Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Chocolate Fudge Scones

Scones.  Are they breakfast food?  Are they mid-morning snacks?  Are they dessert?  Scones can be any of these things, but this recipe for Chocolate Fudge Scones leans toward a dessertiness that can be beautifully complimented with raspberry preserves or  hot fudge and vanilla ice cream. 

While you might not find such chocolate-infused pastries at a proper British tea, we Americans embrace chocolate-anything and this recipe is well-rounded enough to satisfy our innate fudge cravings with a tad more sophistication!

CHOCOLATE FUDGE SCONES
makes 1 dozen

1 1/2  cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons cold butter (1 1/2 bars)
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup milk soured with 1 tbsp. vinegar)
2 beaten eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg for egg wash

Powdered sugar

In large mixing bowl, stir together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Cut in cold butter with a pastry cutter, or two knives, until the butter is the size of small peas.  Make sure that you can still see pieces of butter and that they don't disappear into the mix.  Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts, if using.

Beat two eggs together in a medium mixing bowl.  Add buttermilk and vanilla.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour egg mixture in the middle.  Pull it all together with a fork until all ingredients are moistened.  Place in refrigerator for half an hour.

On floured surface (parchment paper or wax paper) pat out all the dough into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle.  Fold it over itself a few times, patting it into a new rectangle each time.  This makes flaky layers.  Pat the dough into a final, evenly shaped rectangle.  Cut in half.  Shape each half into a 6" round circle, evenly shaped, a bit higher in the center and slightly tapered at the perimeter.  Place each round onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Freeze for half an hour.

Remove from freezer and with sharp knife or fluted cutter, cut each round into six wedges.  Separate the wedges and place back on the parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Brush with beaten egg/  Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes. 

Cool for 10 minutes and remove to wire rack.  Lightly sprinkle cooled scones with confectioners sugar. 


Photo image borrowed from: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_OKhn5-xUtLc/R600SMiYv7I/AAAAAAAAAAM/qazi7x3ZqIc/s1600-h/chocolate_scone.jpg

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Apple Cider Doughnuts, Made at Home!

I don't know whether people flock to apple orchards this time of year more for the apples or for apple cider doughnuts. If you watch, you'll realize that along with over-filled bags of apples, orchard-goers often carry out another bag, a white, paper bag, lightly grease-stained with still-warm apple cider doughnuts (if they haven't already eaten them!). I searched the internet for a simple apple cider doughnut recipe, and the one that follows is a compilation of the best of them. The ingredients are basically the same -- some use more spices, others less -- but the basic foundation is a boiled-and-reduced cider, thus the name. I've opted to eliminate the shortening called for in some of the older recipes and use the suggested vegetable oil instead, not that such a substitution makes thes health food, by any means. But they are a seasonal treat, and you don't have to go to the orchard to indulge this craving. You can pick up a bottle of cider in the produce section of your grocery store and be on your way to making your own special fall treat.

APPLE CIDER DOUGHNUTS

1 cup apple cider
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons butter (at room temperature)
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk (low-fat or nonfat works fine) or 1/2 cup milk and 1 tablespoon vinegar combined for 1 minute or more

Canola or vegetable oil for frying (enough for 3" depth in large, heavy-bottomed pan)

Coating

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


In a small saucepan, bring the apple cider to a boil and let it simmer, uncovered, until it is reduced to 1/4 cup, up to 20 to 30 minutes or however long it takes. Set aside to cool.

In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter and sugar together.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add buttermilk and cooled, reduced cider.

In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg.
Add these to liquid ingredients; mix just enough to combine.
On a lightly floured parchment or wax paper, sprinkle the batter with flour.
Gently turn the dough over to coat both sides with flour.

Roll or press the dough until it is about 1/2 inch thick. adding more flour as necessary to keep it from sticking.

Place the rolled dough on the cookie sheet in the freezer for 20 minutes to half an hour. Remove the dough from the freezer.

