Friday, September 21, 2012

Welcome Fall

Tonight we celebrated the autumnal equinox with our 4th annual fall potluck. Our group was smaller than usual because some mamas were very near their due dates and one just had her baby yesterday. But with our close crew of six couples and kiddos, we visited well past sunset.

I look forward to this potluck and through all the trials of raising little ones, I have somehow succeeded each time at pulling off some seasonal decor and bringing some food made with local ingredients. My kids look forward to this yearly mark as well.  It wasn't hard to convince them this morning to help me pick sunflowers from the garden. My son even remarked there were too many sunflowers.  But obviously, that's not possible.

I added a volunteer tomatillo (for their little lanterns) that I knew wouldn't develop enough before the frost and Michaelmas daisies.

I am excited to have discovered a volunteer elderberry on the east side of the house and added one of its two clusters with some hound's tongue for added contrast.

This Joe Pye weed had four sleeping bees on it when I  clipped it this morning for the arrangement.

After picking flowers, I went in the backyard and picked some more plums.  Our plums are small and tart, but still yummy.  I have dehydrated some, my sister made some into fruit leathers, and the kids eat them off the table, but still there are too many; even the chicken have grown sick of the fallen fruit. By the front driveway, our neighbors have a bigger and sweeter purple plum with yellow fresh that we can pick. So far, the flowers and fruit for tonight are straight from the yard and free!

A beautiful salsa garden harvest.

Then it was time to make some salsa, roasted beets, and some roasted potatoes for the potluck. I made salsa first because it was a good way to get rid of the fruit fly bait. I have never made salsa before but I had all the ingredients I needed, most of which came from my Dad's garden while he was away. Then roasted beets because, well because, we are just not a beet eating family yet.  I have lots of beets from my CSA cooler the last couple of weeks and thought tonight's potluck would be a good way to send those off.  Finally, the roasted potatoes were something I knew my own family would eat. There was a lot of chopping, nursing a baby, chopping, roasting, and getting baby to nap before assembling food for the potluck.

I snuck some zucchini in the salsa just to use another one up.

These potatoes had been in the fridge awhile (which worked out well for roasting texture), and I added carrot and apples with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, honey, thyme, and rosemary, garlic salt and pepper.

Due to the uneven napping nature of my teething seven month old, these potatoes got stuck to the foil because I didn't have a chance to stir them up, and note to self, using the convection oven changes the time needed for roasting veggies!
I didn't take pictures of the beets, but I made this recipe: Roasted Beets with Balsamic Glaze.  For the beet-eaters at the potluck, they were a hit!

Three babies under seven months and two due in a week (remember there's only six couples here!)

As sunlight dwindled on the last summer's evening, conversation carried on and babies settled into warmer clothes and blankets. Finally, the apple candles burned out, and except for two more mechanical re-lightings so that eager candle-blower-outers could have their turn, it was dark and time to pack up. I am already hoping the sunflowers are as abundant as they were this time.  Here come sweaters, short days and long nights, colorful leaves, soup dinners and cozy reading. Happy Fall everyone!