September 30, 2011

Gardening in Autumn

 Katherine Whiteside says gardening ought to be energizing, inspiring, edible and exciting!  Whether you have a half acre of land in the country or a tiny patch of grass in the city, whether you’re an experienced digger or you’ve never held a trowel, Whiteside offers forty-one versatile projects that will make anyone into a proud gardener!

I have discovered a fabulous new gardening book entitled The Way We Garden Now.  Miss Katherine,  known as House Beautiful’s Garden Goddess, tackles every aspect of creating beautiful and personal gardens, from making a new bed to adding decorative details. Ms. Whiteside believes that “fretting over having a perfect garden is not fun, but getting out there and accomplishing basic garden goals will always leave you happily fulfilled.” To that end, she shows how to create the garden that’s just right for you by mixing and matching projects according to your skill level, space limitations, climate, and even how much time you have. The Way We Garden Now is graced with whimsical watercolors, fun sidebars, and Whiteside’s expert tips.

Only 50 miles outside of New York City, Katherine Whiteside's home in Garrison, NY, sits on 4 rolling acres in the Hudson River Valley. "It's Zone 5 at the top of the hill and Zone 4 at the bottom."

Sentimental Handmade Bench

"Autumn is my favorite season. My garden in planned to crescendo in September and October, with more flowers and food than imaginable. It makes a beautiful backdrop for late-season annuals that keep going until Thanksgiving. It makes me want to be outside!"

Protecting a batch of peonies by topping skinny posts with gourds
Beautiful garden tools
Displaying gourds on windowsill

Apple Tree Surrounded by Two Sets
of Picnic Benches. What a Great Place
To Sit and Watch Wildlife

Fresh Garden Produce Displayed on her Kitchen Table
The Scarecrow Named "Sheryl Crow"

When asked, "How does nature influence the way you decorate?".....Katherine's reply was,

"I'm a real nature nut. I painted my walls soft, warm sunrise/sunset colors because the sky is so pretty at those times. Plus those colors make people's complexions look beautiful, too. Vanity can be a good thing! I always try to bring something new from the gardens inside to display. It reminds everyone how the seasons continually offer us beautiful things to look at-even in winter."

September 29, 2011

The Grand Hotel...Our Summer Place

Childhood memories of summer vacations often fill my thoughts. How fortunate we were as children to experience some of the most wonderful, educational and fun-filled family trips during the summers growing up in Jackson, Mississippi. Mother and Daddy adored planning our trips and vacation spots each year. All of our trips included driving or flying to a different state and having the opportunity to experience fine dining, tours of grand homes, and spending weeks at beautiful hotels. One of the most memorable trips we had was traveling to Michigan and spending a week on Mackinaw Island at The Grand Hotel.

 The week was the annual meeting and gathering of friends and members of The Flying Physicians. The island was magical...almost going back in time of lazy summer days on a quaint coastal island where the homes are exquisite with their landscaping, only bicycles and horses are allowed for getting around the island and shops selling homemade fudge, candy and homemade goodies are abundant. We toured the island both by bicycles- built- for -two and by horse drawn carriages. Once I learned that Esther Williams swam in that huge Olympic sized swimming pool, I headed straight down the hill in my new bathing suit and pretended I was making my own movie with all the water acrobats I could invent. Oh, to be a kid again!! If you should ever have the opportunity to travel to Michigan, try to plan to trip over to Mackinaw Island and experience the charm of the past.

Mackinac Island is about 8 miles in circumference and 3.8 square miles in total area. The highest point of the island is the historic Fort Holmes (originally called Fort George by the British before 1815). According to the 2010 census, the island has a year-round population of 492. The population grows considerably during the summer as hotels, restaurants, bars and retail shops, open only during the summer season, hire short-term employees to accommodate as many as 15,000 visitors per day.

