Fall Food

comments: 112




















Aw, yeah: I cooked and baked and brewed. Buttermilk oatmeal bread, hearty mushroom and sausage pasta sauce, pumpkin spice pancakes, and homemade chai. All of it was very good! (The raviolis, by the way, were these, and they were AWESOME awesome awesome — I am really weird and picky about my ravioli because we do not have the same brand here that my mom used to buy when we lived in Chicago [she says it was Mama Celeste? does that brand still exist in the Midwest, or beyond?], and these are the closest I've ever tasted to those, my childhood favorite food, so I'm rather joyful now, because I just love ravioli, and you know how there are some things that you just want to taste a very certain way?).

(Speaking of, calling all Chicagoans now living in Portland: RUN to Bridge City Pizza in Woodstock [or just past Woodstock — or maybe it's still Woodstock there]. Oh. My gosh. You will completely freak out. The guy [nicest guy ever] who owns this place is an actual south-sider and he actually makes Chicago pizza the way Chicagoans think of pizza. And cuts it in sqaures. And puts it in the big white bag with the staples at the end that is transparent with cheese grease by the time you get home. You guys, this is the pizza. This is not the stuffed pizza. This is not the thick-crust pizza. This is the heavy, cheese-and-sausage, white-bag pizza. And you know what I'm talking about. Tell him the girl from River Forest [me] and the guy from Elmhurst [Andy Paulson] sent you. [And if any of you are from River Forest and you grew up eating River Pizza, you may start almost-sobbing like I did.] It really, really tastes like home. Andy actually called the pizza place back after we got home with our pizza the first time we tried it and he said, "This actually changes the whole city of Portland for us," and I was just standing in the background chewing and nodding vigorously with tears streaming down my face, unable to speak.)

I'm kidding. But he did call and say that. And I think his voice had a little quaver in it.

Mimi and I walked up to the get the chai ingredients yesterday in the rain. It's been raining for a couple of days, though it is still warmish, which is just delighting me. In the effort to get the mud room space ready for the pantry (which arrives tomorrow), I've been thinking about what's going in the pantry, and thinking about how to reorganize all of our kitchen storage space in general. I started to get a little excited about cooking again. It's really been a while. It's hard to admit this, but summer food just doesn't appeal to me that much, cooking-wise. This past year I really haven't cooked that much because of the baby, but now that she's older and much more willing to hang out with me in the kitchen for longer stretches, and now that it isn't four thousand degrees in the kitchen and we can use the oven again, and now that it's pouring rain and there really isn't anything calling us outside ('bye river, 'bye park, 'bye woods) for days at a time, I guess I finally hear the call of the Dutch oven. Of the slow-simmering sauce. Of the bread that takes hours to rise. Of the chopped onions, the butternut squash, the apple pies, of the long, lazy, candlelit mornings, of the bubbling Irish oatmeal I so love, of the spicy chili, or the black bean soup. Yeah. I like fall cooking a lot. I'm pretty excited about it again, especially because every day Amelia is trying new foods, and this girl loves to eat!!!

Anyway, that pasta sauce above was really nice, especially, I thought, because of the green pepper. A little sweet, but I like it sweet. The pumpkin pancakes, well, yum; we've made those many times and I think they are my absolute favorite pancakes. That's just a good recipe. (And I do have one of those beautiful crepe pans [mine's from the Mirador] that makes making pancakes pure pleasure.) The bread was good and dense and salty. The chai was a little too delicate and a little too rich; next time I will make it stronger by cutting the milk to only one cup (instead of four) and adding one more cup of water, and keeping everything else the same.The flavor was just what I was looking for, but I want a bit more intensity, on a cold, rainy, glistening, beautiful, cozy little old September afternoon.


yes yes and yes to all you said. i'm a fall girl from the start. and i pulled out the old red dutch oven on saturday and made a stewy-soup! must make that bread as it looks yummy! and speaking of yummy, that muff just keeps getting cuter and cuter! yay for fall!!

Alicia, I didn't know if I'd ever say this because I really enjoy the sunshine, but you make me long for a nice rainy day. Oh, I like the occasional slow rainy day where you can just spend time indoors, but I mostly prefer waking up to the sunshine coming in my windows. But you make it all, along with your food, so delightful. Mimi is just absolutely precious and I can't wait to receive your posts. They are always, always so inspiring. You have a gift!!!

You say it all, just the way I want to but cant put ( or dont take the time) my thoughts into words. Loved the "bye tree etc". Thank you.

Words can't express how much I adore reading your blog. I also fail to be inspired by summer cooking. Once I've made sweet tea, caprese, and my fruit cream pie, I'm done and ready for those warm comforting flavors of fall. You are right, there is just something about having a meal simmering in the Dutch oven all day that says "home."

Ok I have a really important question for you.... we live about 3 hours south of Chicago and want to start taking day trips into the city. Do you have any recommendations for a family with two teenage boys? Who just might to shop? Who LOVE pizza?!? We've lived all over and each time we move I end up with regrets... that we didn't visit more of the surrounding area. In 3 years time we, as a family, have been to Chicago... ONCE! I really, really want to go back... and so do the guys. We went to the Navy Pier... it was ok but we had more fun driving around, looking at the buildings.. walking around, looking at the buildings...

I am sad to say Mama Celeste is now just Celeste and all they make is pizza... :-( It was the ravioli of my childhood as well and I miss it dearly! This sauce sounds delicious as do the pancakes!! And I have the chai steeping as I write... with the changes you suggested! upon first sip, well I think this is going to be a keeper!

