Monthly Archives: September 2013

Falling for Apples & Pumpkins

September + Cool Temps + Family = Apple Picking Excursion

When the family is all together we’ve got to pack as much fun and together-time in as we can, so….even though there was some grumbling about the early hour, we managed to be first in line for apple picking at R & A Orchards in Ellijay.

The trees were laden:


And we were laden too!  The orchards are rolling and gorgeous and in no time we picked four pecks of Mutsu, Red Rome Beauty, Stayman Winesap, Red Delicious and Golden Delicious.  Of course we ate our share of each variety – at least one of each kind.  Apple bloat-us.

We forgot to pick up anything from the obligatory farm store, so down the road we popped into the B. J. Reece Apple House for some hot fried apple pies, apple slushies and muscadine slushies.  Overkill?  Yes.  Necessary?  Yes.

We thought we’d hike it all off at Amicalola Falls Park but the traffic just to get inside was insane.  Not sure about you, but I’m not a fan of crowded hiking, so we shelved that plan for another weekend and much to my middle son’s dismay (Sunday afternoon football), we headed to Burt’s Pumpkin Farm.

A twenty year tradition in our family, Burt’s is fun but it fills up fast.  And it’s not a quick visit.  And it was crowded.  But we bypassed the hayrides, skipped the sweets, and focused on choosing pumpkins.  They have A LOT to choose from (and you can’t even see the interesting varieties).


We chose well and headed home, weary and stuffed and satisfied.  Can you guess what I cooked up for dinner?


What you can see (clockwise top to bottom):

  • cinnamon stick
  • brussels sprout leaves & stem ends
  • 5 red raspberry herbal tea bags
  • carrot peels
  • lemon half
  • butternut squash peel & stem end
  • sweet pepper tops & ribs
  • stem end of fennel bulb
  • kale tough stems

What you can’t see:

  • Lots of russet potato peels

What I made with all of that:

Lots of roasted veggies including a carrot & fennel combo, mashed potatoes, and roasted butternut squash on cider sauteed kale with bacon.  Yum.  It was so good I took a photo.


Can you see why?  The perfect end to a perfect day.  Make your fall perfect too!


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Fajita Bucket

My family LOVES any meat or veggie stuffed into a tortilla, so when my grad school boy surprised my middle boy for his birthday, we knew that more Mexican would be on the menu.  Specifically Skirt Steak Fajitas from The New Basics Cookbook, a kitchen tome that is literally falling apart from so much use over the years.  Here is the bucket:


What you can see (clockwise top to bottom):

  • onion ends & skin (for quickly sauteed/charred onions)
  • iceberg lettuce bits (not a fan but some of us like the crunch)
  • lots of limes (for marinating the meat – overnight with garlic, cilantro, chilies & olive oil)
  • garlic paper
  • jalapeno ribs & top

What you can’t see:

  • cilantro stems
  • eggshells from breakfast
  • avocado skins (for guacamole)

What else you can’t see:

  • All the love and happiness that went into that meal since ALL three kids were back under one roof!
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Posted by on September 28, 2013 in The Daily Bucket


18th Birthday Bucket

My middle boy turned eighteen a week ago (woohoo!  senior year!).  Instead of a big bash, he had a handful of friends over for one of his favorite meals, Buffalo Chicken Tacos.    Not much of that meal ends of in compost, but here’s what the bucket looked like (clockwise top to bottom):


  • Romaine lettuce core
  • Vidalia onion ends & skins (several on bottom of bucket too)
  • carrot peels
  • rose leaf & pink petals
  • banana peel (morning smoothie)
  • garlic paper
  • apple core

No yummy taco meal would be complete in our house without watermelon.  Here’s the bucket of rind:


And one more birthday photo …


That boy sure loves his Krispy Kremes!  He had the option of any cake he could dream up (that I would bake). When mom’s a baker, but sometimes store bought has more appeal.  Happy Birthday G!

