Coming into October

Thursday, October 6, 2011

And so it begins! My favorite month of the entire year. Every day the weather changes just a little bit more, signaling the end of summer and the beginning of my most favorite season.

October holds most of my favorites; weather that is cool and crisp, on the verge of shifting into winter; favorite smells like damp soil turned and mulched and put to bed; favorite signs of chimney smoke as the seasons’ first fires take the chill off cold houses in the early morning hours; favorite air, with the heady aroma of fallen leaves and spices. October also marks the beginning of favorite traditions and holidays.

We close a chapter now, taking time to reflect on months of planting and growing; harvesting and preserving, and look forward to hearty warming meals, a strict contrast to the vegetable or salad laden meals of warmer months.

There will be days of apple picking and gathering of pumpkins, but there will still be time to practice with our shotguns…skeet shooting and target practice at the local gun club. We’ve gotten dead on accurate with the .22 rifle, but are still working on getting comfortable with the shotgun. A 20 gauge seems easier to manage than the 12, but the weight and out stretched arms pose some balance issues. Kevin and Warren, our coaches, work with us on stance, posture, position, but a well fitted stock would probably resolve most of our troubles. But, that’s for another time.

The beginning of fall is about apples and pumpkins. Apples will be pressed into cider, sweet and cold and crisp; pumpkins will be made into butter, pies and quick breads. I found a new recipe for Pecan-Praline French Toast and was intrigued. Can’t wait to try it!

So there you have it folks…the first weekend of October is about shooting guns, seasonal baking, pressing cider, pork roasts in the crock pot and jonesing for the best this season has to offer. To help kick start your October try one of our seasonal favorites below.

Hearty Apple-Pecan Loaf

1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
¾ cup unbleached white flour
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
3 Tbsp brown sugar
½ cup pecans, chopped
1 cup dried apples, finely diced
1 cup buttermilk
1 Tbsp molasses

Preheat oven to 375. Lightly butter a cast-iron skillet or griddle then dust with flour.

In a medium bowl, mix the flours then cut in butter. Stir in baking powder, baking soda, salt, brown sugar, pecans, and apples.

In a small bowl mix together buttermilk and molasses. Slowly mix the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined and dough forms. Don’t over mix.

Use your hands to shape dough into an 8” long x 3” wide loaf. Place on skillet or griddle and make a slit down the middle using a sharp knife. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the top.

Spiced Pumpkin-Pecan Waffles

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 pinch salt
1 egg
1/8 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
7/8 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in large bowl.

In a second bowl, add eggs, sugar, pumpkin, milk, and butter; beat well.

Gently fold in the flour mixture.

Cook according to your waffle iron directions.

I use a Belgian waffle iron, which uses about 1 cup batter and takes 4-5 minutes to bake.

They come out a nice deep, golden brown. These are great with a bit of maple syrup and sprinkled with chopped pecans. Makes 4 waffles

Still to come… finishing the new raised beds in the vegetable garden and picking up another load of firewood. Happy October Folks!

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