Using a floured 3-inch doughnut cutter (or a biscuit cutter and the top to a soda bottle), cut out the doughnut shapes.

Place the doughnuts and holes onto a paper-lined (parchment or wax) second cookie sheet pan.

Refrigerate the doughnuts for another half-hour. (If you have leftover dough scraps, re-roll and cut more doughnuts).

Add enough oil to fill a deep pan 3 inches; heat the oil to 375 F (check with a frying or candy thermomenter).

Fry two or three (four if they'll fit) doughnuts at a time, turning once or twice, until golden brown and cooked through, about a minute per side. Watch them carefully to avoid burning.

Remove the doughnuts with metal tongs or a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain.

While still warm, toss in a bowl containing the cinnamon sugar mixture (or shake in a paper bag).

Cool on wire rack long enough to avoid burning your mouth!

Image borrowd from: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/uimages/kitchen/2009-10-09-CiderDonuts.jpg

Friday, September 24, 2010

Maple Walnut Brownies from KAF

Those of you who know me know I am a devotee of King Arthur Flour (KAF), so much so that friends and I took a 3+ hour road trip to Norwich, Vermont to spend half a day and a lot of money!  I get a daily email from KAF (and so do many others, I'm not that special!) which links to wonderful recipes.  One I am intent on making and haven't yet is the recipe for Maple Walnut Brownies.  They sound great, and even though I haven't yet messed up my kitchen with their preparation, I can assure you that any recipe from KAF is beyond good.  King Arthur Flour is a kitchen/baking lab as well as a retail resource, and reviewers' comments attest to just how good the recipes are. Here's KAF's recipe for Maple Walnut Brownies

MAPLE WALNUT BROWNIES

"Chewy, moist, and with assertive-yet-smooth maple flavor, these brownies are a great change from chocolate."
1 1/4 cups (5 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup (5 5/8 ounces) brown sugar
1/3 cup (3 1/4 ounces) maple syrup
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon maple flavor
3/4 cup (3 ounces) chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8" square pan.
Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder; set aside. Melt the butter and brown sugar together in the microwave or over a burner; remove from the heat and stir in the syrup. Allow the mixture to cool to lukewarm. Stir in the eggs one at a time, then the maple flavor. Stir in the dry ingredients, and finally the walnuts.

Pour into the prepared pan, and bake for 25 minutes, just until the edges pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the oven, and cool before cutting and glazing. Yield: sixteen 2" brownies.

Maple Glaze

1 cup (4 ounces) glazing sugar or confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 to 2 tablespoons milk or cream

Recipe Credit: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/PrintRecipeOld?RID=1186593058013
Photo credit: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/maple-walnut-brownies-recipe

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Chocolate Orange Cake and Nice Send Off!

Yesterday afternoon was my last day in my previous position, and today I am on to new adventures.  The day before, I brought in a cake for my friend Mary's birthday.  It was a bit of an experiment.  I took a basic pound-type cake, added cocoa and orange oil, and glazed it with a chocolate orange glaze.  I kept waiting to hear whether she liked it or not, but no word...  Hmmm.  That's not the typical scenario.  I figured Mary was busy and that she'd let me know later if it was good, how she liked it, etc.

At 3:30 yesterday, a number of faculty and my Chair from the English Department held a little fare-well reception for me.  I walked into the room and there was Mary's cake, repurposed for my little shin-dig!  It was really very sweet of her to donate her cake to our party, though I never would have intentionally baked a cake for myself!  It was a good thing, because I actually got to have a slice of my own creation, and it was nice to hear how much everyone enjoyed it.  My friend Melora said it was the best cake she ever had!  What a compliment!

Last Day in the English Department

After the reception, I packed up a big box of eight years-worth of stuff and junk, of precious photos and memorabelia, and needed a cart to drag it all out to my car.  I returned the cart and remembered the plant Mary gave me as a gift for my new office space.  I walked out to my car carrying one lone. little plant.  What a cliche vision of someone's last day! 

