IT’S REALLY AUTUMN

Hello Everyone! Rabbit-Rabbit! Happy October!🎃 It’s really Autumn! MUSICA for falling leaves . . .

I’m inspired by our daily walks through the sun-dappled woods to the sea, leaves are just beginning to turn, drifting from trees, smells of compost and salty air, gulls swooping and calling, woodsmoke on the wind, coming home to my own harvest kitchen . . . 

Once again I have too much to tell you for one blog! There’s our trip to the Hudson River with Rachel and Paul who flew over from England, the Red Lion Inn, the Norman Rockwell Museum, the amazing studio of Daniel Chester French who designed the Lincoln Memorial, our adventures with FOOD, and so much more! Ray and I saw Downton! Each of these stories is a blog post all by itself! Plus Cookies! The fall garden! And, there’s FREE STUFF! (Done, click there for fall gifties!) I’m going to have to save some of this for next time. Just wanted you to know it’s lurking . . . First off, three 🎥 quickies:We bravely went to see Quentin Tarantino newest movie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood . . . turns out, it’s one of those movies you can’t quit thinking about! Changes history brilliantly. So fun to talk about afterward. Go if you can. (One girlfriend said Brad Pitt on the roof was worth the price of the movie! Yessss!) Peeking through fingers only required toward the end, it’s Tarantino after all, but you will know, and it’s all SO worth it. We also went to Lowely’s house last night 🍿 and watched Richard Curtis movie Yesterday. Pure Sweetness and Light. Has Lily James in it. Music makes you cry. Isn’t it nice, Yesterday, like Downty, HUGE financial successes without violence! Hope for the world!!! And another to come, Renee Zellweger staring as Judy Garland, in theaters now or soon! (See how I am ~ yak-yak ~ We’ll never get out of here.)

SO! Here we go! We picked up Ray and Paul in Boston ~ there they were, all smiles and hugs. We threw their bags into the car and off we went, four old friends, hill and dale, on back roads through the NEW England Countryside, talk-talk-talking, to our first stop…the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, for lunch.

There’s our table . . . and if you love wallpaper like I love wallpaper, you are a happy camper at this moment. See the teapots on the shelf in the window lights? It’s what they do at the historical Red Lion Inn.

Paul and Joe are best friends. These talented boys can cook! Which they did for us in our rented house . . . they are ALL about the newspapers and food, maps and curiosity. What’s not to love.💘

The front porch of the Inn . . . we had wonderful weather! We ate here twice, on our way to, and on our way back.

You would recognize this town if you’re familiar with Norman Rockwell illustrations. For years his studio was on the second floor of a building right here in the middle of town. He thought Stockbridge was the prettiest small town in New England. 

Spectacularly charming, could move right in.

So pretty, in the most old-fashioned way. I knew you would like this.

And of course, they have an Inn cat, aptly named “Norman” ~ probably the most spoiled cat in the history of the world as he gets petted about 3,000 times a day! Add me to the multitudes.

We rented a house in Hudson, New York  . . (the one on the right! Just wanted you to see the leaves!). It’s owned by a Scottish woman named “Morag” ~ she showed us around, highlighting the “reason she bought the house,” a wonderful PANTRY, filled with dishes and every pot, pan, and cooking utensil known to man, a girl after own heart . . . her walls were covered with art, her bookcases spilled over with books about everything we love, Beatrix Potter, British cookery books, antiques, gardens, on and on.

She showed us where to put the veg peelings, egg shells and coffee grounds . . . this little notice was framed on the wall in the kitchen, we decided, yes for sure, she is PLU (People Like Us). We loved the house.

It had a porch perfect for sitting, being served by husbands, tea and toast, or dishes of cheese and biscuits, wine and nuts, and lots of newspapers.

Way too much to see in this part of the country for the one week we were there. We never even went north, despite the clear glories of doing so, but time restrictions kept us seeing as much as we could, going south and crossing back and forth over the Hudson River . . . The good news is, we didn’t come near to seeing everything. We’ll have to go back!

