Thursday, September 22, 2016

Autumn 2016 Starts Thursday Morning, September 22

Happy Autumn! September 22, 2016

A preview of autumn color in October

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, Autumn greets us (or we greet Autumn) tomorrow, September 22, 2016, at 9:21 a.m. Central Daylight Time.  That's 10:21 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 7:21 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time, and 14:21 UTC (Universal Coordinated Time).  

September has been warmer and more humid than normal, but we've had a few night when the temperatures get down into the 60's.  So I'm looking forward to Fall with beautiful bright days and cool nights!    

Just in case you can't quite remember the science of the Autumnal Equinox, which is the time when the sun appears to cross the equator and the days and night are of equal length, here's a primer from Wikipedia:

The September equinox (or Southward equinox) is the moment when the sun appears to cross the celestial equator, heading southward. Due to differences between the calendar year and the tropical year, the September equinox can occur at any time from the 21st to the 24th day of September. 
At the equinox, the sun rises directly in the east and sets directly in the west. Before the Southward equinox, the sun rises and sets more and more to the north, and afterwards, it rises and sets more and more to the south. In the Northern Hemisphere the September equinox is known as the autumnal equinox. In the Southern Hemisphere it is known as the vernal or spring equinox.

And just in case you forgot that the tilt of the Earth is responsible for the seasons, here's a good link that explains that whole thing.

So.. what do we have to look forward to this Autumn?  I'm copying my Autumn primer from an earlier post, as Autumn is always my favorite season.


To me, September has always meant the start of school even though most kids start school before Labor Day in the US now.  I guess I'm a traditionalist at heart.  Tomatoes and zinnias are bountiful in early September, and it's time to get the last barbecue of summer fired up.  In our family, we celebrate many September birthdays.

Labor Day is late this year, 2016, on Monday, September 5th!  By the end of the month, the nights are cooler, and the leaves are starting to change colors.  Chrysanthemums and asters (Michaelmas daisies) are in bloom, and we celebrate a few more family birthdays.  Farmer's Markets are overflowing.  And another football season begins.


October is full of beauty, golden and red colors, gourds, squashes, especially pumpkins, haystacks and hayrides, and the last apples straight from the orchards.  In our family, another birthday or two.. and, this year, a big wedding!

Then we move on to witches, ghosts, goblins and Halloween.. and the end of Daylight Savings Time as we plunge into those longer, dark nights.  Halloween is on a Monday this year.. Not a great day for Halloween, but that's just the way it is.  Daylight Savings Time ends early Sunday morning, November 6th, 2016.  "Fall behind" and enjoy that extra hour of sleep!


November brings Thanksgiving in the United States (November 24 this year, 2016) and the start of the Christmas holiday season.  As a kid, November always seemed just cold and grey, but now that I'm older, I really appreciate the peaceful quality of November.  The gardening is done; the craziness of the Christmas season hasn't yet started, and those empty branches against the deep blue of an early sunset are always stunning.  Then we usually have a few magical sparkling snowflakes sometime in November.

Apple Cobbler, Soups, Stews, and Meatloaf

I absolutely refuse to turn on the oven when the air conditioning is running, so Autumn means a return to baking, casseroles, breads, soups and stews.  I always promise myself that I will try more new recipes than I actually do, but I'm definitely going to make that wonderful apple cobbler with home-whipped whipped cream that I made almost every year when my son was little.. if I can find the recipe.  And there will definitely be meatloaves and lasagna.  Definitely! 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Fettucine with Beef and Peppers.. and Cream!

Pasta and Beef..

It's that almost-Autumn let's-cook-pasta time of year.  (I tend not to have a taste for pasta in the summer, with the exception of a cold pasta salad.)

So here's a comfort food pasta dish that will be perfect for the first cool evening when you have a hankerin' to cook up pasta:  Fettucine with beef and peppers.. in a creamy sauce!  

Found at

I bet this recipe would also be delicious with Italian sausage in place of the ground beef.  And perhaps cheese, heavy cream (instead of half-and-half), or sour cream.  Seems like a pretty basic and simple beef-and-pasta dish.

Adventures in fettucine?  How could that be?  I actually cooked this dish... See below for an account of my adventures in cooking fettucine with beef and peppers.


  • Fettucine, either one 9 oz. package of refrigerated fettucine, or 8 oz. (half a pound) of a box of dry fettucine. 
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into thin bite-sized strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into thin bite-sized strips
  • 1 small onion or half large onion, sliced into thin strips about 1 inch long
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1/3 cup purchased pesto (or 1/3 cup of simple homemade pesto)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper 
  • Cook fettucine to desired doneness as directed on package. Drain; cover to keep warm. 
  • Brown ground beef in large skillet over medium-high heat until thoroughly cooked, stirring frequently. Drain. (You can start the beef while the fettucine is cooking.)
  • Add bell peppers (and onions or garlic if you choose to do so); cook and stir 4 to 6 minutes or until peppers and onions are crisp-tender.
  • Add half-and-half, pesto, salt, pepper and cooked fettuccine.
  • Reduce heat to medium; cook and stir 3 to 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring occasionally.
My experience:

I started this recipe with a calamity. My big pasta-cooking pot is stored on a high shelf in the corner of the kitchen. I tried, in my usual manner, to get the pot off the shelf with the broom. I just insert the broom handle through the pot handle, give the pot a tug to get it off the shelf, and it slides down the broom smoothly into my waiting arms. I've done this many times without incident.

Alas, this time it didn't work. The glass-topped lid was atop the pot, and while the big pot effortlessly slid down the broom handle, the glass-topped lid did not make the trip as elegantly and landed, broken into a thousand pieces, on my kitchen floor. So now my big pasta pot has no lid. And I had to sweep up and vacuum all of the glass smithereens.


But onto the real adventure, which is cooking this dish, and let's hope the calamities are over.

I am happy to report that the actual cooking of this dish went very well, unlike my effort to get that pot down from a top shelf.  I do have pictures somewhere of my version of this dish, which I will post when I find them.  It was very good, though I added parmesan cheese.. a lot of parmesan cheese... and I think I will use heavy cream (vs. half and half) when I make it again; which will be very soon..when it gets cool.

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