Today I am filled with very mixed emotions.  I am so excited and grateful for this new opportunity, but mixed with that is a good bit of melancholy over leaving behind a very happy part of my life.  The future is looking good, however, and I will embrace this new job with as much positive energy and enthusiasm as I can.  Meanwhile, baking continues.  The baking is a constant.

CHOCOLATE ORANGE CAKE

1/4 cup butter (4 tbsp.) softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream or plain greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange oil
1 teaspoon dried orange rind (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare bundt or tube pan:  spray with vegetable spray or grease and flour.

Cream butter with sugar.  Add vanilla extract and orange oil.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well.  Add sour cream.

Mix dry ingredients together in separate bowl.  Add to butter mixture.  Mix on low until all ingredients are completely combined. 

Bake for about 40 minutes (depending on your oven).  Cake is done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, or middle of cake bounces back when lightly pressed.  Pay attention - you may need to bake this five or ten minutes longer, depending on your oven.

GLAZE

2 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. orange oil
water

Stir together sugar and cocoa powder in medium bowl.  Add water, a teaspoon at a time, until the glaze is the consistency of Elmer's glue.  Drizzle over cake.

Enjoy!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Change, Change Would Do You Good...

If Sheryl Crow's lyrics "Change would do you good" are any indication, I'm in for quite an improvement!  This week has been one of rapid change for me (and very little blogging!) in the other part of my life where work does not involve flour, sugar, and butter, and a sink full of mixing bowls and pans!  Today was the first day of the rest of my work life, the job I intend to keep until retirement.  I am the new Senior Administrative Assistant to the Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Skidmore College.  It's an exciting new opportunity at a time when opportunities are few and far between, and I consider myself very fortunate.  Of course, this means leaving behind a department-full of friends, and that's the bitter-sweet compromise I am forced to balance in moving forward.  The good thing about this move is that I am still geographically very close to all those I've come to love, and though I won't be at the desk I've occupied over the past eight years, I'll be only minutes away. 

The weekend leading up to today's change didn't allow for a lot of dwelling on the new life I've embarked on today.  Nope.  It was all about the baking.  I had promised two wedding cakes to people, even after vowing that I was going to cut my cake-baking obligations markedly and actually find time to have a life outside my 9-5.  But, they asked...which is all it seems to take to convince me to contribute my efforts toward someone's special day.  The first cake was for a young housekeeper at work, who asked me to bake a wedding cake for his small wedding reception.  At first I told him I didn't have time, but later thought about it, and realized that I could handle it.  It wasn't going to be a huge cake...I could do it.  Then a friend of a friend called and asked for a cake the same weekend, and as long as I was baking up a storm, what are a few more tiers?  I baked days in advance, wrapping and freezing layers, and only removing from the freezer the morning of the weddings, when I got up at 6 a.m. and methodically constructed cake 1, and then cake 2.  Cake 2 required a bit of fondant work, and I did most of that the night before.  Anyway, cakes were crumb coated, frosted, stuck with dowels, stacked, and decorated in a flurry.  I loaded each one into my car and delivered them on time (if you were behind a cute little Mazda 3 going 10 torturous mph on major roads in Saratoga this weekend, that might've been me). 

