Friday, October 14, 2011

Fall is here, feel the chill

The days have gotten cold, not yet the bone-chilling, chattering-lower-jaw dampness of Washington winters and yet also not quite the 60 degree blustery weather of summertime. And fall here means pumpkins, and oddly shaped squashes that look decorative rather than delicious. It also means that apples are finally back in their fill-the-grocery-stores glory. Honeycrisps and Pink Lady's and Gala apples abound. And then there are the Asian Pears replacing the peaches and the big heads of cauliflower and thick, earthy carrots lining the Farmer's market booths. The trees are in every single color but green, smoky reds and deep oranges and soft yellows that remind me of salt water taffy. And on top of all of it - everyone is wearing scarves and watching their breath fill the air in front of their faces with whispy, smoky trails.

It's officially fall in the Northwest.

And so I have been spending an ungodly amount of time on Foodgawker looking for recipes to inspire me for Thanksgiving. Ben and I are doing our first non-family Thanksgiving this year and I'm already nervous that the turkey will indeed take four more hours than I anticipated and my house won't have enough non-stick pans for making every single dish... but that's all over a month away.

In order to start practicing, I picked up a jar of canned pumpkin puree the other day and set to work on two small loaves of pumpkin bread. So last night, covered in eggs, sugar, and pumpkin, with a glass of merlot in one hand and a horribly inefficient electric hand mixer in the other, I made my first successful pumpkin treat of the year. Besides the understated cooking time (recipe's suggestion: 50-60 minutes, real life: 90-120 minutes), the bread came out moist and dense and perfect for chilly mornings with coffee. I toased it in the toaster this morning and buttered the crisp deep brown bread and it was delicious.

But more about that merlot... I'm fighting that wine rut I mentioned in the last post, with all the income that I've got. I picked up two bottles of recommended wines at Fred Meyer the other day that looked warm and inviting for the cold nights. The first, which I tried the other night, was a 2008 Washington Hills Merlot ($8.99). It was a nice warm merlot, perfect for the weather and perfectly Washington-oriented as it comes out of the Columbia Valley. The wine smelled well-rounded and turned out to be so. Though the bouquet started out light, it developed into a spicier and fuller wine with a hint of oak. The finish had a bit of mineral to it and the wine ended with soft tannins that left a great mouthfeel. The wine felt great to drink.

I'd thoroughly recommend checking out Washington Hills wines, if you live in Washington and want a great local wine that's inexpensive. Washington Hills repeatedly recieves Best Value awards from Wine Spectator and the Wine Advocate. And enjoy the fall! It's a great time to drink great warm red wines and eat savory foods made of those rather decorative squash.


  1. Love this time of year, especially going out to the vineyards to taste wine.

  2. :) I am going out wine tasting this weekend! It is a great time to be surrounded by food and fruit and wine.

  3. Wine tasting time in Woodenville!!! Don't forget about RedHook, this time we will get that free tasting glass.