Why I mulch my garden in the fall.

Why I mulch my garden in the late fall

Clara and I have been making it a priority to get outside every day in the afternoons, even though it now requires a warm jacket and boots. That burst of fresh air is a necessary jolt after a busy morning and a reminder to slow down, breathe, and tune out the noise for a bit.

She skips around the yard, chasing the hens or petting the cats. Just yesterday I found her standing by the now-empty carrot patch, softly singing a little song. “I’m singing to the seeds.” she said, when I curiously asked her what she was doing. Somehow she remembered my suggestion from this past spring, when she was impatient for her carrots to grow.

While Clara plays (or sings), I prep the place for the coming winter. The garden has been my main focus this week as I know a freeze could happen any time.

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Secrets to the best mashed potatoes | Simple Bites #eatseasonalholiday

Secrets to the best mashed potatoes {Eat Seasonal Holiday Edition}

Mashed potatoes are premium comfort food, that is a given, but they don’t always get the right treatment to ensure they are fluffy and well seasoned. This post can help.

Back when I put myself through culinary school, money was tight. I frequently relied on samples from class to get me through a day; which was easily feasible. We had opportunity to eat most everything we prepared and you know how I dislike waste! I must have been particularly hungry the morning we were learning how to make the best mashed potatoes (yes, that was actually a topic covered in a class) because I can remember every little detail of the process.

It seemed a torturous wait before we could serve ourselves from the enormous pan of steaming spuds, but the wait was well worth it. Creamy potatoes, skillfully seasoned, without a lump to be seen. It was the dead of winter. I had been up since 5 am in order to make it to class on time. Yet the memory of spooning up mashed potatoes while perched on an overturned milk crate remains one of my happiest ones from culinary school.

Today I’ll share my teacher’s secret to fluffy mashed potatoes. Then stick around, because the #EatSeasonal group of girls are throwing a virtual potluck for the holidays.

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Weekend links

“At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.”

Coconut Curried Pumpkin with Cinnamon Rice | Simple Bites {vegan}

Coconut Curried Pumpkin with Cinnamon Rice {vegan}

My local farm stand closed for the season on Monday, leaving nothing behind save for a few wisps of straw and dried corn husks.

Driving by that day, I saw them tossing pumpkins with abandon into the back of a wagon. The season was over and it seemed the sooner they could rid themselves of the squash the better. I pulled off the road, grabbed my change purse and went to inquire.

The farmer let me take as many as I wanted for fifty cents each and I drove away with big plans to roast them all for purée. I also made off with several cabbages, romanesco, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts on the stalk. All for under 10 dollars. It was a good start to the week.

Coconut Curried Pumpkin with Cinnamon Rice | Simple Bites {vegan}

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Naked Lemon Layer Cake recipe and tutorial | Simple Bites

Rustic Lemon Layer Cake for a baby shower

November is the season of comfort food, which for me roughly translates into coffee and cake – at least today it does.

Lately I’ve taken to retreating into my warm kitchen in the morning with a stack of the fall’s latest baking books and only emerging when I feel adequately caffeinated and something delightful is cooling on the counter. We can only eat so much, and I gift a good portion of my baking, but it is always welcome to have a little assignment.

So last weekend when a few close friends and I teamed up on an (actual, not virtual, although today’s is virtual) baby shower, I volunteered to bake the cake. I’d been thumbing through both Homemade Decadence and Butter Baked Goods dreaming of layer cakes and fluffy frosting and this was the opportunity I needed  to break out the cake pans. I chose a recipe from each book and both were so spectacular, I requested permission from the publishers to share them with you here.

The recipes can be scaled up or down, should you one day find yourself committed to making a wedding cake or just want a crumb of something sweet for Sunday dinner.  I think you’ll agree, few things in life are as enjoyable a frosted slice of cake, so read on for the tutorial, recipes and virtual baby shower you can join, too!

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