Here are the fruits of this weekend's labor:


Cake #1

Cake # 2

I've never tackled two wedding cakes in one weekend before, and I won't be doing that again!  It's an awful lot of work, but it was worth it when I saw the beaming smiles on the brides' faces.  They loved them!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mary Cogan's Apple Cake

Apple Cake
(Paula Deen's version)
Last Saturday when I was mozy-ing around Greenfield Center, New York, checking out garage sales, I didn't accomplish much.  Well, I didn't buy anything, but the time spent was well worth it.  It was a gorgeous morning, crisply-cool with a brilliant blue sky overhead.  I drove around craning my neck toward this driveway, then that, annoying the heck out of the drivers behind me on Middle Grove Road!  First I stopped at my co-worker and friend Mary Wright's house on South Greenfield Road.  We hung out for a while and chatted while people came and went.  It was evident that morning that one man's trash is another man's treasure, as my mom Virginia O'Farrell used to say ("man" meant everyone, then).  I was on the look-out for a bundt pan (could always use another) and a next-to-new easy chair to be reinvented.  I didn't find either, but what I did find, on Canyon Crossing, were my old friends, the Parkers.  I thought I'd stop for a few minutes and then continue my quest.  I stayed for four hours, sitting on lawn chairs in their driveway, chatting with Susan, Tom, and their beautiful daughter Christi, while shoppers stopped and moved on.  Christi's three little children were playing with the toys for sale, as if they were seeing them for the first time.  It was a great afternoon!

Meghan Eddy and Christi Parker

I first met Tom and Susan Parker in May of 1988 when we were constructing the Greenfield Elementary School Playground, a huge project that brought the whole community together for a week of intensive construction under the supervision of the Robert Leathers architectural firm.  The Parker family had just moved to Greenfield from Connecticut.  Before they even settled in, Tom was on the site of the new playground, hammering away.  My daughter Meghan and their daughter Christi were seven years old at the time and became fast and forever friends. 

While we were reminiscing out there on the driveway, I mentioned that I spent the early morning searching for apple cake recipes on the internet.  Susan told me the story of her favorite apple cake, one that she purchased at a fund raiser for Saint Peters Academy (now Spa Catholic) when her kids were students there.  She bought the cake and it was so good they tore it apart on the way home and ate it like that!  She was so impressed with the cake that she asked who had made it, wanting the recipe.  It was made by our mutual friend Mary Cogan.  A few days later, there was a knock on her door, and there stood Mary, apple cake in hand!  Anyone who knows Mary won't be surprised by this story.  She is one of the most generous, gracious people on this earth.  So, thanks to Susan for the wonderful story, and to Mary for the recipe!

(The cake photo above is from the Food Network Site, which accompanies Paula Deen's own recipe for apple cake .  The photo of Meghan and Christi comes from a field trip to Lake George in third grade, most likely taken by me or ). 


MARY COGAN'S FRESH APPLE CAKE

(two loaves or one tube pan)
1 ½ cup cooking oil
2 cups sugar
3 well beaten eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cps flour, I usually use half white and wheat, but all white is fine too
1 tsp soda
1tsp salt
1tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves (optional)
3 cups chopped apple
1 cup pecans (optional)

Mix oil and sugar. Add beaten eggs and vanilla. Sift together flour, soda, salt and spices. Add to oil mixture. Fold in peeled apples. Bake in greased and floured tube pan at 350 for at least one hour. I will be done when it comes lose from sides of the pan and is solid in the center. Much depends on juice in apples. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Invert on cake dish and ice with caramel icing. Can be iced while warm.

I’ve included the recipe for the icing, although I have never used it. I usually just sprinkle a bit of confectioner’s sugar on the cake.
I often bake this cake in 2 bread pans. It’s a great dessert or special breakfast bread. It’s even better the next day.

Caramel Icing:

½ cup sugar
½ cup water

In skillet or heavy pan, brown sugar until completely melted and golden brown. Add the ¼ water.

In another boiler cook 3 cup sugar, 1 stick margarine and 2/3 cup evaporated milk. Add this mixture to caramelized sugar in skillet and cook until soft ball stage. Beat until cool and ice cake.


Photo Credit:  http://recipes.pauladeen.com/images/uploads/Grandgirls_Fresh_Apple_Cake.jpg

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Apple Fritter Rings

After visiting Saratoga Apple Labor Day weekend with Henry and company, I posted a picture of the little cutie on my facebook page, which immediately prompted requests for everything apple, including fritters.  Many recipes use chopped apples.  This recipe, from CDKitchens, uses apple rings, and I like the idea of a real chunk of apple in the batter.  I share it with you, along with yet another picture of my cute little apple picker!

