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Autumn Bright

We were worried that the summer drought we had would have a negative effect on the autumn colors.  If it did, it was hard for us to see.  All the colors looked bright to us.

On sunny days, the leaves glowed and the moderate weather has allowed them to take their time leaving.

It’s no secret that autumn is my favorite time of year.

In our new house, we have finally got the fireplace up and running.  Can you just feel the coziness?

I have been doing a bit of baking and really enjoying it.  Soon, I may have a recipe or two to share.

This is a sweet cinnamon version of pane bianco.  I used way too much filling, but other than that it was a total success.  Next time, I will use less filling and cut the dough less shallowly.  That might help it not to leak all over the pan.

In knitting news, things are more neutral that the view outside.  There are lots of greys going on.

I started an Owls sweater and have made it through the first set of waist shaping only to abandon it for a smaller project.

A hat made with two natural shades of shetland.  I am testing out the gauge of this yarn from Ross Family Farm.  It’s supposed to be sport weight, but I found it is closer to a dk or light worsted.  This revelation has changed my plans for this yarn somewhat and it must go back to the drawing board, so I threw this project aside as well.

And cast on a cowl with more grey yarn.  All this greyness is going to backfire on me soon.  With the time change and the leaves mostly gone, the view from my window is getting more dreary.  But, I will try to persevere with one of these knitting projects.  Views like this will keep me going for a few more days at least.

 

Simple Boozy Apple Cake

It’s fall!  The leaves are turning and that means it is also apple season.  Little did we know when we moved here last year that we would be in the middle of apple country.  There are many apple orchards within a 15 minute drive of our house and if you expand that radius, the number of orchards just keeps multiplying.  We are not strangers to pick your own apples, having gone every year for almost 20 years now.  However, we’ve never been this spoilt for choice for apple orchards.  As a result, the boys and I are on an unofficial mission to visit as many apple farms as we can so we can better assess our favorite.

So far, we’ve gone to two.

Ok, that’s not exactly fulfilling the mission, but, unfortunately, we also have to get some work done around here sometimes.  Sigh.

Anyway, the benefit to going more frequently is that we do not feel the need to pick a whole season’s apples all in one go.  So, we have been picking one basket at a time.  This means that our apples are always fresh!  What a bonus!

There is nothing like eating a fresh picked apple.  They are crisp and juicy and scrumptious.  We easily ate through over half of our first basket before I even started thinking about baking anything.

And when I started baking, I naturally turned to cake first.

Now, apple cake and I have a rocky relationship.  I love the idea of apple cake, but often do not like the reality of apple cake.  It can often be very moist, almost soggy, and they have notoriously long bake times, which can make them hard to judge doneness.  They are also often really yummy warm and eaten the day they are baked, but as the days go by, they get soggier and wetter.

That soggy cake texture has never been appealing to me.  I wanted a cake that was moist, but able to hold up for a few days without becoming pasty.  And I also wanted a cake that would take a fair amount of apples.  After all, at this time of year, I am usually trying to use up as many apples as possible before they go bad on the counter.  I didn’t want to make a cake that would just use one apple.

After several tries, I think I finally have a cake recipe that accomplishes all those things.  And it has booze in it as well.

Plus, the recipe is pretty easy; no mixer necessary.  The hardest part is chopping up the apples.  And, I have included a little bit of whole wheat, so it’s also good for you!

It is especially good with salted caramel slathered on top of it.

What’s not to like?

Simple Boozy Apple Cake

makes one 9 inch square cake

You can use any kind of booze in this cake.  I tried both Smoked Maple Bourbon and a lighter apple Liquor that I had.  Both were good, though the apple Liquor one was a much lower proof, which made it almost imperceptible in the finished cake.  If you don’t want to use booze, you can also use the same amount of orange juice or apple juice/cider.  I also topped my cakes with a glaze of Smoked Maple Bourbon Caramel sauce.  Very yummy and I highly recommend this addition.  You can find the recipe here.  The caramel sauce can be made up to a week in advance and kept in the fridge.

