Fall is my favorite season and inspires me to create more haiku. Autumn brings its magnificent colors and a welcome respite from the summer heat, but more than that, the beauty of a new season, the promise of continued cycles that diminish and replenish, each with their own special purpose. There’s a lovely old standard tune, “Autumn Leaves”, that captures the bittersweet nature of fall and starts like this:
The falling leaves
Drift by my window
The falling leaves
Of red and gold
The rest of the lyrics to this beautiful old tune are included at the end of this post along with a recording by Frank Sinatra, after my three haiku for autumn.
Haiku #1 for Autumn
My favorite aspen
Dons red and gold finery
For nature’s party
Haiku #2 for Autumn
Fall colors call me
Siren song of falling leaves
Haiku #3 for Autumn
Autumn, she beckons
With gorgeous affirmation
Of life’s full cycles
Are you like me – your appetite and interest in hobbies and the world outpaces your capacity to devour them? In my salad days (before parenthood, before Big Corporate Job), I used to read three newspapers every day: the Houston Chronicle, the Houston Post and the Wall Street Journal. I’m dating myself here: the Post was bought by the Chronicle in 1995 and Houston became a one-big-daily town, with some really great weeklies, like the Houston Press.
It was a sad day in Houston when we lost that competition between the daily papers, but I digress.
Getting my news from several print sources along with the radio and TV news I consumed ensured that I got a well-rounded perspective of the world. Local, regional, global – it was all at my fingertips. Biased, perhaps, but overlaying a mosaic of different biases gives you a pretty accurate lens on the truth.
Reminisce with me, if you would. It’s 6:30 a.m. on a weekday in the mid-90’s, and three fat, lovely papers have arrived on the doorstep. The whole world is waiting for me to absorb it. The routine is established: make the coffee, feed the cats, fetch the papers, and get down to business. By 8:00 a.m., I’m feeling like the most educated person in the world and ready to take on the day. (I was a Realtor at the time, and nobody looks at houses until at least 10:00 a.m.) You could count on me for interesting conversation at a dinner party.
Years later, the news finds me only on the iPad via a gaggle of news feeds – if I have time to click them – or on the radio courtesy of NPR’s Morning Edition or All Things Considered during my half-hour commute to my challenging and fun corporate job. I’m no longer the most up-to-date person in the world and my dinner-party conversation will most likely be about this blog, my garden, my job or my fantastic kid (all of which are fascinating to me, you understand).
Except for when I travel – I become the well-informed gal of yesteryear.
Travel holds so much promise – new cultures, customs and cuisine. And the news! I start out with a land-grab of all of the papers in the United Club before the flight. They usually have the local, USA Today, the WSJ and the Financial Times. Rejoice! A 2-hour flight – great! I’ll have time to skim them all. A 4-hour flight – even better! I can read and absorb almost everything, enough for months worth of dinner parties and cocktail conversation.
You won’t find me complaining about business travel. Bring on the dailies!
Las Vegas is a city you can’t quite love but can’t quite hate. It pushes tacky so far that it almost becomes charming. We spent a hot 3 July days there fulfilling a long-time birthday wish of a deserving octogenarian, and I was haiku-inspired.
1 of 3: The City
Proudly tacky, glittering
Crowded, loud, still fun
2 of 3: The Bellagio
Fine cuisine, slot machines
3 of 3: The Birthday Girl
Special party at eighty
Up next: eighty-one
I love to write haiku! If I can’t sleep, I create haiku. If I have to wait in line, I haiku my way through it. If people annoy me (hardly ever happens), I calm myself with haiku. So of course I have to publish them occasionally, even though this is primarily a cooking/gardening/lifestyle-ish blog.
5-7-5 is my natural rhythm.
Did you know that the plural of haiku is…haiku? Here’s a haiku hack about that.
Just one: it’s haiku.
But what’s the case if it’s two?
It’s still just haiku.
Two Haiku from the Medicine Cabinet
I Took an Aspirin
Headache fades ’round the edges
I Took a Natural Sleep Aid
Fanciful, horrible, weird
Happy to wake up
More of my odd writings are available via my Words page.
I’d love to hear your haiku, if you’d care to leave one in the comments. And here’s haiku blog that I really like: The Haiku Diaries.