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Posted by on September 27, 2013 in The Daily Bucket


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It’s Raining, It’s Pouring

This is the kind of day it was:


Lily wanted to walk, but I preferred to stay warm and snug inside.  It was so dark all day that after a cup or two of tea and a more than a few pages of my book, even I was restless.    What to do?  Normally, rain equals baking in my book, but I was feeling more soup-y.  See if you can guess what I made from this bucket:


You can tell how rainy it was from where I photographed my bucket: on the chaise underneath the umbrella.  Anyway, what you can see (clockwise from the top):

  • the tough end & outer leaves of two leeks
  • half of a lemon
  • scrapings from four carrots
  • a moldy raspberry
  • eggshells
  • garlic paper
  • peels from four potatoes
  • espresso grounds

What you can’t see:

  • skins from two onions
  • apple core
  • pear core
  • more eggshells
  • two banana peels
  • peel from two cucumbers
  • stems from fresh marjoram
  • two Tazo “Focus” teabags (my current fave)

What I made with all of that:

  • Potato Leek Soup
  • Lemony Italian Meatball Soup
  • Nutella Pumpkin Pound Cake
  • Hammy Cheesy Scrambled Eggs
  • Smoothie with Banana, Pear, Strawberries & Spinach
  • Pot of espresso turned into my version of Pumpkin Spice Lattes

Happy rainy days to all!

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Posted by on September 26, 2013 in The Daily Bucket


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Mint: Marvelous or Monstrous?

As an experienced gardener I knew better.

That was how I justified my reckless planting.  Not one, but TWO pots of spearmint.  In. The. GROUND.  Free to spread its sneaky tendrils without a care.  No boundaries to contain its exuberant growth.  Able to smother all but the hardiest of herbal companions.

But no more.  After three years of looking the other way while the mint crept in and claimed the thyme, the basil, the marjoram, the sage, the lemon balm, and even the parsley and cilantro, I decided its time was up.  This week I ruthlessly ripped out every visible sprig of spring smelling sweetness.


Of course that means nothing.  Come March there will be little minty volunteers popping up all over.  And I vow to promptly pull them up and … put them in a pot.  For their own good.

Because mint, unattended, might be monstrous.  But happily contained in a garden pot, it’s mostly marvelous.  And no garden should be without it.  Especially mine.

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Posted by on September 25, 2013 in Gardening, Musings


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No Place Like Home

The scent of burgers wafted on the air all afternoon.  Hot dogs sizzled on the grills and drinks were a mere $4 a bottle, $5.50 if you wanted a souvenir cup with ice.  We were enjoying a gorgeous family afternoon at the 2014 FedEx Cup at East Lake Golf Club from a shady spot on the twelfth fairway and it was a perfect day.  But after five hours on the course (and one meal already grabbed on the run), we opted for better burgers and fries. We headed to the home grill.

What you can see (clockwise from top)

  • sweet potato skins
  • banana peels

sweet potato fries 9.22.13

What you can’t see:

  • celery trimmings
  • carrot peels from two pounds
  • l2 onion skins
  • garlic papers
  • peel from six gala apples

What I made with all of that:

  • Grass-fed Burgers with Mushrooms, Sauteed Onions & Aged Cheddar
  • Baked Sweet Potato Fries
  • Chicken Pot Pie with Homemade Crust
  • Our usual morning smoothies …
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Posted by on September 22, 2013 in The Daily Bucket


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September Salad Days

There’s a cool breeze in the morning here in the ATL, but it’s not soup weather quite yet.  We are still firmly in eighty degree salad days…


What you can see (clockwise from top to bottom):

  • core of Iceberg lettuce
  • russet potato skin (baked)
  • 4 hibiscus tea bags
  • eggshell
  • red plum, well past its prime
  • onion skins
  • sprig of cilantro
  • shallot ends & skins
  • core of romaine lettuce
  • banana peel
  • squishy, moldy shallot (hate when I bring one of those home!)
  • grape stem

What you can’t see:

  • avocado skins
  • tomato core & tops
  • kale stems
  • more lettuce leaves

What I made with all of that:

Two days worth of big salads (including a version of this favorite) and baked potatoes and pitchers of iced tea!


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