The  Grand Hotel opened in 1887 and was  billed as a summer retreat for vacationers who arrived by lake steamer from Chicago, Erie, Montreal, Detroit, and by rail from across the continent. Room Rates were $3 to $5 a night. In the 1890s, The Grand Hotel's Front Porch,noted as the longest in the world—becomes the principal meeting place for all of Mackinac Island, as well as a promenade for the elderly and a "Flirtation Walk" for island romantics. Grand Hotel Manager James "The Comet" Hayes invites an agent of Edison Phonograph to conduct regular demonstrations of the new invention. In 1895  Mark Twain gave a lecture in the Grand Hotel Casino and  Admission would have cost you $1.00. At the turn of the century, the automobile found its way onto the island. The Grand Hotel supported an island-wide ban and a law was passed, but not strictly enforced until the 1930s.

In the year of 1919, the  hotel raised it's rates to  $6.00 a day per person. It was in 1947 that the movie, " This Time For Keeps", starring Jimmy Durante and Esther Williams was filmed on the island and at Grand Hotel. Another movie, "Somewhere In Time", was filmed at Grand Hotel in 1980 which starred Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour, and Christopher Plummer.

In 1998,  five new Named Rooms in honor of former First Ladies Lady Bird Johnson, Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, and Barbara Bush were added to the west end of the hotel. Two new two-bedroom suites, the Grand and the Carleton Varney, were also added to the west end. It was during the year 2002 that "The Jacqueline Kennedy Suite"  was added.

It takes 500,000 gallons of water to fill Grand Hotel's Esther Williams swimming pool.
There are more than 500 horses on Mackinac Island.

Five U.S. Presidents — Clinton, Bush, Ford, Kennedy, and Truman — have visited Grand Hotel.

One ton of bulbs are planted in the fall, including 25,000 tulips and 15,000 daffodils.

More than 125,000 bedding plants (annuals) are used to create the many gardens on Grand Hotel grounds.


September 28, 2011

Trick or Treat Night Favorites

In Celtic days, Oct. 31 was the eve of Samhain, which brought the first day of cold and barren winter. In ancient times, the transition from autumn to winter included the return of the souls of the departed to the
warmth and light they remembered from living days.
 In Ireland, it was thought that on that night fairies ventured forth.

A Maine House Mosaic

We always look forward to Halloween. The neighborhoods come alive with children running from house to house with sheer happiness and anticipation of what goodies will be dropped into their little pumpkin pails. Abbs and Noah always paid a visit to Grandma and Papa's house in Texas, where we had warm and hearty casseroles for dinner before the night's adventures began. Luke the Duke was a perfect Bob the Builder last year and I believe, he is going to be a "cute little nightmare" this year. His costume resembles a cookie monster of sorts so I am certain there will be great pictures to follow. Estelle's is preparing a grown- up tuna dish for the adults and a favorite ravioli pasta casserole the children always request. We all look forward to the featured cupcakes, which are going to be chocolate chip this year!

Estelle's Grown Up Tuna-Noodle Casserole

1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for baking dishes
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pound wide egg noodles
2 red bell peppers (ribs and seeds removed), thinly sliced
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
5 cups whole milk
4 cans (6 ounces each) tuna in olive oil, drained
1 can (14 ounces) artichoke hearts, drained and thickly sliced
5 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil two 8-inch square (or other shallow 2-quart) baking dishes. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook noodles until 2 minutes short of al dente; drain, and return to pot.
Meanwhile, in a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over medium. Add bell peppers; season with salt and pepper. Cook until crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Gradually add milk, stirring until smooth. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a simmer.
Remove from heat; add mixture to noodles in pot, along with tuna, artichoke hearts, and scallions. Season with salt and pepper, and toss. Divide between prepared baking dishes, and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake until golden and bubbling, about 20 minutes.

Estelle's Baked Ravioli
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme, or oregano
1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
2 pounds store-bought frozen ravioli
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and season with salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add thyme and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, breaking up tomatoes with spoon, until sauce is thickened and reduced to about 5 1/2 cups, 20 to 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook ravioli in a large pot of boiling salted water just until they float to the top (pasta will continue to cook in oven). Drain pasta; return to pot.Toss sauce with pasta. Pour pasta into a large gratin dish or 9-by-13-inch baking dish, and sprinkle with cheeses. Bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.