We mostly ate, but when we weren’t eating, we visited homes, gardens, and museums (and the gift shops) of local heroes . . . filling ourselves with beauty and history.

Here we are at Olana, home of Frederick Edwin Church, famous landscape artist of the Hudson Valley (look at his view! No wonder!) who I knew almost nothing about, except I’m related to him! (Ancestry.com strikes again!)

House was filled with art, but a bit dark ~ quite a nice gift shop . . . the outdoors was luv-lee. 

More quick pics . . . Joe and Ray in the kitchen!

Me in Rhinebeck.

Us, out and about.

Downtown Hudson.

Sweet photo of Paul and Ray . . .

Lunch on the porch of the historic Liberty Public House in Rhinebeck, New York. We had such a wonderful time.

Really and truly, all we did was eat . . . Delicious restaurants in Hudson, this was a place called “Swoon Kitchen Bar.” Which we definitely did swoon! We also loved La Perche. And P.S., excellent shopping and a GORGEOUS church in Hudson. Lots of antique stores too! (Paul’s eye was bothering him, so we got him a patch. He looked so cute in it, we thought he should keep it forever! Swashbuckling! We all started saying things like, Arrrgh, aye, and bucko.)

Here’s our boys making dinner . . . Mas Musica . . .(The voice of Martha’s Vineyard if it could sing) . . .🎶

. . . while grateful girls hang out on porch, toast the guys, read books, solve world problems, and do Twitter.

Fruits of their labors! Delicious, salmon, baked squash, scalloped potatoes, salad, and . . .

For dessert, Joe’s absolute FAVORITE, Friendly’s (he knows their whole history), “Forbidden Chocolate” and “Vienna Mocha Chunk.”As you know . . .

If you’re going to this neck of the woods, be sure to save time for the antique stores. They’re everywhere!

Filled with lovely useful things, perfect for recyclers. . . just waiting for adoption.

Of course we stopped at farm stands ~ had to have Cider donuts! Covered in crunchy sugar!

Picked up our favorite local Honey Crisp apples, must be a cup of apple juice in these juicy things!🍎

Got these too, to put over our front door!

Took Ray to Wal-mart to get little things they can’t find in England . . . grape jelly and Pam Vegetable Spray! Paul got a new hat! There’s so much more to tell you ~ it was awful to say goodbye to them, we live so far apart, but I know you know that. It’s never over for us, there will always be a next time.🚢 So much to look forward to! There she is, at her house! But what I have to do now is go to Physical Therapy for my wrist in about an hour! I want to mail this out to you first, and I have MORE, so let’s change the subject to . . . Home Sweet Home and

I was making cookies … so I set the butter out to come to room temperature, then “helped” Joe put up the pumpkins . . . my job was taking pictures!

Pumpkins above the door are a tradition for this old house . . .🎃

And one for the kitchen porch.

Then out to the garden I went to gather some flowers for my little vases. Our garden is showing signs of age …

But still filled with fall color . . . We planted lots of different kinds of lettuce and kale ~ the easy way, with a couple six-packs of starts. We’ll pick fresh leaves for salads until the first heavy frost!

Tiny vases on window sills cheer a person up.

 

Happiness is . . .

Our boy on the ironing board . . . My shadow . . .

My favorite dishes for Autumn needed a good washing . . . Having a birthday party for Martha next week, so I’ll use my Johnson Brothers “Windsorware” (Made in England, just down the block from where our cups are made!) because they make a beautiful table.

Into the dishwasher they go! Purple goes great with all fall colors!

And this doll.💋 Water’s boiling, tea for me, tea for Joe . . . and now . . . the butter is soft, ready for creaming with sugar to make . . .

Years ago I was at a party and someone served butter cookies that looked like candy corn. I thought they were darling. I’ve been meaning to try to figure out how it was done for years, and yesterday was the day!And you do it with Home Cooking . . . and fall is the perfect time! Cooking, planting lettuce, and putting flowers in vases are very wonderful ways of reducing stress. A win-win every time!

