plants, harvesting the last of the garden’s bounty, winterizing the house and the deck, autumn’s list seems infinite.







Smell is such a powerful memory tool. I count down to the applesauce making weekend and the subtle, sticky sweetness that fills the house and covers the windows with apple steam. I check on the garden daily, on the verge of salivating, thinking about the first ripe pumpkins of the season and the hunger-inducing smell of fresh pumpkin pie baking.





Finally, it is time to find a balance in this undefined time we have to walk the earth. With that woody and mossy aroma and a sky accented with a palette of reds, oranges, yellows, pinks, and browns, it is the perfect time to give definition to our lives.






These are our favorite family fall appetizers that I made when the children were young. Every year, when we lived in Dothan, Alabama, we would look forward to the Peanut Festival Parade and the October town fairs. After we attended the Saturday parade and day of fun out in Landmark Park, we would head home and gather in that huge kitchen to warm up on these delicious appetizers. Ah..this brings me back to such warm memories of our darling children!







ESTELLE'S AUTUMN CHILI CHEESE DIP
1 can Hormel Chili with Beans
1 package of Monterey Jack Pepper Cheese
Ritz Crackers

Place one can of Chili with Beans in a medium sized round baking dish. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the Monterey Jack Pepper Cheese into cubes and combine with the chili. Heat in the oven about 30 minutes until cheese has been thoroughly melted and combined well with the chili. Serve hot with ritz crackers for dipping!





ESTELLE'S AUTUMN PUMPKIN CHEESE BALL
1 package (8 ounces) Cream Cheese, softened
1 carton (8 ounces)  Chive and Onion Cream Cheese Spread
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 celery rib or broccoli stalk
Sliced apples and assorted crackers


In a small bowl, beat cream cheeses until smooth. Stir in the cheddar cheese, paprika and cayenne. Shape into a ball; wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 4 hours or until firm. With a knife, add vertical lines to the cheese ball to resemble a pumpkin; insert a celery rib or broccoli stalk for the stem. Serve with apples and crackers!





ESTELLE'S SPICED AUTUMN CIDER
2 quarts apple cider
 1/2 cup molasses
 4 lemon slices, cut in half
12 whole cloves
2 (2-inch) cinnamon sticks
1/4 cup lemon juice
Garnishes: cinnamon sticks,lemon wedges, whole cloves




Bring cider and next 4 ingredients to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally; reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks and cloves with a slotted spoon; stir in lemon juice. Garnish with lemon wedges, cloves and cinnamon sticks!







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