Labor Day is widely considered to be the end of summer and, thus, the start of fall. Yet, the actual onset of the northern hemisphere’s fall doesn’t start until the evening of this coming Thursday. Meanwhile, summer’s warmth has been trying to remain ever-present around here.
However, September’s days have been getting noticeably shorter and the nights longer. Likewise, the temperatures are getting cooler, too, particularly in the evenings. By the way, Sunday is also the start of National Fall Foliage Week!
The official observance of the northern hemisphere’s Autumnal Equinox changes slightly but is usually around September 22nd. Twice a year, there’s an equinox – marking the beginnings of spring and fall – when the day has equal hours of dark and light.
The first half of fall has always been my favorite time of year, especially because, as the trees’ start transitioning for their winter hibernation, the leaves become more colorful each day! I’ve even seen a few trees changing colors in July and August, too. Unfortunately, once the color show really takes off in Michigan, it doesn’t last long.
Fall was also Mom’s favorite time of year. Not only because us kids went back to school but also because the cool, autumn days made it more inviting to turn on the stove and make some soup or do some baking. The fall season usually highlights flavors and scents of cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin and cloves in almost everything.
Moreover, autumn entices us to break out our cozy, warm Cardigans and make some belly-pleasing comfort foods. By the way, December 5th is the “official” observance of National Comfort Food Day! However, there’s something about the onset of autumn that makes many, like me, yearn for our favorite comfort foods.
Do you have a favorite comfort food? I love potatoes – any style. I surveyed a few dozen friends a couple of years ago, asking what their favorites were. Here are the top six most popular answers I received:
- potatoes (any style)
- macaroni and cheese
- fried chicken
- chocolate brownies
Junk foods and fast foods are also considered “comfort foods”. Science has frequently shown that emotions and food are significantly linked together. It’s widely believed that, in times of stress, “comfort foods” often make you feel better, providing nostalgic or sentimental value, with very little nutrition, if any at all.
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
Excerpts by Gloria Pitzer, as seen in…
Gloria Pitzer’s Mixed Blessings – Recipes & Remedies (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; March 1984)
COOKING IS ONE OF THOSE personal accomplishments that afford us all the opportunity to express ‘talent’. We love being approved of. In fact, we eat it up! It’s the little pat on the back that gives us the incentive to continue trying. And where else, but in the kitchen, can you try to win approval with such satisfying results!
I’m very partial to my kitchen because it is the one place in our home where I feel the most comfortable! Whether I’m there alone, working on a recipe, or sitting at my desk, looking for inspiration on a new article I’m writing, or sharing a cup of coffee with a neighbor or a friend, who’s dropped by – it’s my favorite room!
I have a desk in the kitchen right next to the [glass] door-wall that overlooks the yard. Our daughter, Debbie, and our son-in-law, Jim, gave me a flowering Crab [Apple] tree last Mother’s Day, which they planted right in the middle of the yard. I can enjoy it’s flowers each spring; also the very long bare, red branches during the autumn and it’s snow-covered limbs all winter.
It’s my sundial, by which I observe the seasons and the changes involved with this natural wonder. While the Scotch pines around this little tree never change, never go through the transition of bud to blossom to barren branches and then buds again, I can see the contrasts that are parallel to our own personal predicaments.
Some things, places – and yes, even people – never seem to change, while others go through budding and blossoming and withering away, only to come right back to life again in the sunshine of human kindness as does my tree in the sunshine of the seasons.
I’ve spent my entire life being a writer. It’s not what I do, but what I am. I love every minute of it, and by writing about what I have come to know best – cooking – it occurs to me that having a desk in my kitchen was awfully appropriate. Mind you, not all that crazy about cooking, by default rather than decision, I have learned more about it than any other skill I’ve attempted. (p. 15)
IF I WERE AN ARTIST…
IF I WERE AN ARTIST… I would cover my walls with pictures that would recapture the beauty of all the lovely places I’ve been to and would miss once I had left them. I would recapture a restful sunset over the wooded hills of northern Michigan sloping toward the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, or I would relive the blazing colors of autumn that shroud the clusters of trees along the uninhabited backgrounds of the countryside surrounding Grand Traverse Bay.
But, alas, I cannot put such places into paintings, so I’ll have to paint them with words in order to revisit them in my memory whenever the thoughts of which John Ruskin must have written – those secret places of the happy mind, ‘nests of pleasant thoughts’…‘houses built without hands for our souls to live in’.