Estelle's Chocolate Chip Cupcakes
3 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 ounces (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
5 large egg whites, room temperature
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Make cupcakes as directed in Basic Cupcake How-To, omitting eggs and using milk and vanilla for wet ingredients. Beat egg whites to stiff peaks, and fold into batter. Fold in chocolate chips. Bake cupcakes about 22 minutes. Frost withyour favorite buttercream icing.

Chocolate Chip Frosting
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Basic Buttercream

Fold chocolate chips into buttercream. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. (Bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed before using

September 27, 2011

A Scheduled Life...Making Time for Family Dinners

I grew up with a scheduled life. As a child growing up in the 50's and 60's, we knew our responsibilities and what was expected of us. We got up every morning and wandered sleepily into the kitchen. Mother would always have breakfast ready for us. Daddy usually had left much earlier having to be at the hospital for an early surgery case. Our breakfasts were often times, homemade oatmeal, egg on toast or banana's with sugar and milk. Funny.....I was thinking of this breakfast dish while the grandhcildren were visiting and they had never had that before. So I asked them if they would like to try this?  Well, it was a hit, something as simple, quick and easy as this! We then returned to our bedrooms, made our beds, prepared ourselves for school and out the door we went to wait for the school bus. Upon returning from school, Mother had a snack ready, and then it was homework time or off to numerous after school activities. I wanted to participate in everything I lessons, piano lessons, dance classes (from elementary through high school), and horseback riding at Stockett Stables. Then it was time for dinner, our family dinner. We always began by blessing our food.

Mother liked cooking for her family. We loved her cooking and we enjoyed each other. I am certain we had our quota of family worries in the sixties, but I am thankful for the feeling of belonging at mealtimes. We grew up with a willingness to work and that there was a place and time for play. When we participated in these after school activities we learned to obey the rules and respect our teachers. We knew we were growing up safely and healthy with the freedom to make choices. My wish is that today's young children, grow up with similar values. Family structure, schedules, a secure feeling of being well  taken care of and enjoying each other during family dinners as they share stories of their day.

2 cups cooked egg noodles
2 (10 3/4-ounce) cans cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup dry sherry
4 cups chopped cooked chicken
3 cups grated sharp cheese, your choice, divided
1 (2 1/4-ounce) package slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 cup drained, chopped pimentos
1 (4-ounce) can sliced mushrooms, drained
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, toss together the noodles, soup, broth, and sherry. Add the chicken, 2 cups of the cheese, the almonds, pimento, mushrooms, and salt and pepper, to taste, and toss gently to combine. Transfer the mixture to a greased 13 by 9 by 2-inch casserole and top with the remaining cup of cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, or until bubbly

Estelle's Roasted Asparagus
2 pounds fresh asparagus
Olive oil
Coarse Ground Sea Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Break off the tough ends of the asparagus and, if they're thick, peel them. Place the asparagus on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, then toss to coat the asparagus completely. Spread the asparagus in a single layer and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast the asparagus for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender, but still crisp!

3/4 c. all-purpose flour, divided
3/4 c. light brown sugar, divided
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/3 c. quick cooking oats
3 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
3 pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 lemon, zested and juiced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 2 quart casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 c. flour, 1/2 c. brown sugar, butter, oats and cinnamon; mix until large pieces form. (I cut the butter into the dry ingredients with my pastry blender.) Set aside. In a large bowl, combine 1/4 c. flour, 1/4 c. brown sugar, apples, pears, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice and 1 tsp. lemon zest. Spread fruit in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle oat mixture evenly over top.
Bake @ 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until fruit mixture is tender and bubbly. Cool 15 minutes.
Top with fresh whipped cream!

