9.30.13 Into the Woods (& a GiveAway!)

Leaves 790 xxx
iphotos by gluttonforlife
Fall has arrived, right on schedule. The nights are crisp and clear, making for excellent sleeping weather. We like the windows open and the duvet pulled up around our ears. The days feature those intensely blue high-pressure skies, a perfect showcase for the brilliant hues of the turning leaves. The woods beckon, still fresh and mossy, with pockets of green and the promise of mushrooms. I want nothing more than to be outside right now...unless I am curled up in front of the fire, feet toasty and a good book open in my lap, a cocktail close at hand. The pantry is stocked, the freezer is full and I am holding fast to these last days before the weather turns.
Marsh 790 xxx
painterly views
In the marsh, you can clearly see that nature's artistry is the inspiration for master landscaper Piet Oudolf. The dying sedges and marsh grass create bands of color worthy of an Impressionist painter. In the branches of a tall bare tree, we saw four bald eagles yesterday. We heard their sharp cries first and were then rewarded with that rare sight.
Red leaves 790 xxx
bursts of color
Part of the homework for the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course I am taking is to really pay attention to the minutiae of an activity, be it eating, brushing my teeth, whatever. I find that walking in the woods keeps me very present, alert to immediate sensations, colors and sounds. Everything else seems to fade away and I am neither in the past nor the future but, optimally, in the moment.
Ferns 790 xxx
bleach job
Color is compelling when it is heightened and intense, but also when it fades. These hay-scented ferns are slowly leached of their green, first going brown and then a ghostly white, before they disappear altogether. And they are beautiful at every phase, an obvious metaphor so I will not beat you over the head with it.
Frog 790 xxx
moss dweller
In our quest for mushrooms, we went deeper and deeper into the woods, finally coming across a low-lying area where water deposits, covered in thick moss like a velvet carpet. Because of the cold, mosquitoes are no longer an issue, but there are some other critters we like encountering, like this fellow who stood still for his portrait.
Coral 790 xxx
fungus among us
Sadly, it is not shaping up to be a very good season for mushrooms. We have found a few lion's manes, which are good eating, and I did come across a large hen of the woods, unfortunately already in an advanced state of decay. But this mossy area gave up a pretty substantial haul of yellowfoot chanterelles, and our go-to spot has yielded a few handfuls of black trumpet mushrooms.
Mushrooms 790 xxx
wild things
In honor of the inimitable Marcella Hazan, who ascended to her kitchen in the sky yesterday, we cooked these right up for a wild mushroom risotto. (We used shallots instead of leeks, sherry instead of white wine and vermouth, and doubled the Parmesan.) One of her most important lessons is to use high heat when making risotto. Add the hot stock and keep stirring until you think the rice is just about to scorch, and only then add more. According to Marcella, high heat helps in the absorption and gives you a more tender, flavorful risotto. She would know.
Apples 790 xxx
one a day
What we lack in mushrooms, we make up in apples. It is such a delight to pick from our two trees and and from our friend Julia's small but bountiful orchard. I also made G stop at every roadside apple tree we passed (and there are many), to sample the seemingly endless heritage varieties growing in these parts. Some are tart, some tart-sweet, some very sweet—and all floral, flavorful, complex, delicious. We brought home two bushels and there are many, many more still left on the trees.
Rr 790 xxx
local columnist
I thought apples would make a fitting topic for my first piece in our local paper, The River Reporter. My column, entitled Relish Every Day, will run once a month and feature a recipe that uses local/seasonal ingredients. This time it was for roasted applesauce, a simple and homey dish that is perfect right now. Here's a slightly different one you make on the stove.

In the spirit of stocking the pantry, I have put together a big box of my homemade jams, chutneys, flavored salts, fruit leather, etc. for a special Fall Giveaway. To be eligible to win, all you need to do is leave a comment below by midnight on Sunday 10/6, telling me what you love most about fall. xo


I have to go with the mushrooms too! Remember the tree where you found the hen of the woods and be sure to check it earlier next fall! I made my first ever set of dill pickles this weekend, so looking forward to those after a few months!
