Fall is my favorite time of the year. When I was a little kid, I waited all year for summer. Growing up, I went to school just blocks from the beach, and when the air would shift into that salty aroma, I would get more anxious by the day. I couldn’t wait for lazy days on the beach, playing in the sand and jumping waves in the ocean. This anxious longing continued pretty much through high school and college. Until recently, I always craved summer.
Now, I find solace in the balance of the seasons and wait all year long for fall. There’s something so beautiful about the earth preparing itself for winter. Oh, and, hello! All things flavored pumpkin and/or apple!
For the past two years, Stephen and I have spent the fall months driving across the country and exploring all of the beautiful places that it has to offer. While we would love to make this a yearly tradition, that’s not quite possible (at least not at this point in our lives, but here’s hoping for ‘one day’!), so we have been working hard to make sure that we are filling our time with fun, new traditions.
|the beach in the fall|
For starters, I’ve decided to take up fly fishing.
Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking. You’re probably recalling the time that you have seen me walk into something, trip over something, or just generally remembering my lack of coordination. I know that Stephen is remembering the time that I walked right into a STOP sign. I should have seen the warning.
The truth is, I’ve been spin fishing for a few years now and while I love it (remember, I grew up at the beach!), I genuinely find that fly fishing has a beauty and finesse to it that connects the individual with nature and wildlife. Watching Stephen fly fish versus spin fish are two totally different things. The peace that he finds when he is fly fishing is remarkable. If he doesn’t catch anything on the fly, he is still happy as a clam when it comes home and still has stories about what a great day he had. When he and his dad take the boat out on the ocean and don’t catch anything, the misery is written all over their faces when they return.
|Stephen fly fishing|
I originally took up fly fishing when we were living in Wyoming, but because the Snake River is considered by some as fly fishing Mecca, I was too intimidated and didn’t have the patience. Now, I’ve learned the lesson that I’ve got nothing but time. So if you have any pointers – feel free to share!
We also had the benefit of being able to explore some new hiking territory. Previously, we were blessed enough to hike multiple times a week, with trailheads right outside of our front door. I don’t want to make it seem like we no longer can, but it is definitely a little bit harder these days. Luckily, we’ve got the Appalachian Trail! (Okay, not the whole thing, only part of it. But still!) And can I just say, it is totally breathtaking?
If I’m being totally honest (since I’ve already admitted the Stop sign thing), I am out of hiking shape. Sure, I just ran a half marathon last month, but hiking is the most intense, draining, full body workout that I can think of. My good friend Becky has been hiking up a storm lately in New England, and I know that we are bound to have a long excursion one of these days, so I pushed on!
The view is always worth it.
|the view from the top|
I’ve also been cooking as many fall veggies as I can get my hands on. I love squash, and eating it in the fall is just so satisfying. I’m incredibly loyal to spaghetti squash. I love roasting it and simply just adding salt and pepper (and maybe a little butter, too!) Of course, that was before I made this exceptional version of acorn squash. Poor acorn squash. People love spaghetti squash, and butternut squash has the whole soup thing going, and I just feel like acorn squash is the black sheep at the grocery store. So I always buy it. (I have guilt issues.) Hopefully after reading this, you will too! (Buy it, that is. Don’t take on my guilt issues!)
I preheated my oven to 450 degrees, lined a baking sheet with parchment paper (I do this a lot depending on the situation; I find that things cook better and it makes for easier clean up + long lasting baking pans!) and cut into the acorn squash. I wanted to make cute rings (see first slices on the left) but realized I wasn’t strong enough (or coordinated enough) to keep this streak up. So half moons instead! I evenly sprinkled salt, pepper, and CINNAMON. Seriously, I put cinnamon on everything. It tastes delicious and is so good for you! I let them roast for about 30 minutes, and continuously checked to see if they were tender by sticking a fork in them. I’ve found that each squash is different. Sometimes they takes 20 minutes, sometimes they take 40. So find a happy medium and keep an eye on them. You’ll be able to tell by the color, too! When they are done, sprinkle a tiny bit of raw cane sugar on top. Hello, gorgeous!
|roasted acorn squash|
In addition to cooking a bunch of delicious fall recipes, I’ve also been canning like a crazy woman. My mom and sister have been canning for years, and I guess I never really had the patience for that either… (Are you beginning to see a trend here?) My sister bought me a canning setup for my birthday after I expressed interest in making homemade pickles, and while I probably should have used all of those luscious summer fruits and vegetables, I decided to use fall as my test subject. I have been trying to make as many practical things as possible; things that I know I will use and gift during the holiday season, and things that I will open my pantry up, see, and think, I’m so glad I have this! My most recent creation was Pickled Spicy Garlic Cloves. Yes, I need entire jars of garlic. You do, too! I love eating garlic cloves. These spicy garlic cloves are great to cook with, great to serve with olives and crackers, and my personal favorite, chopped up and mixed into your favorite hummus recipe. I can’t wait to try them!
|spicy pickled garlic cloves|
Until next time,