Does this ever happen to you? You spend all afternoon in the kitchen on a crisp fall day creating a hearty soup or stew that will make your family proclaim you as kitchen royalty while they’re fighting over seconds – and then you realize you don’t have any bread to sop up the wonderful juices of your awesome autumn creation. Sigh.
The answer to the “Oh no, no bread!?” problem is one-hour beer bread.
The texture of this bread is dense and hearty, and it is best right out of the oven. Or toasted – it is GREAT when toasted, or made into garlic bread. This is just my basic recipe for those times when I didn’t quite plan ahead for bread; it is flexible and easy to vary. You can change up the herbs and spices to match your main dish, add cheese, jalapeños, and/or fresh onion and garlic, or experiment with different beers. I like to use a dark beer to accompany hearty dishes, but a light one will work, too. Be sure to choose a beer that you like, because its taste will come through. In other words, if you don’t like hoppy beer and someone left some at a party recently that you want to get rid of, don’t use that beer for this bread.
2 3/4 cups flour (sift it if you want a less dense crumb – I don’t)
1 tbsp. dried minced onion or 1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 12 oz. beer, preferably dark, at room temperature
Note: beer bread recipes often call for self-rising flour, but I usually don’t have it. If you do and prefer to use it, just eliminate the baking soda and salt.
Cooking Instructions (makes about 10 thick slices)
Preheat oven to 350. Prepare a loaf pan with cooking spray. Mix all dry ingredients in a medium bowl, then pour in the olive oil and beer and stir. Transfer the batter to the loaf pan and bake on the middle rack for 50 minutes.
Looking for a soup recipe to accompany your beer bread? Check out the lentil soup pictured above, made on-site at Glover Gardens by European colleagues at a pot-luck party: Pot Luck Perfect: In-the-Moment Lentil Soup . The beer bread can be used for the Norwegian Waiting Bread that is also described in the post.
We love salmon at Glover Gardens. Smoked, baked, grilled – you name it. Occasionally, there are leftovers, which we regard with glee, because that means we can make this salmon spread. We prefer to make it with Tom’s Smoked Salmon, but any smoked or cooked salmon will do.
The deceptively simple recipe yields a rich and sophisticated spread that is fancy enough for company. The bright flavors of the lime juice and zest combine beautifully with the briny, salty capers and smoky earthiness of the salmon.
In addition to being great on crackers, there are lots of other ways to serve this spread:
As a filling for finger sandwiches: spread it thickly on OroWheat Sandwich Thins, add thinly sliced red onion and cut into quarters – easy peasy!
As a stuffing for hollowed-out cherry tomatoes, another quick and elegant appetizer
Smeared on green apple slices
As an omelet filling
Instead of tartar sauce for fried shrimp or oyster po’boys
In fact, it’s so good on so many things that you might just want to make a double batch.
Smoked Salmon Spread
Cooking Time: 15 minutes; Serves 6-8 as an appetizer
There are two versions of this recipe: the spread and the dip. The only difference is the sour cream: if you want a dip, add it, if you want a spread, don’t.
4 ounces or more of wood-smoked salmon (or any smoked or cooked salmon), skinless
1/4 small red onion, roughly chopped
8 oz. of cream cheese (can substitute reduced-fat or Neufatschel)
2 tbsp. + 1 tsp. capers, separated
Zest from 1 lime
Juice of 1/2 lime
6 drops of Tabasco
1/8 tsp. salt
1/3 cup sour cream (optional – only if you want a dip)
1 tbsp. finely chopped tomato and/or red onion (optional, for garnish)
Pulse the salmon in the food processor or blender until it is finely ground, then add the red onion, cream cheese, 2 tbsp. of capers, lime zest, lime juice, Tabasco and salt. Process until almost smooth. If you are making the dip rather than the spread, add the sour cream and process until just mixed.
Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the additional capers and optional tomato and/or red onion. Serve with crackers, baguette slices or pumpernickel toasts.
Note: If you want a chunkier spread and have extra salmon, coarsely chop up to 2 oz. more of it by hand and stir it into the spread after you remove it from the food processor.
If you don’t smoke your own salmon or have leftover grilled or baked, you can buy 4 oz. packages of smoked salmon in the refrigerated section next to the seafood counter at most major grocery stores.