Jack Barnett on September 30, 2013 at 5:12 pm —
You still have cucumbers?! Amazing.
laura on October 1, 2013 at 2:23 pm —
The sharp change of weather is exhilarating, even in the more subtle changes in southern California. Apples are a special highlight, making an annual trip to Oakglen near Yucaipa. And as much as this season is a fallow time for growth, it provides me time for reflection and inspiration for what comes next! lots of love to you for providing this reminder! xoxo
Ann on September 30, 2013 at 5:14 pm —
Yucaipa—sounds like a magical place!
laura on October 1, 2013 at 2:23 pm —
I love your posts about fall on gluttonforlife! xx
nanhsu on September 30, 2013 at 5:32 pm —
laura on October 1, 2013 at 2:24 pm —
It's been an early foraging fall out on the West Coast ... with cooler temperatures, and more then enough rain, we've been spoiled with white and golden chanterelles, just starting to find hedgehogs and boletes. My favorite part of fall is shifting towards cozy, slow cooked comfort food ... braising with rich warm flavours.
Christine on September 30, 2013 at 5:37 pm —
laura on October 1, 2013 at 2:24 pm —
How Katsura leaves smell like cotton candy this time of year.
Jeanne on September 30, 2013 at 5:41 pm —
laura on October 1, 2013 at 2:24 pm —
Fall in Oregon is a different game. Today, lashing rain one moment, clear blue sky the next, and heavy cloud cover follows. Repeat cycle. Leaf debris and pine cones litter our street and yard from blowing winds these past two days. But soon we will have a brilliant day or two, the leaves will have suddenly changed, and we'll have a brief but intense fall before the solid Northwest rains settle in for six months. I love it all.
judy blankenship on September 30, 2013 at 5:52 pm —
Sounds dramatic!
laura on October 1, 2013 at 2:25 pm —
Living in Los Angeles, you have to really LOOK for signs that Fall is here! The days slowly shortening, and the few seasonal trees whose leaves change colors. That being said, what I love most is the amazing selection of apples and persimmons at the market. Plus all the gorgeous pumpkins!
Heidi on September 30, 2013 at 6:03 pm —
I love those persimmons, fresh and dried!
laura on October 1, 2013 at 2:25 pm —
Roasted new Yukon gold potatoes from a local black dirt farm in Pine Island....so creamy and rich!
Diane Lindsay on September 30, 2013 at 6:10 pm —
Diane, are you near Warwick? That is such a lush area!
laura on October 1, 2013 at 2:26 pm —
I'm in this mood for all things Fall—the browning fern field is balanced by the vivid scarlet leaves. These photos are it.
Roy on September 30, 2013 at 6:39 pm —
Working iphone triumphs over busted Nikon!
laura on October 1, 2013 at 2:27 pm —
I love the crisp, cool breezes.
Chantal H. on September 30, 2013 at 6:44 pm —
So refreshing!
laura on October 1, 2013 at 2:27 pm —
Oh so love fall but it seems to be monsoon season in Portland right now. Brooding purple clouds with huge rainfalls and then tiny hits of blue sky then more rain. The dahlias are trying their best to stand tall...
Suzinn on September 30, 2013 at 6:59 pm —
Lucky you, with all that rain still giving you flowers!
laura on October 1, 2013 at 2:28 pm —
Congrats, Laura...a good reason to get the River Reporter every week now!! Great post..lovely looking mushrooms..
Julie Gross on September 30, 2013 at 8:32 pm —
Thanks, Julie!
laura on October 1, 2013 at 2:28 pm —
fall, the time of year i'm never ready for with all the projects yet undone and procrastinated, fruits to pick, plants that didn't yet get to the ground ... but fall motivates me to get going, knowing that the coming season will be too late but then once the beautiful season arrives and all the outdoor activites accompished, i am resigned i could never iive where we didn't have the beautiful changes in nature - fall is special
maureen on September 30, 2013 at 9:53 pm —
Indeed. I'm with you on so many fronts...
laura on October 1, 2013 at 2:27 pm —
Beautiful post! I love the beautiful changing leaves and Cinderella pumpkins (they make great pies too). Happy autumn!