Henry in the Orchard


APPLE FRITTER RINGS
from CDKitchens
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 dash salt
  • 5 large tart apples
  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

In a bowl, beat egg, milk and oil. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt; stir into egg mixture until smooth (batter will be thick). Peel, core and cut apples into 1/2-inch rings.

In an electric skillet or deep-fat fryer, heat oil to 375ºF. Dip apple rings into batter; fry a few at a time, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over hot fritters. Serve warm.

Recipe credit:  http://www.cdkitchen.com/recipes/recs/1540/Apple-Fritter-Rings84783.shtml

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Feasting

Labor Day weekend was one of feasting at our home in Middle Grove, New York.  Katie and Bill played hosts to in-laws all weekend.  One of the benefits of being the Granny-Upstairs is that I am invited to many of the downstairs bashes, this weekend included.  Also feasting were my ex-husband Gene, his wife Kathryn, our daughter Tricia, and son Jeff. 

Here's what was on the menu:  steaks from The Meat House.  UNBELIEVABLE!  Bill's brother Chris hauled home platters-full of cowboy steaks (I'd never heard of them) and T-bone (I have heard of those!).  Added to the carnivorous portion of the meal was grilled chicken, sided by baked beans, shrimp, steamed clams, corn-on-the-cob, garlic bread and knots with marinara, grilled asparagus -- it was rediculously pentiful!  I had left-over batter from a cake I'd made for my friend Liz, and baked a little 8x8 pan of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, just in case anyone needed to be pushed over the edge after such a sumptuous meal!

The rest of the weekend included hanging around the house, checking on the chickens who are no longer chicks and (in my opinion) no longer cute!  (I'm a little more citified, what can I say?).  Henry had close encounters with dirt piles, necessitating frequent baths to remove pounds of sand from his hair.  We took a ride to Saratoga Apple for the first macs of the season.  The weekend was capped with a big bonfire and s'mores.

This was cute six weeks ago!
Dirt-lovin' boy!
At Saratoga Apple
Katie and Bill sure know how to entertain guests.  I think their guest room will be occupied more often than not!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Open-Faced Apple Almond Tart from Yankee Magazine

This recipe comes from the September '09 issue of Yankee Magazine.  It was such a beautiful issue that I've kept it in a pile of special magazines and cookbooks by my bedside.  Featured were orchard-to-table apple recipes from Yankee Food Editor Annie Copps, and this one, especially, caught my eye.  It is an open-faced apple tart (known in gourmet-ese as a galette), and what really piqued my interest is the almond factor, in the form of thinly-sliced almonds and almond paste.  I realize that most people won't want to make their own almond paste since you can buy a tube of it in the baking isle of pretty much any decent grocery store.  However, making it is not rocket science, and you just might want to try it.  This recipe calls for a food processor for making the paste, but a blender works as well.  Yankee Magazine has provided some wonderful night-time reading for me.  Most people read novels before they fall asleep.  I read recipes!


Open-Faced Apple Almond Tart
Recipe credited to Annie Copps, Food Editor, Yankee Magazine

    * 4 apples (your choice), peeled, seeds removed, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
    * 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    * 1 tablespoon brown sugar
    * 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
    * 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    * Flour (for dusting work surface)
    * Joanne's Tart Dough
    * Almond Paste
    * 1/2 cup thinly sliced almonds (optional)
    * 1 tablespoon white granulated sugar, divided
    * 1 large egg white
    * 1 tablespoon water

Heat oven to 400°. In a large bowl, combine apple wedges, lemon juice, brown sugar, almond extract, and cinnamon; toss well to coat.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll Joanne's Tart Dough out into a 16-inch round (about 1/8 inch thick), and place on a baking sheet.