Perhaps the food for thought, of finding these restful places in our memories, is just the elixir we often need; one more sufficiently nourished with sustenance to keep us physically fit, while we let our famished affections go hungry! (p. 22)
WHEN CARING COOKS ARE in thoughtful moods, they look for recipes that promise to produce absolutely dependable results, something different, something really good! Mood-cooking is great therapy! It’s the positive approach to getting your thoughts off of whatever ails you and involve yourself was something interesting and challenging.
I’m a mood-cook by nature, having found that house-bound homemakers with small wall-to-wall children left me with little else to use as a diversion from diapers, dishes, daily monotony’s of my chosen station in life. I could really enjoy cooking in those early days of raising our five children. So no doubt there are others, now, who find themselves in the same predicament.
Some of the mood-memories that now comfort me as my nest is empty of the youngsters, were simply observations and sensations that most of us take for granted. Simply enjoying various sounds would create a comfortable mood for me, and these sounds usually originated in the kitchen. (p. 158)
THE SOUNDS OF SIMPLICITY
Bacon crackling and a hot skillet… The crisp, first bite of a firm, juicy, red apple… The tinkling of a wind chime hanging in front of an open window on a breezy warm day… The steady, muffled static of a summer rain on the roof, like 1000 tiny mice scampering across a sea of tissue paper…
The snapping of a log burning in the fireplace on a cool evening… The soft delight in a child’s amused giggle… An old man humming a tune as he weeds his garden… The baritone foghorn of a freighter slipping through the mist-covered river… The low wooing whistle of a train interrupting the night…
The lake lapping against the beach as it pulls back into itself and returns again to caress the sand… The gargling whistle of wrens in the slanted morning sunshine of a new spring day… These are the sounds of simplicity that set a satisfying mood and give me a sense of contentment.
I cannot believe that every single bite of food we eat has to be good for us, that every book we read must enlighten and inform us, [that] every movie we see must make a social statement or that every relationship we experience must be ‘ideal’. (p. 158)
Halloween is just around the corner. Don’t blink because, after that, it’s only 24 more days until Thanksgiving (my birthday falls in there, as well)! Less than four weeks later, is the start of Hanukkah (Dec. 18-26, 2022), soon followed by the Winter Solstice and Yule celebrations. Those are quickly followed by the Christmas and Kwanzaa celebrations, too.
Not only that but also within the week, following those events, the new year’s celebration begins. Blink your eyes again and suddenly the Super Bowl festivities will be upon us, followed by Valentine’s Day, less than two weeks later. Afterward is St. Patrick’s Day, which is closely followed by the spring equinox and so on!
For many, like me, the countdown to “the holidays” begins with the onset of the Autumnal Equinox. That’s when I like to start working on my long, fall cleaning list – before the holidays start rolling in, one after another.
My fall cleaning is usually finished before the colorful autumn leaves disappear, like the summer’s warm temperatures; and before our windows get closed up and covered in plastic, for the cold, wintery months, which seem to last almost half the year (November to April) around here.
Do you have a “Fall Cleaning List”? If not, HouseholdManagement101.com offers a great, free printable that covers all the basics – you can find it at https://www.household-management-101.com/fall-cleaning.html!
Nonetheless, all of those many fall/winter holidays that are still to come, will seemingly be here and gone before you know it. So start preparing now. Make a checklist, so you won’t forget or miss anything later. What can I say? I love lists! Even Santa makes lists (and checks them twice) to stay organized during the hustle-and-bustle of the holidays.
Furthermore, you’ll also be better able to enjoy all the holidays and gatherings, yourself. In the end, who wants to feel stressed out and/or left out, during the holidays, while trying to “get it all done” at the last minute?
In honor of September, being National Better Breakfast Month, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for “English Muffins, Like Farmcrest’s”; as seen in one of her self-published cookbooks, The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; June 1997). I’ve also included her secret recipe for an “English Breakfast”, as seen in another of her self-published cookbooks, Gloria Pitzer’s Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; April 1986).
P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…
September’s observances include: National Little League Month, National Americana Month, National Blueberry Popsicle Month, National Chicken Month, National Courtesy Month, National Honey Month, National Italian Cheese Month, National Library Card Sign Up Month, National Mushroom Month, National Potato Month, National Rice Month, National Sewing Month, National Self-Improvement Month, and National Whole Grains Month!
Today is also… National Butterscotch Pudding Day!
September 25th is… National Quesadilla Day, National Daughter’s Day, National Lobster Day, National Research Administrator Day, and National Cooking Day! Plus, as the last Sunday in September (for 2022), it’s also… National Gold Star Mother’s Day.
…38 down and 14 to go!