Margie on September 30, 2013 at 10:23 pm —
Love that one, and the Marina Di Chioggia, too!
laura on October 1, 2013 at 2:30 pm —
I enjoy managing the woodpile and leaf-catching! Keeping our fuel source in check defines adulthood, but catching the bright colored leaves reels me back to simpler days.
Tom Kelley on October 1, 2013 at 6:27 am —
My man stacked two cords of wood—very satisfying!
laura on October 1, 2013 at 2:30 pm —
I love the cool nights, hunting for leaves with my young boys, apple picking, wearing jackets and scarfs, and green tomatoes. The fall is my favorite time of year!!!
Sandra on October 1, 2013 at 2:38 pm —
Mine, too, Sandra!
laura on October 1, 2013 at 3:04 pm —
I've got to say, something baking in the oven, sitting on the front porch, sun kissing my face, with a sweatshirt on and bare feet, while watching and listening to the leaves fall around me with the sky's amber glow...
bonnie pierce on October 1, 2013 at 9:19 pm —
Sounds pretty much perfect, Bonnie!
laura on October 1, 2013 at 9:29 pm —
The bounty of the farmers market...first seeming to have the best of the best of what was also on offering in the summer but with enhanced flavor (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, ever growing zucchini, hearty greens, etc.), then transitioning over into the substantial produce of the long winter ahead (winter squashes, potatoes, parsnips, celeriac, etc.). There is also no time of the year where family and tradition is celebrated more (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthdays around these parts). Oh yes, and roaring fires, cozy sweaters, candles lit as soon as the sun begins to fade, heartier dishes, football (not so much the watching but the traditions surrounding it), oatmeal for breakfast (enjoying this now), multiple work holidays...the list goes on. Congrats on your new column!
Laura on October 2, 2013 at 7:36 am —
Yep, you really cover it all here!
laura on October 2, 2013 at 7:42 am —
Being inspired to plan cold-weather dinner parties, with menus that include things like Guinness beef stew, roasted root vegetables, tarte tatin and pear/arugula salad. And figuring out tweaks for Thanksgiving dinner (this year I'm pondering a first course of individual tomato tatins and a cheese course complemented by roasted fig chutney and home made candied orange peel). So, the food, basically!
Laurie on October 2, 2013 at 10:02 am —
That cheese plate sounds divine!
laura on October 2, 2013 at 11:48 am —
Fall is my favorite season! I love sweaters and boots and curling up on the couch with my kitties, a quilt and a good book. Thanks for the lovely giveaway!
Debra Lee on October 2, 2013 at 11:42 am —
Sounds so cozy!
laura on October 2, 2013 at 5:17 pm —
I love the cold, crisp morning air and the smell of mulled wine on the stove.
Jen on October 2, 2013 at 5:00 pm —
Ooh, mulled wine - thanks for reminding me!
laura on October 2, 2013 at 5:16 pm —
I love the farmer's markets in the early fall when you still have summer fruits and veggies but also have the beginnings of winter squash, apples, hearty greens, and lots of those awesome root veggies. It is impossible to limit your purchases and I always end up with tons of fresh veggies. Of course, those morning trips to the market are also enhanced by hints of crisp air and deep blue skies that herald the season. Fall has always been my favorite season!!
Alyssa on October 2, 2013 at 5:53 pm —
That makes two of us!
laura on October 2, 2013 at 9:10 pm —
I love the cool evenings sitting around the fire. The weather is perfect and no mosquitos!! I also love the changing leaves. Your pictures are beautiful!
Sherry Lykins on October 3, 2013 at 12:20 pm —
No mosquitoes is for sure a plus!
laura on October 3, 2013 at 4:10 pm —
giveaway or not, there are too many wonderfui things about fall to mention. the entire season is perfect from beginning to end and now living once again in the burbs, the mornings are simply the best.
nikki on October 3, 2013 at 3:12 pm —
Closer to nature in the 'burbs, right?
