The Scent of Fall

b.story 12.11.10 FallScent_Katsura_leaf1

The house is filled with the scent of burbling beef stew (my personal favorite is Ina Garten’s Beef Bourguignon) and roasting squash.   Outside, the day is crisp and cold and our breath hangs in the air for just a minute before wisping away.  The freshness of the morning gives way to the musk of rotting leaves and moist soil.  I work, pulling out those vegetables that provided us with a bountiful summer.  I mourn the passing of one season, but am looking forward to another that contains some of my favorite fruits and vegetables… anything pumpkin, sauteed kale, sweet, succulent pears, bitter brussels sprouts and of course roasted squash.

Fall is full of smelly delights!  One of my favorites is found surrounding the Katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum).  From far away, the pyramidal tree glows with an apricot hue.  Up close, the perky, heart-shaped, yellow leaves stand like little soldiers along the branch.  But my favorite thing about the tree occurs when a slight wind ruffles those glowing, perky leaves.  Taking a deep breath I am reminded of my brothers soft, decadent caramels, or the raucous cacophony of a ballgame and the cotton candy that comes with it.  The smell conjurs up memories of fun times shared with friends and family.  Pick a handful of dry leaves from the Katsura tree, crush them in your hand and take a deep breath.   The scent coming off the leaves will be reminiscent of cotton candy or caramel and perhaps a sweet memory of your own will be reawakened.

Cercidiphyllum japonicum – Katsura Tree

A deciduous tree that will grow 25-40’ in height and a 20-30’ spread.  The tree’s form is lovely with its pyramidal shape and horizontally layered branching structure.  In my neighborhood, the tree is a common street tree (which significantly adds to the pleasure of my neighborhood walks!).  It prefers full sun, but part shade is ok, and it prefers regular water, but dry is ok too.  The Katsura tree is an attractive background shade tree during the summer months.  But it is during the fall when this tree truly shines!

Week 50 – Pomegranate Salad with Warm Goat Cheese

b.salad 11.12.19 Pomegranate goat cheese
One of the objectives of a long-term goal is to try things you’ve never tried before… to stretch your limits and master something new.  As I near the end of my ‘Year of Salad’ I am proud that I have met my own personal challenge.  Rather than continually serving the same basic green salad with store-bought…

Week 49 – Kale Salad

b.salad 11.12.12 kale salad
I am starting to make my list and check it twice.  My husband’s family is about to descend upon us for the Christmas festivities.  And since my family lives here in town, it means that Christmas dinner will be a lively, festive, crowded affair with many different food preferences and preferred Christmas traditions.  There are…

Week 48 – Sweet Potato with Chipotle/Cranberry Dressing

b.salad 11.12.05 sweet potato
Even though sweet potato season means the end to fresh tomato season… I always look forward to the time of year when I can begin enjoying the delicious root vegetable in all its fabulous forms. Boiled and mashed with a dash of orange juice, roasted with a sprinkling of olive oil and salt, or sautéed…

Week 46 – Brussels Sprout Salad

b.salad 11.21.11 brussels sprout salad
My family pulls together the massive Thanksgiving meal as a potluck. Each member of the extended tribe brings a dish or two and as the years have gone by, we have settled into a fairly regular routine. Everyone loves my sister’s creamy, garlicky mashed potatoes, my mom makes the most fabulous sweet potatoes and I…

The Hills are Alive with Color

b.story 11.11.17 maples5
From my shower, through a small window, I look out at a stand of trees. Gazing out, I plan my dinner menu, solve the design challenge that has me stumped, or daydream about white sand and sunny skies. It is a tiny peephole view where I watch the change in light and weather brought by…

Week 45 – Roasted Squash Endive Salad

b.salad 11.14.11 squash endive
Fall is in the air and, like clockwork, I am craving the bitter flavors of kale, collards and endive. There is something about the days growing shorter that causes me to long for a big pot of bitter greens served with a splash of vinegar. Especially when it is placed on my plate alongside a…

Week 41 – Roasted Pear Salad

Roasted Pear Salad
My family has a weekly tradition.  We like to sit down to Sunday dinner.  I feel a little spoiled, because my young family is actually able to sit at the dinner table together most nights.  But between soccer practices, music practice, homework and all the adult meetings we pile on our plate, these can, most…

Week 40 – Broccoli Waldorf Salad

b.salad 11.10.11 broccoli waldorf salad
There are many classic American salads.  Coleslaw, potato salad and iceberg lettuce with blue cheese dressing have long histories.  Then there are the salads that were created in a moment of inspiration, although some might say there was also an element of desperation.  Caeser Salad was created by the Cardini family (there seems to be…

Week 39 – Fall Quinoa Salad

b.salad 11.10.04 fall quinoa salad
There are a couple magical weeks each year when we can find all the fresh, bright summer vegetables as well as the earthy, comforting fall vegetables. In Oregon, the time is now. This week, the Farmer’s Market was bursting at the seams with tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant as well as squash, pumpkin and kale. I…