Now roll Almond Paste into a 12-inch round and place it in the center of the dough. (It's okay if it breaks apart; it'll be covered with apples.)

Leaving a 2-inch border of dough, arrange apple wedges in an overlapping spiral from the edges to the center. Sprinkle with sliced almonds (if desired) and approximately 1 teaspoon white granulated sugar. Gently fold a 3-inch section of dough over the edge of the apple wedges; repeat with the remaining dough.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg white and water. Brush outside edge of dough with egg mixture. Sprinkle edge with remaining sugar. Bake 30 minutes or until dough is well browned. Let cool about 10 minutes before serving.

Joanne's Tart Dough

    * 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
    * 2 teaspoons sugar
    * 1/2 teaspoon table salt
    * 11 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
    * 1 large egg yolk
    * 2 tablespoons whole milk

Annie writes "This is...Joanne Chang's recipe, which originally ran in Fine Cooking magazine. She was happy to share it with us. Come next autumn [this autumn] we'll have a whole collection of her recipes with the release of her first cookbook."

In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Cut butter into 1/2-inch cubes and add to flour mixture. On low speed, combine butter and flour, just until flour is no longer white and mixture holds together when pressed. If there are lumps of butter larger than a pea, break them up with your fingers.

In a small bowl, mix egg yolk and milk; add to flour mixture and combine on low speed. Place dough on a lightly floured work surface. Work it with the heel of your hand, pushing and smearing it away from you, then gathering it back together with a bench scraper until the dough comes together. Wrap dough in plastic wrap; then flatten it into a disk and refrigerate for at least a half hour (up to four days, or freeze for months).
Almond Paste

    * 1 cup water
    * 5 ounces granulated white sugar
    * 1/4 cup corn syrup
    * 10 ounces blanched almonds
    * 10 ounces powdered sugar

Make a sugar syrup: Place water, granulated sugar, and corn syrup in a saucepan, and stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil. Let it cook for a few moments; then let it cool. Place almonds in a food processor and grind to a fine powder. Add powdered sugar. Then with the food processor running, add sugar syrup slowly, until the mixture forms a paste.

photo credit: http://i.timeinc.net/recipes/i/recipes/su/07/09/apple-galette-su-630050-l.jpg

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Summer's Practically Over!

It's hard to believe that summer is almost over.  I'm not ready to acknowledge that reality.  Surely there are more visits to Lake George, more time wondering what to do with a beautiful, warm, sunny day.  I want more days to breathe slowly, read a good book, relax and do nothing in particular.  But no, that's not the case. Time proceeds.  I work at a college where every little sight and sound indicates that, by this time next week, students and faculty will be well into their first week of classes.  My office will be swamped with people with 1000 questions.  I'll be lucky to complete one thought before the next one surfaces, and the odd thing is, I will love it.  This love of busy-ness is bittersweet, because I am not prone to relaxing and almost need to force myself to stop to enjoy life.  I know that once it starts, my work world will be in fast-forward mode all the way through the end of the semester, just before Christmas, when I'll stop again to go visit my daughter Meghan in California for her birthday, December 20.

So, during this time of year, when leaves are starting (already) to change color, and a few are beginning to drop to the ground, I think of the autumns of my childhood.  One very prominent memory is of my mom helping us to collect colorful leaves.  We'd take our jewel-colored leaves into the house where she'd set up the ironing board and, with two sheets of waxed paper, my mother would iron our precious collections into beautiful works of art, preserved from deterioration.  We'd hang our creations in the windows as if they were the most intricate pieces of stained glass.  I continued this tradition with my own children, and now I'm eager to watch Katie carry this on with her little one (soon to be two little ones!).

It's the simple things that bring the most joy.

Photo credit and instructions to do this yourself:  http://i.ehow.com/images/a05/a6/u3/press-leaves-wax-paper-200X200.jpg