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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Autumn Arrives; Let's Celebrate!

After much fanciful kicking & screaming, I have finally resigned myself to the fact that at 4:44 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Autumn will coming knocking at our door. I don't mind, mind you. With its shorter days, crisp mornings and cooler evenings, in fact, I've been expecting her...

The golden rod is yellow,
The corn is turning brown,
The trees in apple orchards
With fruit are bending down...
By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer's best of weather
And autumn's best of cheer.

~Helen Hunt Jackson~

Today is the perfect day to share a delightful Autumn book I have titled Country Harvest; A Celebration of Autumn published in 1990 and authored by Linda Burgess and Rosamond Richardson.

This book is not only a volume glowing with seasonal recipes, it is a book worthy of being nestled into a handy place easily attainable throughout the season. A table top book with distinction:) Beautifully garnished with artistic illustrations by English still life photographer Linda Burgess, there are also ideas for creative fall decorations and wonderful handmade gifts from dried flowers, seed heads and even fruits. One craves a book like this to cuddle up with to truly appreciate the beautiful bounties of Autumn whether written from the narrative of the English countryside or New England. It's a wonderful way to whet your Autumn whistle:)

Some of the ingredients and recipes may not be as familiar to those of us on this side of the pond, but oh so many of them are cross continental, if there is such a thing:)

...Beyond the garden, in the lanes that lead through the fields and meadows, there is another harvest, a wild harvest traditionally gathered by country people over the centuries. Blackberries are beginning to ripen, with that distinctive flavour which epitomizes autumn. Bright orange rowan berries hang in clusters from slender branches ready for jelly making. Elderberries and crab apples, almost always plentiful, are ready to be gathered for jams and conserves, pies and puddings. The blueish-purple damson begins to swell, and its cousin the golden bullace is starting to turn colours. The rare medlars erupts with its bizarre, brown fruits. Lavender is ready to be harvested and hug up in bunches to dry...

It would be futile on my part to try and share everything that I would like to from this book. Instead I have chosen to focus on those that capture my Blackberry and Walnut imagination.

Blackberries must not be gathered after October 11th, according to an old country tradition. October 11th was the old Michaelmas Day, before the calendar changes of 1752. It was on this day that Satan was thrown out of heaven by the Archangel Michael. He fell into a bramble bush, and now every year he takes revenge by spitting and urinating on the blackberry plant on the anniversary of his disgrace. Not only is it said, will the berries taste sour, but they will bring you bad luck.
Ploughing's begun among the gentle hills;
Wide skies where cloudy cities travel white
Canopy little acres; in the blanched serene
Tent of the heaven wheel the untidy rooks,
And settle, gawkey, on the browning tracks,
While man and horse pursue their ancient rite.
~Vita Sackville-West "The Land"~

Here in Pennsylvania, one sign of Autumn's obvious approach is the nobel walnut tree.

I haven't been able to find out much about the walnut crop in Pennsylvania. I'm not even sure one exists. However, come Fall, the walnut trees are the first to shed their leaves. My friend Harry, who owns the diner where I enjoy my morning breakfast each day, also told me that in the Spring, the walnut trees are the first to display their leaves. I'll have to pay more attention next Spring:)

Choosing walnut recipes to share from Country Harvest was most difficult. There are recipes for Walnut Ketchup, Pear and Walnut Jam, Walnut Cookies, Classic Walnut Cake and an irresistible recipe for Crunchy Harvest Butter just to name a few. I finally decided on these two.

Autumn in the Garden

Autumn is slowly showing her glow in the garden.

As the days grow shorter, it seems the bees are taking longer naps.

By now you know how haphazard I am about keeping track of all the seeds I plant. I LOVE surprises! This year I had two. This Mexican Sunflower, which is late to bloom, kept me wondering for the last few weeks. I wasn't absolutely sure of what it was going to be once it revealed itself. Can you imagine my delight when the first flower opened? There is only one plant which is still blooming so you know I will be saving seeds!

You may not be able to tell from the pictures but the next three plants are not as easy to spy as they appear. I had to do a bit of crunching up to take their pictures because they are seeking shelter whatever way they can. Personally, I'm thrilled!