laura on October 3, 2013 at 4:11 pm —
So many of us seem to enjoy Autumn! Many things have been said that I agree with: the crispness of the air, the beauty of its colors, the comfort of more hearty foods... But above all I love this season because it's a time to turn inwards. Towards the hearth and the home, a time to share with loved ones the bounty of nature, to cuddle and to reflect upon what has gone by and what is to come. I feel a regain of energy after the lazy summer months, I want to DO and to MAKE but also simply to BE. PS: I'm so happy to be back reading to beautiful posts after a long summer without a computer!
alwayshungry on October 4, 2013 at 7:53 am —
Welcome back! You were missed.
laura on October 5, 2013 at 10:34 am —
Growing up on the east coast I loved autumn. Nothing compared to watching the trees change color, bursts of orange and fiery red, and walking in the woods with a soft cushion of decaying leaves underfoot. The smell, putrid, but wonderfully distinctive. In LA the change, is of course, subtler, but after 21 years on this coast I've become attuned to the transition. The night sky has more orange streaks, the air is cooler as it bookends warm days, and the stone fruit at the farmers market is past its prime. In my heart there's a trace of melancholy knowing another year is winding down.
maria on October 4, 2013 at 10:17 am —
Every mention of that LA farmers market sends a yearning through me...
laura on October 5, 2013 at 10:35 am —
Fall means it's time to for a change ...change my closets over, edit out the clothes I no longer wear and donate to housing works, time for a facial to get my skin ready for winter, time for a new haircut and maybe even a change of color, switch from Essie jelly apple on my fingers and toes to deep dark delicious wicked, clean and store my summer quilt and pull out the goose down duvet and treat myself to a new duvet cover in rich autumnal tones, turn off the AC and throw open the windows and doors (although it's 80' degrees in NYC today, um what fall?!?), change up my workout routine and just bought a series at soul cycle, read through the ever growing stack of bon appetit mags to find new delicious fall recipes to keep me warm & sated (or just read your blog, shameless kiss-ass), and it means my birthday is just around the corner and forces me to reflect on how grateful I am to have a loving family, fabulous friends, an amazing boyfriend, the cutest dog, and most importantly good health.
Jamie on October 4, 2013 at 2:00 pm —
You are one lucky woman!
laura on October 5, 2013 at 10:35 am —
The transition from refreshing summer sangria to a soul-warming mug of spiced cider with aged rum. Love your posts!
Evan on October 4, 2013 at 6:19 pm —
Thanks, Evan! Bring on the bourbon...
laura on October 5, 2013 at 10:36 am —
My favorite things about fall? The clean air, the bluer-than-blue sky, and the smell of decaying leaves. I feel so lucky living in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley at this time of year.
abi on October 4, 2013 at 6:23 pm —
I'm sure it must be heaven on earth!
laura on October 5, 2013 at 10:37 am —
I could say that it's the blazing colors of maples that I love most. Or the cool air that inspires renewed gratitude for warmth. Or the sunsets once again rendered visible beyond bare branches. But it's none of these really. It's that feeling, that feeling so familiar and welcome in fall - nostalgia. Nostalgia is what I love most. A sweet, wistful remembrance of good times had and past.
Prairie on October 5, 2013 at 9:28 am —
Ah yes, that sweet melancholy - from the Greek for "homecoming" and "ache"...
laura on October 5, 2013 at 10:38 am —
I love the beautiful colors of the leaves! Also, Bosc pears!
Meryl on October 5, 2013 at 3:39 pm —
I love Bosc pears, too, especially with cheese!
laura on October 6, 2013 at 12:15 am —
I love the nice, cool fresh air.
Louis on October 5, 2013 at 3:41 pm —
Yes, perfect sleeping weather!
laura on October 6, 2013 at 12:16 am —
I love fall because it, like spring, is so changeable and yet - the changes are fleeting. The colors, the smells... (the forest smells in a mist - ahhhhh!)
Karen O on October 6, 2013 at 9:47 am —
Went for a walk in a misty forest this very morning - beautiful!
laura on October 6, 2013 at 7:48 pm —
Apologies for being late to the party here. This is such a glorious post. I soaked it up. Inhaled it. Like as if I could smell the leaves. I miss a real, proper Autumn so very much. The best season by far. Thank you for giving me a little taste from afar.
tanya on October 9, 2013 at 9:14 am —