First Fall Feast (Redux)

comments: 85


Yesterday I got to cook almost all day, and it was great. It didn't seem like a Thursday. I was feeling a lot better, cold-wise, and it has been so nice to have a few days off to relax. I like to relax in the kitchen, especially if there are shallots caramelizing, potatoes bubbling, chicken sizzling.

Last year we made a meal at the beginning of the fall season when we got our LeCreuset Dutch oven. It was such a nice day, last year; it seemed even then that this meal would become a tradition for us. I was very excited to make it for Andy's mom this week. It includes Potato-Fennel Gratin, Brussels Sprouts Lardons, Winter Roasted Vegetables, and Chicken with Morels, all from various Barefoot Contessa cookbooks. I think all the recipes are linked back in the original post, if you're interested.


I also made my favorite Sour Cream Apple Pie, this time with one ginormous apple. This is ONE apple and it was enough for a whole pie. It weighed more than a pound. Andy and his mom bought it at Uncle Paul's Market, the farmstand down the street from our house. It seriously was the size of a small pumpkin. They can't remember the name of the variety but think it started with a "G."


Fall is definitely here. I woke up this morning and was freezing. I cannot get my brain around this, somehow. It feels so sudden, though I know, logically, it's not. I am really going to try and slow down this whole month and regroup the parts and pieces. Things have been going too fast (never the right speed for me).


Somehow, pulling bubbling things out of the oven works wonders. Every night this summer, I would watch my TiVo-ed cooking shows from Ina and Tyler and Nigella, and then my new favorite, New Scandinavian Cooking. I'd think of the time when I'd have time to cook again. New Scandinavian Cooking is insanely relaxing. In it, three different chefs travel Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, meeting locals and cooking beautiful meals, usually outside. And the light. Oh, the light and the scenery. It's exquisite. I watch this show and my blood-pressure sinks like a stone. The music tinkles away, they make pretty breakfasts with flowers and organic eggs, I dream of one day going to Denmark again, and just feel completely blissed out.


Last night, everything came out well and I felt so pleased, tired in the best way. It's really a meal for six, not three. It's like a pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving dinner. And we did give thanks.


The pie was tart. That apple was as tart as it was huge. It was so nice to have a fire again. The puppy has entered a new, destructive phase. I tried to enjoy every minute, knowing how quickly it all changes, how quickly the seasons shuffle by.

Fall, please stay for a while. I'll stop and sit with you. Show me all your precious things. I will stop and sit.


Oh! I so wish it were cold here. I just want to do the backstroke through that gratin!

Another beautiful post. I too am enjoying the thoughts of fall. I associate fall with a crisp, briskness in the air and I haven't experienced much of that yet this year - maybe it is yet to come. Thanks again for the warmth you share. A.

yay - i managed to read this post without crying! - reading about food is safe ground for one so desparate for a pupper of her own :( and the cosy glow of those photos is delicious.

I'm enjoying the new season, too, though it's autumn here in England. Not only is the food comforting, so are the clothes, don't you think? Great blog and lovely photographs, by the way.

I wish it felt like fall in Oak Park/River Forest. It is in the mid-80s today and HUMID. Your meal sounds like it tasted as divine as it looks. Hurry up autumn and come to Oak Park!

Echoing Carol in Oak Park. It is 90 today here and HOT. I SO want it to be cool and crisp. Your dinner and table look lovely, as always.

Your feast looks delicious and you make me long for fall so much! Here in San Francisco it's kind of seasonless. Fall is more like a mild summer (except at night when it's cold here). Hardly any leaves change color and you don't get a sense of that wonderful fall smell in the air like you do in other parts of the country. I hate it! Fall is my favorite time of year and it makes me miss living in the south where fall usually makes a grand entrance, leaving hot steamy summer in the dust.

Beautiful post, Alicia!

Yes, everything moves too fast. We should soak up every minute of every day.


Hi ALicia - you set such a beautiful table. I felt all warm and cozy just looking at all those yummy dishes. Holy moly - that is one huge apple!!!!!

Have a wonderful visit with your MIL!

Diane from Baltimore

ps - send a little fall our way, would you? It's 88 degrees outside here!!!!

Less food! More Clover!!

kidding.....sort of.

I just gained 12 pounds on my butt just by looking at those potatoes....yummmmy!!!!

Indian summer here, maybe 90 on Monday. But your post has given me hope a glorious autumn day will be ours soon, ending with a fall feast. I really loved your closing.

oh wow. that really is one big apple. okay, not big. ginormous? i think that's better. :)

you also could make an excellent apple cobbler with walnut and raisins-- very bubbly, and good leftover-breakfast material. what else? baked apples with cranberry sauce!

i love your fall feasts. i recently had one that was very similar to yours, but in a southern flavor: potato tarragon gratin, sweet potatoes with raisins, collards, and fried cornbread.

i'm sure clover meadow loved all the smells, and is in a destructive phase only b/c she didn't get the same treats you guys did. :)

your blog today is so lovely. . . I've been feeling the same way about fall. . . like I just need to s-l-o-w down and really appreciate it. . .and your meal looks divine!

Mmmmmm...I'm sure it all tasted as wonderful as it looked. I can almost smell it from here. I am so glad you are all together and sharing such memorable times...

Ohhhh how lovely! I absolutely crave autumn and cannot wait for it to come. If only it could last forever. Here in Duluth, Minnesota fall is definitely here and I am loving every minute of it. It makes me want to take out all of my old Martha Stewart Holiday magazines and just dream away. Thank you for showing us your lovely table!

You're not as early on the Thanksgiving as you think. Monday is Thanksgiving up here, north of the 49th (um, that's Canada, in case you don't know)! We're all about the apple and pumpkin pies, the squash and the fall fairs this weekend--not to mention the 25-pound bird, divided up by too many hungry people. Gotta pack the pounds on for the winter, people.

I for one am always happy to have any blog entries--food, puppies, dogs, pretty pix, all good!

Have a lovely weekend!

It all sounds so divine! I have been waking up to a cold room the last few days too and I LOVE it. One thing I really miss about home (Vancouver) is the early fall when the days are cold and sunny. I'm sure my definition of 'cold' has changed over the past 5 years but I still enjoy the feeling of needing to bundle up a little. We get only a precious few of those days here in 'The OC' so I always try to make the most of them :)

That's all real nice; but where are the PUPPY PICTURES?????? (The fire looks nice; still in the 80s here.)

Holy Cow! That is a hugh apple. Your dinner looks wonderful, and I bet it was even better then it looks!! Happy Pre-Thanksgiving!

Ohh..I am soo ready for it to get cold here..Your feast looked wonderful..I love the centerpiece! I think we should all sit and relax a bit more this month..

Hahahahahah! I was going to say something and then realized someone beat me to the punch! But yes, I will say it nevertheless: where is that puppy today!!


If Andy mentions some woman looking oddly at him while he was buying coffee today, that was me. My husband and I were having coffee and this guy walks in with his mother (I know from your blog) and I kept looking at him because he looked so familiar. It took me a while to realize it was Andy. In real life. So, in case he is wondering, I am not some weird staring stalker.


starts with a "G" alright... gigantic!

I can't believe I'm not the only one who watches New Scandinavian Cooking! Dinner looked fabulous!

I love reading your blog. My blood pressure falls when I read your descriptions of fall. You remind me to savor this beautiful time of year and not rush through it to the holidays. The feast is as much one for the spirit as the body.

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at