September 26, 2011

Vintage Quilts

The architecture in New England is well worth exploring. The Maine House is Colonial style, which was number one on my wish list while house hunting. I have collected quilts ever since we have been married. Mother adored quilts so I suppose I inherited this passion from Miss Helen. Both of my grandmothers had handmade quilts and often displayed them throughout their Ohio homes. Miss Judy also shares this love of collecting quilts and it certainly is enjoyable and educational learning about each other's latest find. Colonial homes lend themselves as the perfect setting in displaying quilts. Here are a few rooms at The Maine House that are made comfy, cozy in our quilt collection. I think one of my favorite ways is to use them as tablecovers for holiday dinners, in addition to displaying them in the bedrooms.

The Coastal Room...Blue and Yellow Toile, paired with  an Ivory Apothecary quilt which is light enough for summer or as an extra layer for chilly nights.
 The design is inspired by vintage tin ceilings

 A Perfect Setting for Morning New England Coffee in the Garden

Freshly Picked Apples against Yellow Toile Pillow

Vintage Tea Towels from Dr. Bo's Great Aunt
paired with Grandmother's Tatted Dresser Scarf
displayed over the cottage throw pillows

Estelle's Antique Windsor Chair in the garden

Quilt Rack in The Cottage Room

The Waverly Quilt Patterns in The Cottage Room

Soft Sage, Burgundy and Cream in the Master Bedroom
 Displayed on a Traditional Queen Anne Four Poster Bed

My favorite fall quilt which provides the perfect background for Autumn dinners.
I often used this for our Texas Thanksgivings!

Summers on The Beach

Now here is my  new find! This quilt was made by Margaret Solomon Gunn, who resides right here  in our own little New England village. She entitled her pattern as "Summer on the Beach!" Oh, be still my heart. Miss Margaret commented that this is her original design and  was made over an 18 month period.  It has been to a couple quilt shows, earning ribbons at each. I have put a little request in Darling's ear that this would make a perfect anniversary gift for us. Well for me really. He laughed. Since we will be celebrating our 39th wedding anniversary in November and our most memorable family trips are always spent during the summer months on Santa Rosa Island, what better heirloom to pass down to the children representing our lives together! Perfect....a Maine Quilt! I hope he remembers!

September 25, 2011

Flea Market Fairs and Fried Pies!

The Maine House is preparing to welcome long time friends from Texas. We experienced many great travel trips with this delightful couple. So often, our little excursions became a tradition. We made dates for Friday night dinners, our yearly weekend in December of the Christmas Holiday of Homes tour and spending the day scouring the antique booths at First Monday in Canton, Texas. This brought to mind that I wanted to seek out great flea markets around the country that we could possibly visit.

If you have never experienced First Monday, then please make plans to go! This is the largest flea market we have ever been to and it is well worth the trip. This enormous monthly flea market often attracts 300,000 visitors to Canton, Texas, where up to 7,500 vendors fill 28 miles of tables stocked with everything from antique jewelry to farm equipment to tube socks. In addition to some of the best deals you will ever receive, Canton offers some of the most delicious food. You will find yourself going back for their fried pies, hamburgers, tacos and turkey legs. Perhaps it just tasted better out of doors among the fair!! Canton Trade Days are held the first Monday of every month, but it actually begins the Friday before.  

The Marburger Farm Antique Show Industrial art, architectural remnants, and 19th-century antiques abound at this popular, 350-plus dealer show in Round Top, Texas, which kicks off a few days after summer's official close.

The Raleigh Flea Market is known for its reasonably priced antiques, collectibles, and treasures-in-the-rough, this 600-vendor market takes place at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds every Saturday and Sunday.

Plan a trip to Atlanta, Georgia to attend one of the gigantic indoor shows held by Scott Antique Markets. Held monthly, Scott's boasts more than 2,000 vendors and loads of hard-to-find antiques from a variety of eras and regions.
This is held the second weekend of each month.

If visiting the New Hampshire Antiques Show, you will find admirers of fine American antiques — Federal sideboards, Windsor chairs, Chippendale sofas — won't want to miss this small (68-vendor), carefully curated exhibition in Manchester, New Hampshire.

