Friday, September 6, 2013

Finally Fall! ZOMG!

It's September, which in my mind automatically equals Autumn.  Some naysayers will try to tell you that it's not until the 24th or somesuch, but they are deceived.  Fall officially starts whenever your coffee shop has Pumpkin Spice lattes.  My coffee shop never got rid of them, so maybe that's why I was all making turkeys in July and ish.

However there was a giant sign outside opting that the afore mentioned lattes are 10% off (and honestly, who can resist that?) so I'm counting it.  Officially Fall.  Boom.  Joni approved.

Last year, me, Hubs, and our little Boo-tterball (see what I did there?) discovered that there are 3 massive pecan trees on the town owned property that backs up to our house.  They don't collect the nuts, instead leaving the town people to bicker over them.  This was the day we went out to pick some.  Boo was so excited, but with weather in the 60's and free pecans, who can blame him?

Side note, did you KNOW how expensive pecans are?  Or any nuts?  Geez!  I've seen them as much as nine dollars a pound.  We cracked enough last Fall to make it through the Winter, Spring, and most of Summer.

Fun facts.
  • According to wikipedia, 'pecan' is an Algonquin word, referencing how one needs a stone to crack the shell.  
  • Wikipedia also says that the tree is native to Iowa, Kansas, Texas, Tennessee, and other middle states (as I call them).  Here I was thinking this was a true blue Suuh-thern thang.  
  • Well it may not be native to NC, but we do produce 5-6 million pounds of pecans a year.  
If you're in a state that doesn't produce them, I do apologize.  I'm sure that you have growing capabilities for some other luscious fruit or veggie that you can hang over my head.  Like limes (I do love a good marg) or...  I dunno, we can grow a lot of stuff in NC.  I don't mean to brag.  But maybe you should come for a visit?  We've got the Outer Banks, and some pretty sweet mountains.  Grab you some pecans while you're here...  

Official Fall is also Jumbo approved.

