Fall Hill

View from my front porch

 

 

Fall is Here!

( A Fall song, to the tune of “Three Blind Mice”)

Fall is here!

Fall is here!

See how the leaves

fall from the trees.

The leaves turn yellow

and red and brown.

They fall so slowly to the ground.

The boys and girls

dance around,

‘cause fall is here!

 

Every autumn for over 25 years I taught that song to the children in my primary classroom. The children loved the song and the sign language and gestures I taught them to go with it. There’s no telling how many times I sang that little tune, but it definitely carved a permanent pathway in my brain. When the first leaves begin to turn I still find that song twirling around in my head. This morning as I walked the dog along our dusty mountain road I realized I was humming, “Fall is Here!” while my eyes feasted on the colors of the foliage all along our path.

 

Fall is my favorite season. I love watching the trees change color and the leaves swirl as they blow in the wind. I love scuffing my feet through the crackling piles that gather along the roadsides. Nature turns out a show-stopping color extravaganza as her finale before the hiatus of winter.

 

When I was teaching, fall was such a busy time of year that I often didn’t get a chance to enjoy it properly. My attention was occupied with lesson plans, report cards, and other school related tasks. When I lived in south Florida for four years, I missed Autumn terribly. My mother would send me large manila envelopes filled with red, yellow and orange leaves. I would inhale their musty, tangy scent and then scatter them on the floor to crunch under my feet.

Fall River

Now I am fortunate enough to have the time and the right place to observe the subtle changes daily. In the last week I have watched from my front porch and yard as fall crept down the surrounding mountains and into the river valley below. The yellows have been prominent, but now the reds and oranges are beginning to appear. It is so lovely and I can enjoy it all day long.

 

To me, fall is a contemplative time of year- looking back on the busy days of summer and anticipating the long winter evenings of quieter pursuits. It is a time of planning and preparation: stocking the pantry and freezer, making thick stews and soups, baking hearty breads and apple and pumpkin flavored goodies. It is putting away the t-shirts and digging out the sweaters and blankets.

 

There’s a soft rain falling and a pleasant cool breeze as I sit on my front porch with my mug of Earl Grey tea. I have beef vegetable soup ( recipe below) bubbling in the slow cooker on the kitchen counter. Later I will make corn muffins to go with it for supper.

 

There’s a pair of bluejays calling from my apple tree and cardinals at the bird feeder. The hummingbird feeder now sits idle; the summer-time feeding frenzy is over for another season. The ladybugs are clustered by the dozens on my porch, stoop, and threshold, no doubt plotting an invasion to the cozy corners of our cabin.

 

Yes, fall is here, in all her glory. I remind myself to take it all in, to watch, to sit in this season, with all of its good gifts. There are holidays and festivals to enjoy, pumpkin bread to bake and eat, and memories to make. Happy fall! Fall is here!

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A Recipe

I love reading cookbooks, novels that contain recipes, food memoirs, and cooking blogs. I know I am not alone in this habit, as food blogs are some of the most popular sites on the Internet. I subscribe to several and always look forward to their weekly or daily posts. I love to cook and I seek out new recipes to try. My personal goal is to make at least two new recipes for dinner each month. Some are added to my repertoire, while others are a one-time attempt. I especially like slow cooker recipes since I can prepare the food, plug it in and then go about my day. I appreciate folks who generously share their go-to time-saving meals.

 

In that spirit I am sharing my recipe for Slow Cooker Beef Vegetable Soup for anyone who might be interested. This is one of the meals in the fall and winter “rotation” as my husband calls it.

 

Soup

1 pound lean stew beef cut into 1-inch chunks

4 cups small red potatoes cut into fourths

1 small onion, chopped.

32 oz. frozen mixed vegetables, thawed

1 can Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained

1 can diced Italian style tomatoes ( I use the no salt added variety)

1 32 oz. container beef stock ( I use the no salt added variety)

2 Tbsp minced garlic

2 bay leaves

1tsp cumin

1tsp coriander

1tsp garlic powder

1tsp. onion powder

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp rosemary

1tsp. Italian seasoning.

2 TBsp Seasoned salt. ( optional. If you choose to omit this, add more, to taste, of other seasonings)

2-4 cups water.

 

 

Place beef chunks in a bowl and add ½  each of the cumin, pepper, coriander, garlic powder, onion powder and seasoned salt. Toss to coat.

 

In a skillet brown the beef on all sides in 1 tbsp of olive oil.

Place meat in bottom of slow cooker.

Add potatoes, vegetables, beans, and tomatoes to the slow cooker.

Pour beef stock into a bowl and stir in remaining dried spices, minced garlic, and bay leaves. Add mixture to slow cooker.

Add 2-4 cups of water to cover ingredients.

Cook on high for 5- 6 hours or low for 8-9, until potatoes are done but not too soft.

Serve with corn muffins. or a hearty loaf of homemade bread.

 

This soup will keep in the fridge for 4 days. We actually think it tastes better the second day.

What do you love about fall?

Do you have any recipes to share?