The Brimfield Antique Show is held along a one-mile stretch of Route 20 in Brimfield, Massachusetts, and this legendary event boasts 6,000 dealers specializing in everything from affordable Bakelite bangles to high-end Victorian parlor furniture. The giant Brimfield Barn overflows with old lighting fixtures, estate silver, and Early American furniture. I can't wait to experience this one!

The Country Living Fair is held in Columbus, Ohio’s charming Ohio Village, and is an annual festival which plays host to some 200 vendors. Meet the artisans and craftspeople, listen to live music, and  attend cooking demos.  This year their fair dates are September 16-18th, 2011 in Columbus, Ohio and Oct 21-23 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Best Country Apple Fried Pies
2 tablespoons butter
4 McIntosh apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 (8-piece) container refrigerated flaky biscuit dough
Estelle's uses Grand Biscuits

To Prepare the filling, add the butter to a large saute pan and melt. Add the apples, sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice and cook over medium heat until the apples are soft, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool. When the filling is cool, roll the biscuits out on a lightly floured surface so that each biscuit forms a 7 to 8-inch circle. Place 2 to 3 tablespoons of the filling on 1/2 of each circle. Brush the edges of the circle with water. Fold the circle over the filling to make a half-moon shapes. Seal by pressing the edges with the tines of a fork. Heat a deep fryer or a deep pot halfway filled with oil to 350 degrees F.
Carefully add the pies to the oil, 1 at a time, and fry until golden brown, turning the pies as necessary for even browning, about 5 to 8 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with sugar while hot.

September 24, 2011

The Reading Corner....A Beautiful Novel of Dreams Gone Awry

If there is one thing that interests me in reading fiction, it is anything in which the story takes place in Mississippi. I love reading about someones thoughts, what is inside their hearts and what their dreams are. The main character must be someone that I can identify with...someone that I know would become a dear friend in real life.

Miss Judy introduced me to Penelope Stokes, wh0 was featured in one of my previous posts. I think you will enjoy her writings, her penchant for storytelling and the manner in which her stories will touch your heart.

Twenty-three years ago, Mississippi beauty queen, Priscilla Bell (nicknamed "Peach") sauntered out of her mama' s antebellum home in Chulahatchie, Mississippi, shook off the dust on her pretty pumps, and vowed never to return. Now, God help her, divorced and lonely, she's back trying to figure out how her life went so terribly wrong.

Upon the advice of her psychiatrist, Peach bumps around her childhood home, remembering the old times, looking at the old photos and seems to lack any real purpose in her life. In order to escape her mama's scrutinizing gaze, we find her visiting The Heartbreak Cafe, sitting in the back booth and scribbling away in her private journal, an aging beauty queen and lonely. She quietly observes the unlikely group of folks that visit the diner everyday with all of their hidden secrets and past hardships.

 She meets Charles Chase at the Piggly Wiggly (part of my childhood-we loved the Piggly Wiggly) and realizes that she may be ready for another try at love after all. He was sweet, considerate, down to earth, cute and pretty understanding. What secrets could he be hiding? She never took him home to meet her mama.

"I see mama sitting here in her blue striped housedress and no makeup, watching the sun go down over the river. She can't understand how the evening light sets Mama's white hair aflame with the auburn tints of her girlhood or illuminates her face like candlelight. I'm not claiming it'll stay this way. I'm sure there will be times she'd like to kill me and I will want to wring her neck. But I meant what I said with all my heart, about wanting her to stay. I still mean it. Like everyone else in this world, I'm just doing the best I can. Sometimes you have to go home to find out who you really are."