The Zinnias were late to blooms this year too. Of course both Marion and I are delighted! (Marion has a birdseye view of these from her living room window:)

And finally, my second surprise of the growing season; Celosia. I think I may have shared a picture of these during the Harvest Moon. What I didn't get a chance to tell you is how surprised I am that the three of these plants appear different and yet, the seeds were all harvested from a Cockscomb stem I bought at the flea market I believe it was two years ago. I didn't plant any of these. My guess is they re-seeded themselves from last year's Cockscomb which was planted in the same area. There were probably more but I have a feeling that during my Idaho absence in the Spring, someone may have mistaken the tiny seedlings for weeds. They do look like blades of grass when they first shoot up:) (Marion "surprised" me by having the boy across the street visit to pick weeds in the garden while I was gone:) I don't know if you can tell, but these plants are about 3 feet tall. By doing a bit of research, I learned that there are numerous varieties of Celosia. Celosia argentea, commonly known as plumed cockscomb, which is the fiery orange one in this picture, Celosia spicata with its wheat like flower plumes, the one in the forefront and Celosia cockscomb which is the bright red comb shaped flowers toward the back. Pretty amazing huh? I'm going to save the seeds from all of these. Who knows what we'll get next year! BTW, they are GREAT flowers for drying.

Happy Fall, Happy Spring, and Happy Carrot Sunday too:)

Did You Know? The Sunday before Michaelmas, September 29th, is called Carrot Sunday in Scotland.

I'm link this post up with Pam's Garden Tuesday:)

58 comments:

  1. Beautiful post, Louise. Thank you for sharing this amazing book and recipes!

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    1. Thank you Nellie. I'm so glad you enjoyed this post. It really is a fabulous book:)

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  2. So.....you have breakfast at the diner...EVERY morning??? SWEET!!!
    And you...author of a cooking blog! ha!
    Love the yellow begonia...and all you other colorful flowers!
    Enjoy this first day of Autumn...before you know it....nope...I won't say it!

    Cheers!
    Linda :o)

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    1. Yes, Linda, I have breakfast at the same diner every morning. What might even be more surprising, is that I don't even have to say my order. It's the "usual."

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    2. That is hilarious, Louise!
      And...pray tell...what is the usual?!
      I'm hoping it includes poached eggs....... :o)

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    3. Linda-"The Usual" Two eggs over medium toward the well (no runny eggs for this girl, although Eggs Benedict I LOVE) I've even offered to show the "guys" in the kitchen how to make them but...fresh cut fries and extra crispy bacon; white toast, one pat of butter, small glass of OJ and coffee, (light & sweet:) lots of Harry's coffee!!!

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  3. I love your bees and flowers. I was delighted today to watch some bees going in and out of a hole in a huge maple tree near the Detroit River almost to Lake Erie.

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    1. Thank you Mae, and you said you weren't a gardener. Just look at you admiring the bees, lol...

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  4. Hi Louise, What an interesting post. I had no idea about the walnuts. (which I love) Enjoyed your recipes as my favorite berry is the Blackberry. You always have the most beautiful photos of flowers. Love them. Thanks for sharing and Happy Fall to you as well. Blessing, Dottie :)

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    1. Hi Dottie!

      I'm so glad you liked it. What fun it was to stroll through that book again. It was so difficult selecting recipes to share. Sounds like I chose the right one for you; The Blackberry!

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  5. Happy Autumn, Louise! You timed your post almost exactly to match the arrival of the Autumnal Equinox. Well done! I too am intrigued by your daily breakfasts at Harry's local diner. Would love to join you there! And, having spent the day canning (green pepper jelly) the Blackberry Apple jam really caught my eye. Your "local" photos are lovely, and the walnut tree looks so graceful. Enjoy this lovely season!

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    1. Happy Fall, T.W! Awe gee, you noticed. I did try to schedule today's post with the arrival of Autumn. I just can't figure how to see if it worked, lol...

      Harry's is my local "hotspot" it's where all the locals eat and mingle. I just LOVE it! I guess you would say I'm a "regular." Sometimes, when they see me pull up, they set "my" table for me before I even get in the door. It's wonderful! You are welcome to join me any time!

      You sure are doing a lot of "jammin." You must add Blackberry Jam to your repertoire. It's going to be a great Autumn!