They didn’t turn out quite perfect, shape-wise, but still cute, and they tasted delicious . . . I did learn how . . . so I’ll show you and you can do better!

I used my recipe for Butter Cookies (Annie Hall’s) in my Christmas Book on p. 82 (for you that have that book ~ but I’ll also put the recipe at the end of this post). First, with a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together, then beat in the egg yolks and vanilla . . . so easy!

Sift the flour and salt together (you see my mother’s daughter here in the folded pieces of wax paper . . . she always used them at least twice, folded them up and saved them for the next time ~ so me too). Like our New England grandmothers said, “Make do, or do without.”

Then beat the flour into the butter . . .

You want to just bring the dough together (with your hands if necessary), because there’s extra mixing when you add the food coloring . . . But first divide the dough in half, then divide the other half into one-third and two-thirds pieces ~ so you have small, medium, and large chunks of dough. Set them aside.

I was so enthralled with this part I almost forgot to take pictures, but with a combination of mixer and kneading, you add the food coloring. You add more than you think because baking softens the color and you want it strong, keep putting drops of coloring in until you get it right (start with at least 8 drops of each color), mix dough only as much as you have to. The largest piece should be nice bright yellow. The two-thirds piece will be orange (as in photo above, mixture of red and yellow coloring), and the smallest will remain “white” or dough-colored.

You’re basically looking for this.

Once colored, lay out a piece of clean wax paper, roll the pieces between your hands into 10″ rolls, all three the same length. Put the yellow on the bottom, the orange on top of the yellow, the plain on top of that.

So it’s like this. You can gauge your colors from this photo . . . very bright when raw, but kinda perfect when cooked.

Then you mold your shape. Here’s where I would have made changes, while the dough was still nice and soft, I would have smoothed the seams a bit, and widened the bottom by pushing down on the top a little more.

It does NOT have to be perfect for cuteness, but afterwards, I drew the shape you should aim for . . . the cookies don’t change shape much while baking, so what you see is what you get. Once you get your rolls pushed into shape, wrap the dough in waxed paper and put it in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight. When ready, preheat oven to 350º and slice off the end of the roll for as many cookies as you wish to make. Place them on an UN-greased cookie sheet, bake 10-12 minutes, but do not brown the bottoms.

Mine, all chilled, and ready to go in. And because they are now so cold and firm, it’s not a good time to attempt changing the shape.

Here they are cooling on our kitchen table, and if I do say myself, DELICIOUS. Took them to movie night at Lowely and John’s last night and they loved them too.

But you can do a better job of shaping, and I will too, next time! Living and learning.😘Now, here’s where it gets crazy, because I have to go! I’ll be back later and put the recipe right here at the bottom of this post, so if you want it, come on back and here it will be! Wrist got its morning exercise! Going to get it bent back into shape, just like the cookies! Love you girls, still More To Come for the PLU. That means YOU. 💞 P.S. Speaking in Edgartown, MA Oct. 26, read all about it here, just in cases you’ll be on Martha’s Vineyard ~ so much going on for the Food and Wine Festival! 😘 Okay, zee recipe ~ Here we go, I halved it, but if you make the whole thing you’ll get 6-7 dozen cookies.