September 23, 2011

Homemade Harvest

The Maine House is preparing to welcome the harvest season. I admit, this is a time when I really....really....totally miss the children and grandchildren. My Halloween Village will remain boxed this is meant for the grandchildren and sadly they will be in Texas and Atlanta. It is our tradition to take it carefully out of the boxes, lovingly unwrap each piece and then build our little village. We would then stand back, light the houses and gaze at our creation. Sigh.......perhaps next year. When we first visited New England a few years ago, I could not comprehend that after years of wanting to see this part of the country, my first visit would actually be at the most beautiful time of year....the harvest season in October. Fall is my very favorite time of year. Darling and I married in the month of November and the seasonal colors of burnt oranges, mossy greens and rich eggplant are the colors that seem to provide happiness and comfort during autumn. Maine could not be more alive with pumpkin patches, scarecrows, wheat sheaths and vibrant colors of chrysanthemums displayed everywhere! I thought I would share some of my favorite autumn collectibles which are on display in our home and a quick and easy pumpkin recipe to prepare for your own precious children!

A Maine House Mosaic

Adorable! I purchased this at Yankee Candle years ago!

I love throws everywhere! This is a super soft golden wheat popcorn throw by
 Joan Lunden.
Mae Mobley claimed it for her own shortly after it arrived!

A favorite little vintage Halloween jester!

Mother's Dining Buffet

Estelle's Harvest Dining Table

"Autumn begins with a subtle change in the light,
with skies a deeper blue, and nights that become
suddenly clear and chilled.
The season comes full with the first frost,
the disappearance of migrant birds, and the
harvesting of the season's last crops."
- Glenn Wolff and Jerry Dennis

2 cups flour
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
2 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt
4 eggs
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
1-2/3 C sugar
1 C vegetable oil
3/4 C chopped pecans

Combine the flour, baking soda and powder, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing beat together the eggs, pumpkin, sugar and oil with a mixer on medium speed. Add the flour mixture; beat until well combined. If desired, stir in the chopped pecans. Spread batter into an ungreased 15" x 10" x 1" sheet pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Frost. Sprinkle some of the cake with chopped pecans. Cut into squares to serve. Store in the refrigerator.

Cream Cheese Frosting
4 ounce cream cheese, softened
1/2 stick butter, softened
2 Cups  powdered sugar
1 t vanilla

Beat together in a medium bowl until smooth. Frost the cake when completely cool. Sprinkle 3/4 C chopped pecans over the frosted cake.

September 22, 2011

The Orchards

Autumn in New England means warm, sunny days followed by
cool brisk nights.

 The crackle and scent of a wood-burning fire, long walks shuffling through fallen leaves along country roads or through traditional villages, shopping for unique hand-made gifts and annual craft and agricultural fairs. Fall can also mean a round of golf and snowcover for the first turns of the season.

A Maine House Mosaic

Motoring over to the apple orchard and spending a late morning picking apples was one of the best experiences we have ever had. I adore these family owned farms set within the valleys, surrounded by mountains of autumn hues. Not only was this a picture perfect setting, the aroma of fresh apples mingled with the scent of hot apple cider, apple cinnamon donuts being made and the crisp, fresh autumn air....I tell you....if you have never been apple picking in New England, please put this on your bucket list!

Autumn Orchard Apple Sauce
8 assorted apples
 (mix of any varieties, Estelle's uses Gala and McIntosh) 
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup sweet apple cider
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons apple or pear brandy (optional)

Peel and core apples; cut into big chunks. In a medium-size saucepan, toss apples with lemon juice. Add cider, sugar, and cinnamon; bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Let cool 20 minutes. Discard cinnamon. Mash to the consistency you prefer, be it smooth or chunky! This is wonderful when paired with grilled pork chops!

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
 1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 egg
 3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
 3/4 cup peeled, cored, and finely chopped apple
brown sugar for sprinkling tops

Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon into a large bowl. Combine the brown sugar and oats, and add to the flour mixture. Beat the egg, milk, and oil together and add to the flour-oats mixture, blending well. Fold in the apple.

Spoon into paper-lined muffin tins or tins that have been greased or coated with no-stick cooking spray and sprinkle tops with additional sugar. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F. oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

“But I remember more dearly autumn afternoons in bottoms that lay intensely silent under old great trees”
- C. S. Lewis