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  6. aaah dear Louise I love Fall, my favorite season, here we are in spring is beauty but not my favorite I love autumn/Winter anyway all the seasons have something special! I love this post is absolutely beautiful!!! xoxoxo

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    1. Happy Spring, Gloria! I must admit, Spring is usually my favorite season but I am slowly accepting Autumn too. As you say, they all have something glorious to offer:)

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  7. Fun post! Like the Walnut Wafers recipe, although shucks, I'm fresh out of sunflower margarine! Missouri has a bit of a black walnut harvest, but the trees are all basically wild (they're not planted in orchards), so the nuts tend to be expensive. Happy Autumn!

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    1. I was wondering about that sunflower margarine too, John. Perhaps someone from on the other side of the pond can help:)

      I wonder why they wouldn't plant orchards of Black Walnuts in Missouri, John. According to the folks at St. Louis University, "they are chock full of nutrients!) Happy Autumn! Thanks for dropping by:)

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  8. Hi Louise , loved the post , walnuts grow wild here and we go out in the woods to pick them up . Now we have pecan orchards , lots of people have a couple of pecan trees in their yards . I have to have the Country Harvest Book , I will check frist thing tomorrow at Barnes and Noble , I know they can order it , i want to taste the pickle blackberries . Happy Autumn right back at you and thanks for sharing :).

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    1. Hi Nee,

      I'm so glad you enjoyed this post. It sounds like you live right smack in the middle of a "designer" orchard. Lucky you! Check online for the book before you go to Barnes & Noble Nee. although the book is out of print, I did a quick check online and there are quite a few available. I bought the book back in 1990 at full price. But, I'm sure it is a lot less now.

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  9. Beautiful photos. I love fall, but then I think I love each season best at the start, and am glad to see it go nearer the end of the season.

    Carrot Sunday. And wouldn't you know it?! The first morning in ages I haven't given Sissy a carrot with her morning eye drop.

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    1. I suppose many of us feel the same way, Channon. You didn't miss Carrot Sunday Channon just be sure and give Sissy her morning eye drop next Sunday with a carrot, lol...

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    1. Thank you Ann. Your potato soup is a lovely way to welcome Fall too:)

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  11. Louise, you have a lovely garden and green fingers too :) Happy Autumn to you!

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    1. I don't know about the green fingers, Ivy. I just plant the seeds and see what comes up!

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  12. Saving seeds from flowers you get at the market is genius!!! Fall is my favorite season, so you know I love this post!!

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    1. I'm a seed saver from way back, Pam. Unfortunately, I lost many of my seeds when I moved to PA but, I'm stocking up once again!

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  13. Louise , I'm really quiet excited to see her actually but sadly , after the so-called "super" typhoon that passed here yesterday , it's still 30°C *sigh* ;D Love your post , as always , the lovely photos of those Autumn blooming flowers and wonderful narrative makes me yearn more for the bone-chilling days to come . Come winter , for sure , I'll be complaining about how cold it is lol

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    1. Come winter, I'll be complaining about the cold too, Anne.

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  14. I have that book! Where is it? Now would be the time to get it out.

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    1. Maybe it's in the Guest Room, Pattie, lol...

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  15. Oh my, that is a beautiful book and your photos are gorgeous. Love the walnut tree and your flowers are still going strong. Not much blooming around here. I need to go out and purchase some mums for color.
    Have a blessed week, ginger

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    1. I was thinking about getting some Mums for Marion to be able to see out her window but since so much seems to be still blooming, I decided against it. I'm not a huge Mum fan. What color will you get, Ginger?

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  16. Happy Autumn!! It is very gray and drizzly here. I am enjoying the woodstove right now. Oh I have this book and love it!! Perfect for this time of year. Clarice

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    1. Happy Autumn to you to Clarice. It really is just the right book for an Autumn celebration.

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  17. I love autumn...and all the seasons that follow up to summer. Yes, I don't like summer. Now, I'm off to find a copy of this cookbook. I can't believe I missed it!

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    1. It's a great book Linda. Good luck finding it!

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  18. I love this time of the year! Lovely flowers. I'd love to visit America in fall...

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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    1. We would LOVE to have you any time of year Rosa:)

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  19. I am so happy autumn is here! YAY!!! *cartwheel* & *happy dance*!!! :) My indoor home temperature finally dropped below 70, which is the first time in months! :) You have some really gorgeous photos here Louise! I'm really digging the nobel walnut tree one. Happy autumn to you! :) xo

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    1. Now that's what I call celebrating, Anne! I'm right there with dancing. I don't know about the cartwheel though:) Happy Autumn!