CANDY CORN BUTTER COOKIES

  • 2 c. butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Yellow and red food coloring

With an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar. Add egg yolks and vanilla and mix well. Sift flour and salt together and beat into butter mixture until mixed. Use your fingers to gather the dough into a ball. Divide dough in half, then divide one of the halves into 1/3 and 2/3 pieces. You’ll have 3 hunks of dough, small, medium, and large. Poke holes in the large piece, and put in drops of yellow food coloring, at least 8 drops to start. Break the dough up a bit in the bowl and use mixer to spread the strong color evenly. Make a ball. Do the same with the medium size piece ~ use yellow and red to make a good strong orange. Leave the smallest piece natural. Because I halved the recipe, I made each color of dough into a 10″ roll, but if you make the whole recipe, you’ll need to make two sets of 10″ rolls (otherwise they’ll be so long they won’t fit in the fridge). Put the orange roll on top of the yellow roll, the white on top of the yellow. Look at the drawing I did. You’ll see you need to mold the sides in so it’s wider on the bottom, narrower on the top, top should be rounded. You can do this! It’s fun! Wrap it up, put it in the fridge for 4 hours, or overnight. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350º … cut the dough into 1/2″ slices, put them on ungreased cookie sheet, about 1″ apart. Bake 10 min, but don’t brown them. Remove baked cookies from pan while still warm and cool, onto sheets of waxed paper. Ta daah! (And don’t forget, same recipe works for all your cookie cutter recipes!)You can sign up HERE to have this blog delivered to your email box! And one more thing! (Do I keep saying that?)

Remember this happiness from last Christmas?

Guess what! I searched and searched, because we had so much fun with these colorful necklaces, I wanted to find them for you, and I DID! For as long as they last, first come, first serve. They made our dinner sparkle!The Christmas tree garland too (hanging on the mirror), and doves! We just got a new supply, getting ready!

Okay, I think now I’m really done. Hope you all have a WONDERFUL day. Making home a wonderful place, deep breathing, stopping to smell the flowers, and remembering all the ways we’ve been blessed.💖 

This is for our girlfriend Nicoline . . . Rachel’s Lemon Butter Cookies in the darling Chinese version of A Fine Romance, coming your way soon, Nicoline!💖

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332 Responses to IT’S REALLY AUTUMN

  1. Jo'L says:

    Happy for your visit with dear friends, what makes life worth living.

    Fall is made even better by your post, a “homing” time of year, which you and Joe do so well.

    Look forward to the next addition in your diary of experience sharing.

  2. Angie Quantrell says:

    So much goodness! Love the candy corn cookies and the travels and the food (and especially the guys cooking meals for you!). Happy fall!

  3. Your trip with friends, the pumpkins, and those cookies! Let Fall begin! Our temps have dropped by almost 30 degrees and I love it….let the fun begin!

  4. Kimberly L Young says:

    Susan,
    Doesn’t everyone want to be in New England in the Fall? And what did you do? You took us right with you for all the Fall-ie stuff, from Apples,doughnuts, and pumpkins to historical buildings, exhibits and antique hunting. Not to mention yummy romantical meals here and there with your sweet kindred spirt friends from across the pond. Pure love and generosity! We are still, as of this week, rocking the 80 degree and up temps here in Western NC :(. Looks like some relief this weekend. I’m chomping at the bit for a cool rainy weekend to bake and make the nest a bit more autumnal. Fingers crossed.
    Love you Susan!

    • sbranch says:

      We’ll give you hope, suddenly in the 50s and very cool today… hope it spreads outward to everyone. Been crazy in the south this week!

  5. Pat R. says:

    Thank you for sharing another adventure. Hope your wrist is getting better with the therapy. I loved your musica it was perfect. I collect quotes and I hope you don’t mind that I put a couple from your blog into my notebook. Thanks again for such an uplifting read.

  6. Ann Michael says:

    Your Autumn blog made me feel so happy!
    Thanks for the little quote on Sense of Beauty.
    Thanks for bringing a smile to my morning.
    P.S. I just received my box of Susan Branch notecards, as well as the little book with photo sleeves, and am delighted with them.

  7. Maria Penner says:

    Dear Susan… I love your blog and sharee with so many friends…do you have a
    PO box where I can send the photo of you and Paul, Ray and Joe on a trail. I
    was able to waterlogue it (make it into a watercolor and it is beautiful!)
    I made a couple of prints so you could share with them…it’s truly lovely . Just let me know where I can send and it will be done…What great friends and such a special time together.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, please send it to me at PO Box 2463 Vineyard Haven MA 02568 and THANK YOU!! I can’t wait to see it! XOXO

  8. Anne Weadon says:

    I often pass through both Hudson and Rhinebeck en route to my father’s house upstate. Maybe I should get off the train next time!

