Falling for Greener Pastures

Watching the Neighbor's Sheep Migrate to Greener Pastures

You may have noticed that things have been all sweetness and light around here for the last month or so. My sentimentality is no source of pride, but rather a fact which I come by honestly. My Mom (who, by the way, is about to celebrate one of those big birthdays that end with an 0) is perhaps the most sentimental person I know. She cries at hello, at goodbye, at good news or bad, at parades, while rooting for her favorite team (or whatever team happens to be playing,) while saying grace, when the American flag is flown and certainly any time she hears our National Anthem played. Ever since I was a child, if you need a hanky, just look in Mom's purse. She's always prepared.

Now being a woman of "a certain age", I'd say her sentimentality has served her well.

As a variance from my recent and inherited state of being, I possess not one sentimental bone today. Not one bit. I've been robbed. Precious summer has been stolen away and I'm upset about it.
Le Creuset Doufou, a Lovely Gift from My Baby
Like a guest invited to five parties on New Year's Eve, summer came in late and left early sending autumn in as its proxy. Normally the summer-to-fall change of season brings immense kitchen inspiration, but this year I'm dusting off my Le Creuset doufou long before I've had my fill of using the outdoor grill. We've eaten precisely 9 red tomatoes from our vines, with 70 pounds of huge green ones refusing to ripen for lack of warmth and light. The dense corn patch shows spritzy tassels on its stalks, but not one single ear has yet been harvested. Several delightful Rosés langor in the wine refrigerator with lagging interest in their consumption. I've begun, perhaps prematurely, to worry about and cross my fingers for the 2010 vintage of Oregon wine. My once-a-week early morning 100-mile commute has already turned damp and gloomy. The kitchen has so soon become dark during dinner preparation, seriously stifling photography efforts.

A Fantastic Wine from a Fantastic Oregon Growing Season

As overjoyed as I am not, I will opt to look at the bright side.

Both varieties of winter squash, on the other hand, are burgeoning. Our orchard is producing a terrific apple and pear season. The freezer is stuffed with bags of summer's blanched chard and kale for use in autumnal soups, stews and casseroles. The cuddliness of flannel sheets beckon even if they must be put on the beds in September. A fire in the fireplace, candles en masse on the table and in-case-of-power-outage ">hiker's headlamps hanging on every doorknob make our country home feel warm and secure. Boots are always fun to pull to the front of the closet. And I mustn't forget, there's that beautiful doufou and all the delicious things that come out of it.
Braised Moroccan Lamb Shanks and Couscous
Served with the spicy 2006 Panther Creek Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Winemaker's Cuvee, Moroccan Spiced Lamb Shanks is a welcome autumn meal capable of convincing the most stalwart summer lover that perhaps we've crossed over to greener pastures after all.


  1. Wow, that dish looks so gourmet and delish - I am sending you some warm san diego weather vibes.

  2. You can't stay gloomy for long when there are lamb shanks on the stove.

  3. It's true that the sunlight fades faster in the fall, but delicious, warm you from your head to your toes dishes like those beautiful lamb shanks do help!

  4. What an amazing post. You started me off maudlin because summer's over, made me want to curl up under an afghan in front of a big fire by the middle and then finished me off drooling over that gorgeous lamb dish. That was a novel in one short blog and I loved it.

  5. The transition to fall can be a bummer for sure. One trick I have used is to crank up the wood stove on a mild fall day so the house gets warm like summer. Then we grill up something summery, pop some chilled wines and sit around in shorts acting like nothing changed!!


  6. First...have I mentioned how jealous I am of your country life, I would love to live in a place like that, but somehow I always move to big cities.
    I'm a bit upset with the end of summer too, but luckly California has sunny days all the time even in winter time. So I'm looking forward to some warm dishes. Loved the lamb with couscous recipe, looks delicious. Have a great weekend.

  7. Even though the days are shorter and cooler now here in Chicago land, I love Fall, the colors,and the smells of fragrant meals cooking, like the lamb shanks. We've already had two fires in the fireplace, and there will be many, many more. Have a glass of wine and Enjoy!

  8. Pam - Congrats on the Top 9! I remember this dish well - it was simply divine when you made it for Charles and I and your family. I am so happy to have the recipe and will have to make in the future. Enjoy your weekend!!!

  9. Congrats on the Top 9! I'm ready for fall - especially after seeing this gorgeous dish!


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