4 medium sized apples, peeled, cored and diced, about 16-18 ounces after dicing

1/4 cup (2 ounces) bourbon, rum, hard cider, or apple liquor

1 Tablespoon (1/2 ounce) lemon juice

1 and 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) all purpose flour

1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

a pinch of ground cloves

2 large eggs

1 cup (7 ounces) light brown sugar

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (option, but very good)

1/2 cup (4 ounces) butter, melted and cooled

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Butter and flour a nine inch square cake pan or spray with a nonstick spray with flour added.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the apples, booze, and lemon juice in a medium bowl.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in a small bowl.

In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, lemon zest, and butter until slightly lighter in color.  Whisk in the eggs until well combined and light.  This will take about a minute.

Switch to a rubber spatula and stir in the dry ingredients to the egg mixture.  It will be very dry. Do not try to get all the flour mixed in.  There should still be a few spots of flour when you stop (see photos above).

Add the apples and all the liquid in the bowl to the batter.  Stir with the spatula until the batter smoothes out.  Scrape into your prepared pan and level it with your spatula.

Transfer to the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes.  The cake will be golden brown and a toothpick or tester should come out clean.

Let cool in the pan for at least 20 minutes before glazing with caramel sauce and eating.  The cake will keep for up to three days at room temperature, covered.  It will get moister as the days pass, but should not get soggy.  Enjoy!

 

 

Luminous

Fall has always been my favorite season. I love the coolness after the heat of summer and way the shadows become longer. The sunlight seems tinged with more orange and red and the air becomes crisp and clean feeling. I can open the door (it would be windows, but our windows are painted shut, haha) and feel a pleasant breeze. Everything smells faintly of apples and dry leaves. This year, our first fall in New England, all these things that I love about fall are intensified and magnified. Our house is full of windows and out of every window is a view like this.

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And when you go outside to check the mail or take out the trash, this is our view.

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Or you might see this.

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Today, as I drove to the grocery store, I almost ran off the road several times because I was distracted by the view. We have been fortunate to have a lot of dry, clear days, which practically beg us to go outdoors and explore. So, we did. Here is what we saw.

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These last five pictures are ones the husband took on his fancy camera. We were at a wildlife sanctuary not too far from us that had some good hiking trails. There are actually quite a few of these little sanctuaries in our area which we are looking forward to exploring more.

On Monday, which was another perfect weather day, we went to a farm quite close to our house and learned quite a bit about honey bees. I don’t actually have any pictures of that trip, but I can show you what I brought back with me.

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They have a flock of Romney sheep on the farm and at the little produce shop, they were selling yarn from their flock. This is 100% Romney processed by the Green Mountain Spinnery in Vermont. Plus, it was quite inexpensive. I won’t say how much here, but it was low enough that I felt I could buy it even though I am not supposed to be buying yarn.

Speaking of yarn, we are leaving tomorrow for our annual trip to the New York Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY! I am so excited. This will be our only non move related vacation of the year and even though I have a tiny budget, I am so glad to be getting away to have fun that I can hardly wait. I’ll tell you about it after we get back.

In the meantime, thank you so much for all the kind words from last week’s post. Things are settling down. Driving around is getting easier and the house is slowly getting organized. Life is a series of hard and soft spots and sometimes the hard things throw us off a bit. But, all of it is good for us, even if it is just to remind us of the things we can be thankful for.

Like fall

and apples

and these boys who I get to have lunch with every day.

My view for lunch today.  #newenglandlife #nofilter #homeschoolingdays

On the Way

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We are on our way to my favorite fall destination/activity: the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival! It’s a gorgeous day. Finally, Fall has arrived.

Fantastic Fall + Fiber Festival = Fabulous

Rhinebeck was fantabulous. Wonderful weather. Really, it was almost too warm for woolens, but not too warm to buy wool!

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The fall foliage was beautiful and inspiring.

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Furry critters greeted us as we walked.

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We got to watch some fascinating demonstrations, including this sock knitting machine. Imagine being able to knit a pair of socks in an hour. An Hour! Think of all the yarn you’d go through.

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And speaking of yarn, I did bring a little back with me. Just a little.

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Ah, Rhinebeck. I’m already looking forward to next year!