RUSTIC pleasures OF FALL…and Shiree’s Homemade Pesto

joy of nesting

Cooler weather is slowing setting upon California and it turns my attention to all things fall. The colors, the produce, and the crispness in the air inspire me to cook and redecorate.  In Northern California we have distinct changes of season.  I envy Southern Californians their winters but I wouldn’t trade with them our fall.

Dressed in fall colors this living room by designer Alessandra Branca is a year round pleasure.

The flowering quince on the patio above suggests spring but I imagine a lovely autumn lunch on a Saturday with a few family and friends. Melons and squash are at their peak in fall. But I’m partial to squandering the last of the summer tomatoes to peel, seed, and chop, and gently warm with basil and slivered garlic. It is great over kamut pasta. 

Tart olive green is my signature color. It reminds me of new, green growth in my garden. Olive green is a color that translates perfectly to every season. Spring, summer, fall, and winter.  It’s wonderful with red and white! I have forgotten who did this lovely room but wanted to include it anyway.

Native Californians know to take advantage of the good weather now and we scramble to get outside as much as possible. Although that isn’t to say we don’t have mild winter weather too. Fall gardening is absolutely the best for many spring annuals. Surprised by this? The reason is the ground is still warm and it gives the baby plant a head start. Annuals planted in fall outperform those planted in spring.  This is particularly true for snaps, pansies, allysum, stock, lobelia, and the perennial opium poppy.  I like to start with six packs.

Above is another room by Alessandra Branca. She does such lovely rooms in warm color palettes. I believe the built out bookcase is something she repeats in her projects. The color scheme is reminiscent of pumpkin soup, beets, and chocolate…maybe not the tastiest combination but certainly beautiful to the eye.  In real life, that pumpkin wall is probably red. Light bulbs tend to change the colors in photography.

I am sorry I can’t tell you who designed this room. The daring dark walls are balanced by the lightness of the sofa and area rug.  The late interior designer Mark Hampton was one of the first, if not the first to do this look.

This beautiful Italian street scene shows people shopping for flowers and veggies.  Fresh air markets are a mainstay in Europe. They are a great tradition. It is no wonder Americans seek to emulate them.

Thom Felicia’s design work inspires getting outside and enjoying the last of summer’s warmth. Love the arborvitae hedge, the zinc coffee table, and black wicker daybed!

Orange is the quintessential fall color…the color of pumpkins, maple leaves, and candy corn. The most wonderful family traditions happen in the fall. When Christian was little, Jim and I would take him to Vacaville to the great scarecrow contest and pumpkin festival at the Nut Tree. Or to Sonka’s Apple Ranch in Tuolumne County to ride the train, pet the farm animals, and buy their homemade apple dumplings with cinnamon sauce.

Fall activities can include trips to your local farmer’s market for apples and pumpkins. Pie and bread baking is a terrific fall tradition and it’s so wonderful to share these with dinner or weekend guests. I also love to make basil pesto this time of year. Basil has to be harvested before the cold nights set in so now is the time if you have basil in your garden.

Autumn walks, Halloween, Thanksgiving, soups, stews, and fires in my fireplace. I am feeling that urge to begin my nesting season.
Shiree’s Homemade Pesto with Pine Nuts
This recipe is best made in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, otherwise finely chop basil, walnuts, and garlic.
large bunch of basil, stems and seeds removed
(four cups leaves, tightly packed)
3 large cloves garlic
1/2 C. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 C. chopped walnuts
1/4 C. best quality grated Parmesan cheese
Save pine nuts for tossing in at the last minute…about 1/8 C. whole pine nuts
Process basil, garlic, and walnuts in food processor until finely chopped. Dribble in olive oil while motor is running. Toss in pine nuts and Parmesan cheese. Store in glass mason jar in refrigerator for up to six weeks.
Serve over spaghetti or angels hair pasta.

September 23, 2010

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RUSTIC pleasures OF FALL…and Shiree’s Homemade Pesto

RUSTIC pleasures OF FALL…and Shiree’s Homemade Pesto

RUSTIC pleasures OF FALL…and Shiree’s Homemade Pesto