  9. Jill says:

    I simply love your blog posts. Thank you for being so you and bringing all of us glimpses of the beautiful fun you see.

    I am going to make these cookies with my children this week. We need more memory moments and less checking the list to move to the next thing that we now can’t remember.

  10. Debra Holden says:

    Hello Susan
    Any news about a launch date for “Enchanted” ? Eagerly anticipating its debut! Much autumnal joy to you.
    Debbi H.

  11. Nicoline says:

    Hello Susan,
    I’m so sorry that I’m only now posting a comment, but we just came home from a holiday. When you posted this, Gabri and I were…..3 guesses…?? In England, and this time in South Devon. We had lots of rain, so couldn’t take as many walks as we’d hoped, but still enjoyed the gorgeous countryside, high cliffs at the seaside, LOTS of picture postcard thatched cottages, tea and cake, DOWNTON ABBEY at the local cinema, cream tea, yummy pub food….
    How do you do it I wonder?? Your lovely post has made me feel homesick for New England, and we’ve never been to the area where you were…Your trip sounds just wonderful, and spending that time with dear friends, well, life just doesn’t get much better does it!
    Well, I don’t know what to say (concerning the Chinese version) …..THANK YOU to the both of you, Rachel too of course, just is not enough!!!! I know how much our friend enjoyed reading it, and it will make their day, when they are able to have their own copy!
    Thank you darling, you are just a STAR!!!!
    Lots of xxxx and ooooo from Holland
    Nicoline

    • sbranch says:

      Oh, I knew you had to be somewhere! Happy to hear from you. I love it you love England as much as me! Book is still on my kitchen table, but going today or tomorrow, as you know, stuff happens! Take good care of your luv-lee little family. xoxoxoxo

  12. Geri says:

    I so wish we had a real autumn in San Diego – yes, some leaves are falling, but outside it’s still in the 70’s and low 80’s. So reading about your trip to the Hudson and walks in woods to the ocean made me smile! Thank you for your gift of joy.

    • sbranch says:

      Best place I ever found for “autumn” in California, not sure it will work that far south, was to drive through and past wineries. The grape leaves turn color!

  13. Kari O'Brien says:

    Such beauty and fun in your post! I can imagine walking through the antique stores and discovering the most treasured wares. I can’t wait to make the cookies for my classroom full of 4th grade goblins! They will LOVE them!

  14. Char Jennings says:

    The Red Lion Inn, such a grand old inn, have eaten there many moons ago…love the town. Must visit again, thanks for the reminder.
    Love the little Christmas plate with the tree cookie…did I miss where to buy the plate or is it a peek for something coming?
    Happy Autumn, Susan🍂🍁

    • sbranch says:

      We have that! Just go to “Shopping” icon at top of page and click “Dishes” in column on the left. (There’s a link on the blog post . . .)

  15. Patty Farrin says:

    Hi Susan,
    I loved your post and was recently at The Red Lion Inn and loved it!! I am going to try the cookie recipe and invite the children next door over for a fall tea party!! I saw a posting in an old cook book that reads: Be sorry for people wherever they are, who live in a house with no cookie jar!! Happy Fall and we can hardly wait for your Thanksgiving and Christmas postings!

  16. Diana Phillips says:

    Your fall letter was the breath of fresh fall crisp air I really needed. The opening “Ashwokan Farewell” reduced me to tears, but the kind that are such a welcome release. Each and everything you share warms the heart and feels like the best back rub you can get! Loved your escape to the Hudson River Valley. It brought back memories of our enchanting September visit there years ago. Thanks for sharing it with us. Now I’m going to crack open your book “Autumn” and celebrate the season!

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