Cozy Autumn Things

We are full-on Octobering here! Excitement builds between birthday celebrations, fall festivals, pumpkin farms, and a splendid Autumn Potluck!

It’s the season to try new beers, and new breweries, such as the delightful Viewpoint Brewing, situated right on a beautiful lagoon.

At home, we hosted a fabulous Autumn Potluck, to celebrate the season with our friends before the holidays approach.

I made a cheese board, with four cheeses, assorted candied nuts, olives, cornichons, several fruits, and crackers. I also set up a chili bar with two types of chili: my own meat chili, and this delicious, vegan Slow Cooker Quinoa, Sweet Potato, & Black Bean Chili from Kitchen Treaty. Of course, I offered several toppings: homemade guacamole, scallions, cilantro, shredded cheese, sour cream, and corn chips.

I also baked this to-die-for Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese from Kitchen Konfidence!

I’m telling you, this is one of the best dishes I’ve ever tasted. And it should take pride of place on your holiday table!

I made mulled cider with cinnamon sticks for stirring. My husband chose some local craft beers for tasting. The children had sparkling cranberry juice.

And I made two kinds of Bundt cakes: pumpkin bread and a pear/Apple cardamom bread.

Guests brought pies, fall salad, fruit salad, corn muffins, rolls, and a relish tray.

I also made ahead of time some maple cranberry granola for guests to take home in jars!

We all had a wonderful time enjoying this bountiful season.

I’m already looking forward next year’s Autumn Potluck!

Hope you are having the loveliest autumn ever.


Summer Cooking 

Here I’ve collected good ideas for summer cookbooks, if you’re looking for some.  I have more cookbooks than these, but I find I reach for these the most lately.

The first book was a lucky find at the delicious Prejean’s restaurant in Lafayette, Louisiana.  I wanted to take that whole restaurant with me back West.  Since I could not, the cookbook was the next best thing.  You can buy it here.

Next up, we shift northeast to the thorough and delightful New England Open-House Cookbook by Sarah Leah Chase.  Inside, you will find lush photos, anecdotes, and loads of summery dishes, as well as recipes for other seasons.  If you want to capture New England’s deliciousness, this book is for you.  In fact, all of her books are great.

Looking for some Southern goodness for your next summer potluck?  Nashville Eats by Jennifer Justus has you covered.  Fried chicken, biscuits, greens…you name it, she’s got it.

If you want never-fail recipes that are beautiful and delicious, Ina Garten’s books should take pride of place in your home.  In Barefoot Contessa Foolproof, Garten really shines, offering her trusted classics and many other seasonal foods.  I can’t recommend this one enough.

Maybe you love to host, and want your table to keep people talking for a long time.  In that case, you must try and get your hands on Simple Soirees by Peggy Knickerbocker.  You’ll likely need to get a used copy, but trust me, the book is worth it.  Fresh, West Coast ingredients inspire the book, but you can get what you need most anywhere.

Need a deep dive into everything big and tasty?  Rope yourself a copy of Texas Eats.  I found this cookbook by Robb Walsh remarkable not just for its variety of foods (of course there’s brisket, but there’s also vegetarian and seafood; remember, Texas does have a coast), but also for the history in its pages.  Fire up your barbecue for this very special book.

I’m a tad biased, but I truly love Sunset Eating Up the West Coast.  It serves as both an epic road trip inspiration and priceless collection of recipes from Southern California to the Pacific Northwest, and all the points in between.  Your mind will be blown by the bounty of the West Coast, and the special little enclaves you can find off the beaten path.

Sometimes, you want everything in a cookbook.  You want the basics, and you want some variations on them.  In Saveur:  The New Classics Cookbook, you get the best of all worlds.  It’s a high quality, hardbound beauty of a book, and the perfect gift for the budding chef or the seasoned.

In The Foster’s Market Cookbook by Sara Foster, you will find countless ideas for your summer feasts.  Durham’s Foster’s Market inspired this absolute classic.

The utterly charming Irish chef Donal Skehan offers a bounty of healthy, gorgeous food in his Fresh cookbook.  This lovely cookbook is a natural for summer eating, when so many fruits and vegetable are at their peak, and you need inspiration for the bounty.

Want some humor and education with your summer grilling?  Look no further than Alton Brown:  EveryDayCook.  You’ll want to make everything in this book.  It’ll make you drool and make you think as well.  Possibly the most fun that can be had from a cookbook!

Last but not least, hey, it’s grilling season!  So I must tout Weber’s Way to Grill.  Want to grill something?  This book will show you how.  There are so many colorful, instructive photos and recipe ideas here, you’ll be set all summer long.

Happy summer cooking!