So here's some stuff to do in Fall.
  • Check out a vineyard.  Winery tours can be found all over the place.  I mean, I'm in BFE North Carolina and there's still one within an hours travel.  There'll usually be an inexpensive tasting charge (I went to one in Northern VA this weekend and it was $5 to taste their four wines) which they might even waive if you buy a bottle to take home.  Most places have a pretty awesome view too.  
  • Take the tots to a pumpkin patch.  First of all, you can score some pumpkins for seed toasting and pumpkin butter making.  I haven't had pumpkin butter before, but I am really eager to try it this year.  Also you can probably get some really cute/scenic pictures of the kids, or you and the hubs, or you and your dog.  Or whatevs.  Also, have you even SEEN the adorable pumpkin crafting ideas on Pinterest?  So cute, so easy.
  • Make a leaf maze.  This is a great way to get the kids to help with raking.  My parents did this to me and I was totally unawares.  We would help make a "track" made of leaf piles, and we'd ride the go cart or our bikes through our maze.  Sound boring?  It kept us amused for HOURS.  And then our mom would sneakily go behind us and load up the leaf borders in the wheelbarrow.  Buzzkill.
  • Pick some apples!  Apparently U-Pick apple orchards are a prominent thing now.  Go look.  Then make some apple pie or caramel apples.  Or just eat them.  With peanut butter.  C'mon, it can't be too healthy...
  • Go pecan picking.  See above
  • Tour a brewery.  Okay so this is a cop out, in that it clearly does not have to be Fall for you to go to a brewery.  But chances are that there will have a nice patio/balcony type area to hang out at.  And why not do it on a beautiful Fall day?
  • Go to the beach.  Huh what?  Yeah, you heard me.  After baking in the hot sun all summer, the water will typically still be warm enough to take a dunk in (and I dunno if all weather is as ridiculous as ours, but there's still likely to be a 90 degree day or two in October around here).  Except there will be about 75% less people there.  And even if it's too chilly for a swim, a comfortable walk down the beach can relax you more than you might realize.
  • Go to the mountains.  We take a trip every year in the fall to Asheville.  The leaves changing colors is breath taking.  Also it's ideal weather to do some zip lines and hiking.
  • Prep for Thanksgiving.  I start making my ingredient list and slowly stock up on the things that are non perishable now.  Also if you're still a noob at Thanksgiving, make a list of possible side dishes to make and try one a week to see what you (and everyone else) likes.
  • Bake some crap.  The kitchen is finally cool enough to turn the oven on again.  Make spice cake.  And spice cupcakes.  And pecan pie.  And pumpkin cookies.  (My aunt used to make baller pumpkin cookies.  I'll have to see if it would be considered sacrilege to post the recipe.)  Or make the kids bake you some crap.  Or the hubs.  Or your dog.
  • Or go to the bakery for some crap.  Like spice cake.  And spice cupcakes.  And pecan pie.  Why does this seem familiar?
  • Plan a Halloween party.  A few years ago our friend planned a Relay for Life party.  It was BYOB, but they had people donate things to raffle off, and charged a fee at the door of $5 or whatever you wanted to donate.  Since all of the proceeds went to Relay for Life, many people offered their services and volunteered, so the party didn't cost much out of pocket.  And it gave the rest of us a great excuse to dress up and get down!  (I was cookie monster and Hubs was my cookie.  We had not been dating for long, so I could still convince him to do things like that)  :)
  • Check out local activities.  There's lots of fun outdoorsy things to do this time of year for kids and adults.  County fairs, Festivals (i.e. we have multiple Peanut Festivals nearby), and promotions love to schedule their events during the beautiful weather.  If you're in the NE NC or Hampton Roads area, Festevents is a great website for tracking fun things.  But otherwise just Google "local events" and your area, and you should be able to find something.
  • Go on a hayride.  Or if you're feeling really ballsy...
  • Go on a haunted hayride.  I am such a wuss.  There's a gigantic corn maze & haunted hayride next to Hubs' parents' house and we took friends last year.  I ended up on the floor of the cart.  Not my proudest moment.  But it's an adrenaline rush, and a good reminder of the things I love about my life.  You know, as they involuntarily flashed before my eyes...
  • Months with an 'R'...  Oyster season baby!  Go nom you some shellfish, with a little melted butter, some cocktail sauce, and a saltine cracker.  Got a lot of friends who dig 'em?  Have an oyster roast.  I used to work at an oyster bar and we would have people come buy them by the bag for parties.  Make some grilled chicken and lots of finger foods for people who don't eat shellfish.
Well that's all I've got.  
         But tell me, what do YOU love doing this time of year?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Sushi Fake Out

So I'm horribly obsessed with sushi.  My sister introduced me to it when I was a junior or senior in high school.  She introduced me to it, I should include, by shoving a piece of octopus (suckers and all) into my mouth when I wasn't paying attention.  Such love.

Anyway I live in BFE North Carolina and the closest sushi restaurant is a little over an hour away.  I deeply deeply yearn for sushi in my life constantly, so I have been looking for ways to get my fix.  After I accidentally bought 3 pounds of smoked salmon the other week, I was desperately looking for ways to use it up.

Did you know it's possible to accidentally buy this much salmon?  It is.

Btw, I had never had smoked salmon before.  I ate a good third of the package.

Hubs liked the taste, but the texture was a little off for him.  I took to the internet to see if you can cook smoked salmon, but the results were dubious.  I made teriyaki salmon rolls with spicy mayo and it was the easiest thing everrrrrrrrrrr

I marinated the salmon pieces in teriyaki sauce for about 12 hours.  I rolled up the pieces and stuck a toothpick through to hold, and tossed them on the George Foreman.  They cooked super quickly!

Mix 1/4 C mayo and about 1 tbsp of Sriracha together and drizzle over the salmon rolls.  It's not sushi, but served with a side of white rice, it will at least give you a fix.  Enjoy!