Don't you just love these fall mornings? The fireplace even surprised me by coming on as I got up the other morning. Maybe living in the country makes one like to have doors and windows open to the breezes it is so pleasant. Of course, by noon, all has to be shut up again with the sun still trying to think it is mid-summer. One of the pleasures in life is sitting on the deck in the early morning with a cup of hot tea. That's better than Prozac for nerves.
The horse population on the farm has increased. Two more that needed homes have been added. One is a very pretty white horse that will be for one of my granddaughters to ride. Her name is Precious and the lady who brought her didn't know that we call that granddaughter Precious. I guess it was meant to be. I love the horses, but I am not a "horsey" person and when this horse business started I told husband Norm and the girls that it was their project. I don't handle them at all no brushing, cleaning stalls, feeding, riding, fixing fence, etc. I just enjoy watching everyone else have a good time, and watching especially the Arabian run around the pasture.
Have you ever been to a real old-fashioned country fair? If you have and love them, or have never been and want to go, I know one of the best. It is next weekend, the last weekend in September and is the Barlow Fair in Barlow, Ohio, one of the oldest fairs in Ohio and I think about the last date of the fairs. It is a real country fair and all the community goes. Folks bring their best baking and canning for judging and the 4-H kids display their projects, including animals. That is one of the places that I made my "school" money when I was in 4-H. Music, food, farm animals, rides, beautiful fall weather it is all there.
Another attraction for the "horsey" folks are the horse shows. On Friday, the draft horses will show their stuff, but Saturday is a "horse day" for everyone. At 9 a.m., the miniature horses will have their show. They are really neat. Then at 1 p.m., there is an Open Youth Horse Show. Everyone 19-years-old and younger is invited to take part in that. At 6 p.m., there will be a Fun Show, open to all ages. That is fun for everyone, whether they are in it or watching it. For more info on these events, you can call Sid at (740) 989-2319 or Connie at (740) 984-1096.
We will just be getting rested from our usual fall trip to the Catskills in New York. Norm loves the golfing there and I love the peacefulness of the area. The weather is somewhat cooler than in our valley, just right for a sweater. That is one place I catch up on my reading and this year it was a very thick work by Tom Clancy. I like his writing, but it isn't one to read through in one night.
Of course, the Delaware house has to be closed for the winter, so that is always a job on the way home from New York. Maybe, some day we will get to retire and not be on such a hurry, hurry schedule. I will be busy as soon as we hit the Valley with judging some of the recipes that you fine cooks have sent into the cookbook contest. That is always a hard job because all the recipes are so good. (I hope you got yours in by the deadline.) We never know the names of the cooks we are judging as they are assigned numbers. That way, there is no way to favor one person that we might know over another. I enjoy trying the recipes, and you know you will have good luck with any you try when the cookbook comes out the weekend before Thanksgiving.
We are lucky that we don't have to go anywhere else to see the beautiful fall leaves. In fact, folks from other areas come to our valley to see them. As the leaves turn and the weather has that wonderful crisp feeling to it, be a tourist in your own area and take in what is here for us. Think covered bridges, apple orchards and fresh apple cider. Be sure to get some fresh Apple Butter at one of the festivals where they cook it outside, the old-fashioned way. Than make a pan of cornbread, add some country butter and the Apple Butter, and enjoy one of the treats of long ago.
The holidays will soon be upon us, starting with Halloween, just over a month away. Go to some of the fall festivals and maybe do most of your Christmas shopping. At least, you can get ideas for things you can make yourself for gifts. The best gifts are the ones with love in them, not just something bought in a hurry in a retail store. Be good to yourself and don't use credit cards to buy something for which you don't have the cash.
Anyway, enjoy this great season. Finish your canning and freezing and take care.
CANNED APPLE PIE FILLING
Eight pounds apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
Four and one-half cups sugar
Two teaspoons cinnamon
One-half teaspoon nutmeg
Five cups boiling water
Five cups cold water
Three tablespoons lemon juice
Five drops yellow food coloring optional
Mix dry ingredients together. Add boiling water and stir. Add cold water and stir. Add lemon juice and food coloring. Add apples and mix. Pack in clean jars, seal, and process as for apples 20-25 minutes in boiling water bath. Time after water comes to a boil.
END OF SEASON RELISH
Two quarts green tomatoes
One-quart ripe tomatoes
Three red sweet peppers
Three green sweet peppers
Three large sweet onions
One large cucumber
One small head of cabbage
Three stalks celery
One-half cup pickling salt
Wash and chop all vegetables, in small pieces for relish, larger for pickles. Sprinkle with salt and let stand overnight. Drain thoroughly. Add pickling liquid and cook until transparent, about one hour. Can in hot sterilized jars and seal. This can be thickened with some cornstarch (or flour) if desired.
Three pints vinegar
Two pounds brown sugar
One teaspoon dry mustard
Mix together and add to the vegetables to make above recipe.
Cut peppers in strips, or in half (for sandwiches). Parboil in salted water for two to three minutes, then drain. Pack in clean jars, cover with syrup, and seal. Process in hot water bath for 20 minutes.
Syrup: One-cup vinegar
Two cups sugar
Two cups water
Cook until of light syrup consistency.
For spicy peppers, add 2 to 4 tablespoons pickling spice to syrup, and a garlic clove to each jar. To add heat to the peppers, add one or two jalapenos to each jar of mild peppers. For pepper sandwiches, use green, red and yellow bell peppers, mixed with colorful Hungarians or similar peppers. If you happen to add too much "heat" to the peppers, use extra butter on the bread when you make the sandwiches. If you haven't tried pepper sandwiches, you have missed out on one of the great things in life.
BAKED WINTER SQUASH
Three pounds squash (butternut or any winter squash)
Two tablespoons butter
One-cup dairy sour cream
One-third cup finely chopped onion
One teaspoon salt
One-fourth teaspoon pepper
One-third cup dry breadcrumbs
Two tablespoons melted butter
Cut squash in half and remove seeds. Place cut side down on baking sheet after coating cut sides with olive or vegetable oil. Bake in 350-degree oven until tender. Pierce with a granny fork to check doneness. As soon as squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out the insides into a mixing bowl. Mash squash. Stir in 2 tablespoons butter, sour cream, onion, salt and pepper. Place in a greased one and one-half quart casserole. Combine the breadcrumbs and melted butter and sprinkle over top. Bake uncovered in 350-degree oven 30 minutes.
NOTE: Another version of the dish is to use brown sugar, butter and cinnamon and/or nutmeg instead of sour cream and onion. Top with marshmallows.
A second variation is to stuff the cavity of the squash with sausage and bake it right side up in a casserole dish.
Patty Christopher is a longtime food columnist. Contact her at email@example.com.