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  20. Dear Louise, The autumn is a beautiful time of year. I love the weather. The pictures you posted are excellent. I do like the recipes too.
    The surprises in your garden are beautiful. I don't keep track of my seeds either. I suppose the storm gives me a whole new start to things. Blessings and prayers, Catherine xo

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    1. Thank you Catherine. I look forward to finding surprises in the garden. I will gladly send you some seeds to start anew:)

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  21. What beautiful pictures Louise! This is my favorite time of the year and I love walnuts! I didn't know they were the first to drop leaves. Walnut ketchup sure sounds interesting. Have a great week!

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    1. Thank you Reeni,

      Walnut Ketchup was a staple in the colonial kitchen. I would love to try making it one day since, dare I say, I don't do ketchup!

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  22. I will probably sound silly confessing this, but when I saw the walnuts in the trees, I thought someone was joking and hanging up tennis balls! Don't they look like that? I planted some black walnut trees last summer, which I think are hardier here than the English walnuts, but I believe none of them made it through the winter (yes, oops, forgot to mark which tree I put where, and now there are just a lot of unidentifiable baby trees). Love your Mexican sunflower--that IS a keeper!

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    1. Now that you mention it Inger, I guess they could be mistaken for tennis balls:) I looked into planting walnut tree too. There's just one thing you must be careful about. The roots of walnut tree can do damage to other plants growing around them. There is something in the roots that leaches into the ground. Do some checking.

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  23. happy autumn - a lovely celebration - and very exciting to see photos of green walnuts - I have some walnuts at home that were picked green and pickled in a sweet syrup and they are quite amazing - walnuts must be among my favourite nuts if not the favoured one - but sadly I have not had the joys of black berry picking or pickling! And your garden looks full of colour and happy bees

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  24. Hi Louise, you always, always have interesting things to share with us and I just love all your photos. I've never seen a walnut tree! My ignorance says that it's only a small plant. Thanks to you, now I know how the tree looks like the next time I eat a walnut. You know, even though in Malaysia we don't have four season but the local Chinese like me, do celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival. The celebration was last Thursday on the 19th. This festival originated from China and if you google it up, you can find the legend of how this come about. We celebrate by eating Moon Cake and playing paper lanterns. I love the color of autumn. Cheers, Louise and please say hi to Marion for me. Can you post a picture of her in your next blog? I'm curios to see her.. lol

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  25. I never seen a walnut tree...so interesting Louise...
    Yes, it is Autumn...nice to have some changes, the stores are covered with Autumn decorations.
    Have a wonderful week my dear :D

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  26. Your wonderful words make me miss Autumn so much :D
    The colours, the baking... sighs contently :)

    Cheers
    CCU

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  27. You live in a wonderful place Louise! I love the look of the fields, the countryside is very beautiful there. I don't mind about the arrival of autumn either. There are wonderful colors out there so peaceful to the eye and to the mind too!

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  28. We have at least one walnut tree, but the one closest to the house is nestled amongst others, so I can't say I've noticed its leafing schedule as compared to other trees. I'll believe Harry. Your garden is very colorful indeed! I'm glad you and Marion are enjoying the late blossoms.

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  29. I love the story of Satan and the blackberries...I'll keep Oct. 11 in mind :) And your flowers are spectacular. My yard is back to just green again...not a thing in blossom! Have a wonderful week!!

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  30. Hi Lousie,

    I can see lots of autumn colours, NOT from my windows but only from your post :p Really envy you for all that you can harvest from this wonderful season.

    I love autumn too but only when I'm sick of heat waves and summer :p

    Zoe

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  31. What a lovely post. I loved the quote by Vita Sackville-West. When my mother and I were in England a few years ago we visited her estate and gardens, Sissinghurst.

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  32. Great post, Louise. And it brought back so many memories. I do miss fall in Michigan!

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  33. Beautiful fall pictures. I need to try the pickled blackberries recipe. Thanks for sharing the lovely pictures.

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Through this wide opened gate,
none came too early,
none returned too late.

Thanks for dropping in...Louise