signs of fall

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so love this weekend every year. when the season officially changes on the calendar and, despite, the still-summer weather, our home starts to reflect changing leaves and cooler weather.

this year, Spy and Miss Girl have gone camping for the weekend, leaving me on my own for 2 full nights and nearly 2 full days. honestly, i thought i would get a lot more done. but i’m completely at peace with the fact that i did little more yesterday than get my hair chopped off, pull a dozen things out of my closet that need to go to the seamstress for cutdowns (yay!) and watch The Other Woman, the Amazon Originals pilot of Whit Stillman’s The Cosmopolitans and Spark, the Burning Man documentary. yeah, all over the place, i know. would you expect anything less from me?

SONY DSCtoday was more productive and seasonal, yielding an updated door wreath and a couple culinary endeavors . . . hoping the scents of chili powder and cinnamon have been wafting out the open windows so someone other than me gets to enjoy! kind of surprised Parker wasn’t sunning himself here when i snapped this one — it’s usually one of his favorite spots.

so, the pulled chili chicken i’d crock-potted on Thursday needed a new life. it was originally supposed to be chili, but i have definitely not mastered the crock pot in that capacity, so it turned out more like a nacho topping, which was how it was served. no one complained and seconds were demanded. but this morning in my fit of fall nesting, i put what was left back in a pot with some puréed tomatoes, more beans, corn, diced peppers and onions, and actually made it soup. seriously, nothing like having a pot of soup — of any kind—simmering on the stove while you go about your day.

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in the meantime, last weekend’s apples were just begging for a transformation. having sent my 2 remaining sticks of butter on the daddy/daughter camping excursion, my very favorite apple cake was not an option without actually getting dressed and leaving the house. and that clearly was not happening on my last child-free, husband-free, my own pot of coffee, morning talkshows, no schedule and jammies ’til noon day for probably another year. so, apple pie, it was. i know. and you’re like wait, you’ve got pie crust in the fridge, but not butter? and i’m like yeah, that’s totally how i roll.

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this is only the second time ever that i’ve made apple pie. honestly not one of my favorites, but when in the season . . . i remembered the basics, which are like the super most basic of anything you can cook, pretty much. so this was right up my alley. but of course, like everything else, i only half followed a recipe. more like glanced at it occasionally as a guideline for what i should throw in than a real directive. and as usual, it turned out delish! this one was the inspiration. of course, as mentioned above, i don’t make my own crust. please. it’s a miracle any of this stuff gets done in the first place. definitely not wasting my time slaving over a hot stove for something Pillsbury aces every time. the recipe calls for Granny Smith apples. no idea what these were except some green and some (maybe) Fuji?

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the recipe also calls for nutmeg. well, of course, the last few sprinkles of that went into egg nog last Christmas and who thinks to buy nutmeg after Christmas? so i went with allspice instead. brilliant, if i do say so myself. the recipe didn’t call for any lemon juice, but i remember adding it last time, so i figured it must be important. 1 Tbsp. splash. i used a bit of spread butter in place of the sticks that had been sent to Tugaloo State Park for the weekend and were serving the greater good. then, top on and in the oven as called for.

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about an hour later, after teasing me and the neighborhood with her sweet, spicy fragrance, she emerged golden and bubbling. i’m very much looking forward to sharing her over stories of campfires and fishing and how the new season arrived in the Blue Ridge Mountains when Spy and Miss Girl get home.

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