What do oatmeal and Jamie Oliver have in common?

I‘m not so good at beginning new things in life. I worry about failing and not meeting standards; I tend to circle projects for a while, observing, and yes, dragging my feet.

Because I know this about myself, I was eager to get my first post for Jamie Oliver published and behind me. I have plenty to say on the subject of kids in the kitchen and, once started, should have no trouble making myself at home in my new digs.

It would have been far too easy to obsess over a topic for that first blog post, so I enlisted Noah to help me come to a quick decision together: Apple Pie Baked Oatmeal. It’s a hot breakfast that we love, and he can prepare it nearly all by himself, so it was perfect for kicking off a series on cooking with family.

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Apple Pomegranate Kale Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

I‘ve been mourning the lack of produce at the farmers market in the last couple weeks.

It seems as if overnight the overflowing stalls of tomatoes and carrots disappeared, packing up their tables and baskets for the season and leaving a selection of local meat vendors and a few farmers that have access to hoop houses and green houses or specialize in winter squash and root vegetables. Long live the root vegetable.

At home, my garden is in the final days. Just this week we pulled the last bits of ever-hardy kale from the ground, cleaned them, and tucked them into the refrigerator alongside a collection of celeriac, daikon, and turnips. There the pile of evergreen leaves sat on the shelf just above the pomegranates, meeting me multiple times a day under the glaring bare bulb as I pulled breakfast, lunch, and dinner from the depths of the refrigerator.

Finally, after lamenting again over the lack of fresh-from-the-garden lettuces, I spotted the red and green and inspiration hit. It’s time to embrace fully the winter salad season.

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Roasted Applesauce with Spices

To me, applesauce is the quintessential fall food.

One of my favorite autumn memories is of wandering an antique apple orchard outside my hometown of Portland, Oregon, bundled up in scarves and layers for the first time of season, picking up windfall apples with my mom and sister. We’d bring our dog with us, and she’d run between the trees, tossing apples up in the air with her nose and then chasing after them.

apples in a roasting pan

Once our bags were full to the top, we’d head home to preserve our gathered fruit. My mom would cover counter tops with newspaper and we’d begin to peel. When the apples were ready, they’d go into her biggest soup pot with a splash of orange juice, cinnamon and grated nutmeg until they’d cooked down into a homey sauce (the peels and the newspaper would go to the compost bin).

roasted apples with spices

Though I live on the other side of the country now, it still doesn’t feel like autumn until I’ve spent an afternoon tramping around an orchard, picking apples and then taking them home to the canning pot.

I make my sauce much like we did when I was young, with plenty of spices and without any added sweetener. The one difference is that instead of cooking my apples down on the stovetop, I peel, core, chop, and roast.

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Roasted Apple & Rosemary Tisane

The week following a holiday always seems to require extra effort to get the household routine back in order and running smoothly.

It was lovely to slow down over Thanksgiving, play game after game of chess with the boys – their current fixation – or putter in the dappled yard while the chickens bustle about in the fallen leaves. Getting back to school and work, however, was a little bumpy. By mid-week I was feeling overwhelmed with everything on my plate – and I couldn’t ignore the tickle in my throat that indicated I may be coming down with something.

I thought about how I could jostle my calendar to make it all work, but then, over a quiet cup of tea,  I decided to slow right down. Instead of jotting yet another to-do list, I took a few moments for myself, something that a mother who works from home seldom does. There is no lunch hour, no scheduled breaks, and certainly no quitting time when your work and your life overlap so closely.

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Apple picking and Happy Thanksgiving

Today is the day of the long weekend to truly relax at home. Saturday and Sunday were spent hither and yon at various family gatherings, but this morning we can stay in our slippers, leisurely sip our lattés, and give thanks for a cozy home and healthy family.

I don’t even mind that the weather is grey and rainy, as I’ll be in the kitchen  for a good part of the day anyway. I have a new set of appliances to break in and there’s no better way than with a turkey-trimmed Thanksgiving spread.

apple picking

I don’t have the usual Monday material for you today, but I thought I would share a few (iPhone) snaps from our apple picking outing last weekend. It’s one of our favourite events of the year, complete with a picnic and plenty of foot races up and down the orchard rows.

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