And Miss Mimi... is is so precious! Such a sweet child!

Amelia is growing up so fast. The pictures are so cute. She has the prettiest little mouth...it looks like a little heart. Is she walking yet? Martha

Amelia's changing so fast! You can really see a difference, she looks so grown up.
I'm totally with you on fall cooking; I LOVE the cooler weather and the (IMHO) better food available. Yum!

ravioli - ahhh. We have an authentic Italian deli here (they close up in August and flee to Italy) where the ravioli is handmade ... so delectable. I'll have to try your sauce.

You are making a world of culinary memories for your Mimi. She is so lucky.

I have been such a lazy cook this summer. (As in, popcorn or cereal for dinner sort of lazy.) Thanks for sharing all the yummy recipes. I am excited to settle down to some fall cooking now myself!

Oh goodness, she is such a little doll! Her chubby cheeks and rosebud mouth kill me every time you post pictures.

All those recipes are making me so hungry! I can't get excited about summer cooking, either. Hopefully we'll have some nice rainy days soon where I can stay inside and cook spaghetti sauce and chai, too.

Can I just say that I am so happy that you blog?! I so appreciate the inspiration, the food, the crafts, the knitting, the pics, the words! And, goodness, but those sweet, sweet pics of Amelia! Thank you for sharing your days with us. I lived in Chicago for a couple of years and couldn't get enough of Giordano's Spinach Stuffed Pizza, but I never had white paper bag pizza. I must now find a high altitude recipe for pumpkin pancakes! Yay for autumn!!!

Love this post… fall, chai tea and as a Chicagoan, Chi town pizza… oh yes! Great pictures. Thank you for sharing. Now I must have pizza for dinner.

The clothes that little girl wears makes me want to have an other child, I also want to sew cute little pants and sweaters, and knit tiny pants. I just love it all.

Laura from beautiful West Michigan says: September 24, 2013 at 11:24 AM

Pizza in Portland, oh my! I so related to your post today because I too, am from Elmhurst, and I too, longed for Chicago pizza anywhere other than Chicago! I live in Michigan now and it's sad. Next time I visit my daughter in Portland, we'll have to try it! Go Dukes, Andy! (Did you go to York High School?)

somehow I've never thought of September afternoons as little or old, but I really like that phrase, "little old September afternoon" and now I'll be thinking about it all day! =)

We visited my in-laws, who live in the mountains near Stevens' Pass, this weekend and hauled home BAGS of produce from their gardens. I've been cooking up a storm, processing it into apple pies and apple sauce and creamed corn and tomato sauce... two of those four things got canned by the quart ("by the QUART!" she exclaims! That's a lot for just two people!) and I couldn't be more pleased. Hurray for autumn! =)

I think I'd love to eat, too, if I lived with you. In fact, you *might* inspire me to find a love for cooking. I do it solely out of necessity... but you make it look and sound so very lovely and inviting. Maybe a project for this winter?

Thanks for sharing such beauty.

Just lovely pictures!

Try this on those pancakes:

Apple Cider Syrup

1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 cups fresh apple cider
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup butter

In a small sauce pan mix sugar, cornstarch, and spice; stir in cider and lemon juice; cook until thickened; remove from heat; add butter and stir until melted; serve warm. Delicious on pancakes or waffles, or with chopped walnuts over vanilla ice cream!

Linda Rattie says: September 24, 2013 at 12:42 PM

Love, Love, Love all your pictures. Tks for sharing. Your daughter is ADORABLE!! Your knitting is perfect. I am so jealous :-) Can't wait to see the sweater on Mimi.

Beautiful photos and beautiful words. You continue to weave a little magic into your blog Alicia. It is such an evocative place to visit. Love the picture of Mimi with her head on one side. I put my head on one side too to look at it. So very sweet. Your pizza comments made me laugh. But also made me want to eat that pizza. Nothing like that around here unfortunately. Wonder how it's made.

Hi Alicia.

I read your blog all the time and have done for the last couple of years but rarely comment. I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your words and images and creativity. I should comment more! The Maggie doll I ordered came a few days ago and I'm so excited to start making it for my daughter for her 7th birthday.

Thanks for writing such a fab blog.

Gillian xx

jenn nahrstadt says: September 24, 2013 at 02:08 PM

okay, that picture of her leaning over and looking at you from the high chair is ADORABLE!!! she is SUCH a cutie!

i like fall cooking better than summer too--can you say roasted butternut squash?!

chicago pizza. sigh. there's nothing like it. anywhere. so happy for you!

There is absolutely nothing like home made bread rising in a pan. I can almost smell it. Sounds like you are into Fall! That little one is precious!!


My beautiful, vibrant mom, passed away unexpectedly two weeks ago. I have five wonderful sisters that are helping me get through this. The oldest seems to have become very petty about material things over the past couple of days. I was talking to my mom's longtime friend, whom is a very sweet lady, she is also my godmother. She asked if she might have an evening bag that belonged to mom. She said she had always thought it was so pretty and it would remind her of getting dressed up and going out to have fun with my mom. I told her I would look for it and she could have it. Well, my older sister said, no that one of us girls should have that bag. My mom had something like thirty bags. I can't believe how petty my sister is being. I don't want anything anymore, except a keepsake to remind me of mom. The reason why I am telling you all this, is because, after that, I kept my fingers crossed that you would have a new post with pretty pictures and words that would warm my heart. And you didn't disappoint! Thank you so much for that.

Mary K. in Rockport says: September 24, 2013 at 04:27 PM

She looks very cute in green.

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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 aliciapaulson.com




Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.