The sights, sounds, and smell of fall is one I look forward to every year. This post showcase fall fun activities and recipes for anyone to enjoy.
Crisp. The air, the leaves, the apples soaking in nutmeg and cinnamon warming in the oven, and the slivers of sunlight streaking through early morning haze. It’s easy to fall in love with fall all over again. There’s a zing to everything - a nearly palpable energy that invigorates you to do...something! Before the season or the feeling passes, here are a few ‘To dos’ to embrace the crisp:
- Visit a pumpkin Patch
- Rake a pile of leaves and jump in
- Make S’mores
- Watch Hocus Pocus
- Update your mailing list for Christmas Cards
- Bake Apple crisp and harvest breads
- Start practicing holiday recipes
- Help out at a soup kitchen/food bank
If you are in the Dallas area, two of my favorite patches are the Dallas Arboretum and Hall’s Pumpkin Farm & Corn Maze. I may be a little obsessed with the Dallas Arboretum. How could I not, with it’s beautiful landscapes, summer concerts perfect for picnicking, and holiday events that embody the season (not to mention, I had my bridal portraits done here, and the experience was phenomenal, as is everything they do). Autumn at the Arboretum is no exception and has been named one of “America’s Best Pumpkin Festivals” by Fodors Travel. Built around the classic theme “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” the event, featuring displays of the Peanut Gallery built with fall foliage, opens late September and runs through the month of October. The always stunning arboretum is transformed by beautiful autumnal hues, as over 150,000 flowers and nearly 100,000 gourds festoon the grounds and welcome guests of all ages. And who wouldn’t want to sit with Linus keeping vigil in the patch?
Hall’s Pumpkin Farm and Corn Maze offers a slightly more laid back atmosphere, with tractors and old fords that make for great fall photo ops (and entertaining kids as they climb on board). The farm offers hay rides, a ~2 acre corn maze to explore, and a picnic area where you can kick back and snack on kettle corn while you decide which pumpkin you’d like to take home. The maze can take 20 minutes or so to get through (unless you are my boy scout husband, who amused the staff placed throughout the maze to make sure everyone is safe and having fun, when he got us out in about 7. Still not sure how he did that, which could be said about a lot of things he does.)
S’more to love
There’s more to s’mores than meets the mouth in our family. A boy scout and a girl scout, my husband and I grew up camping (we prefer glamping now, but still know how to start a mean campfire) so s’mores already held some childhood nostalgia for us. One evening at an outdoor charity event, however, they took on greater meaning, when we said, “I love you,” for the first time while melting marshmallows over an open flame. From that moment on, we’ve had a sappy sweet spot for s’mores (and I’m ok with that.).
To make your s’mores extra sweet and sensational, add fun toppings to your s’mores smorgasbord. Some of our favorites include Reese’s cups, flavored marshmallows like strawberry and coconut, and chocolate grahams. And if the weather isn’t cooperating, pop your s’mores, sans upper graham, on a parchment covered baking sheet and put them in the oven on broil for ~1-2 minutes and viola! Insta-s’more!
You can always tell a southerner by the way they show emotion through food. Someone sick? Bring them a casserole. Someone going through a break-up, bring them a pie. Someone say holiday - oh honey, break out the extra table leaf because everyone will ask, ‘what can I bring’ and no matter your answer, they will bring that and then some.
Fall baking, whether due to that zing in our step, or an upcoming Halloween or Thanksgiving event, was no exception in my family. The commotion in the kitchen was something to behold with four women baking up a storm, and I can still feel the warmth (sentimentally, but also from the oven and people - it was hot and crowded in there, y’all!).
Those memories are precious - even the ones where I dumped Lawry’s seasoning in the pumpkin pie cuz it looked exactly like the cinnamon container. It did!! Or the time my brother-in-law left the fork at the bottom of the green jello salad, forever frozen in green goo. We tell those stories over and over each year, and I wouldn’t change them for the world. Ok maybe I’d change it so one of my sisters dumped the Lawry’s in, but that’s it. And when we were done baking, flour and pumpkin, banana and zucchini loaves, piled as far as the eye could see and far beyond what the stomach could hold, covered kitchen counters. For some of my mom’s harvest bread recipes to bake while you make more family memories, check out my Harvest Bread blog (link).
Magic is in the air the nearer we get to All Hallow’s Eve - so chase the harvest moon and embrace the season! For more fun holiday ideas and treats, I hope you’ll check out the blog next week!