There is so much to bring here to “Thyme” captured during this gorgeously brilliant month of October. I’ve been a bit frenetic with keeping pace with all of the October festivals, fall foliage drives, overlapping job assignments, and arrivals of dear friends that have kept our guest bedroom well loved this month.
I’ll start this entry by going to the beginning of October. The old 1700s Bean Tavern home nearest to us (with a working tavern even today) had an evening gathering of music in their back apple orchard of friends from near and far. Our talented friend David and his band The Lugnuts filled the country air with soulful tunes as the stars twinkled above us in the sky and the early October breezes encouraged snuggles. (If you follow me on Instagram…I have a little clip from the evening instagram.com/thymephoto). We literally ate and ate throughout the evening from the many dishes that everyone brought to share that filled every inch of their large wooden community table.
I don’t think there has been a day this month when long walks near the woods have not resulted in armfuls of foraged berries, softly patterned leaves, scented pine boughs, and all manner of forest foliage that fills up my large pewter pitcher on the kitchen table with fall hues of sages, cranberries, plums, chocolates, and oranges.
New Hampshire buttons up and wraps itself in its most impressive seasonal attire during this month. As we are inside changing out closets from summer to winter with colors going from light mints and soft lavenders to masculine plaids and maroon checks, the shifting air, the surrounding woods, and the distant mountains seem to be going through the same closet rotations.
Last year, our farmhouse bulged with friends and family visiting with us to capture the serene whisperings of swaying trees and the colorful saturated hillsides of maple trees that reflect mirrored muted impressions in the lakes and rivers. It’s as if giant horse hair paint brushes glide gently over the state from north to south and saturate the downy pages of landscape with the promised colors of October. Then…with one quiet gentle snow fall, it’s like a page of the artist’s pad is flipped over fresh and cottony white. Just when the last leaf has soundlessly pirouetted to the ground, New Hampshire settles down for its long white wintry nap on a fresh new page shimmering with newfound expectations.
I love when the soft scent of wood smoke begins to drift through the air as one by one wood burning fireplaces are lit in order to keep out the early morning and late evening chill. The leaves crunch underfoot, mushrooms push up and emerge through the soggy ground cover and that wonderful wet earthy smell of autumn fills the air in a way no candle’s scent can quite capture.
October is when our little village of Warner takes center stage in New Hampshire. The annual Warner Fall Foliage Festival is a yearly event seemingly lifted out of a picture postcard. Traditions that set their roots long ago simply spring up once again in October with a new cast of locals behind the scenes to present to the state the finest artists, farmers, woodcarvers, and performers. From Boston, to Canada and Vermont, travelers gather to spend one glorious weekend in festivity enjoying lobster rolls and BBQ chicken dinners. The oxen pull competition certainly draws a loyal and festive crowd!
I had the wonderful opportunity to work on a feature article for the editor of New Hampshire Magazine. I had the privilege of not only photographing the festival but also photographing a farmhouse porch gathering of guests who arrived at our own farmhouse that weekend. We set up a country table on the long wide front porch. Fall dishes, desserts, and cocktails were prepared. We all dined outdoors and had a splendid fall afternoon celebrating and eating the flavors of the season…roasted butternut squash, savory galettes, spiced pumpkin poppyseed cake, and delicious and vibrant autumn sangria. I loved doing this type of work...how can it be called work really…but it is all packaged up and getting ready to head to the magazine where it will be the October feature article…for 2017!
I should mention something about these creamy dreamy Banana Coconut Cream Pie photos without further delay. This beauty is the creation of Patrick. Yes, my engineer husband has quite the artistic and culinary talent in the kitchen. His specialties are pies and cookies. I’m afraid he is not seasonally confined when his sweet tooth starts to wiggle. Even though it is October…it was banana and coconut that swirled dreamily in his head. I have no problems with this. I happily step aside, take off the apron, and let the man do his thing in the kitchen. Because...as you can see…this swirling creamy pie is what happens at the outcome.
So much more to bring here from this glorious month. I’ve been tidying up the garden. All the of the tomato plants are out…the shallots are pulled…the broccoli plants chopped down and the beans have been long gone. Next year, I want to plant more gourds and squashes so I have a patch of earth set aside for that endeavor.
The wood for the winter has been delivered. We certainly have our daily workout set. Hauling and stacking wood from the back orchard into the barn is definitely better than going to a gym…so no complaints here.
In between all of the fall festivities, at the tail end of October, my neighbor and I took off for a trip to Iceland. Patrick met up with me there after a few days and we spent time driving all over this otherworldly land of expansive glaciers and looming volcanos. We wanted to mark our 25th wedding anniversary in a rather spectacular fashion. Iceland is a good pick for this. It was nothing short of spectacular…incredible really. I cannot wait to edit and collect some of my favorite photos here and tell the stories of what we did, saw, and of course…ate!
- Custard Filling:
- ¼ cup corn starch
- ⅔ cup sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 cups milk scalded
- 3 slightly beaten egg yolks
- 2 TBS butter
- ½ tsp vanilla
- 1 to 2 ripe bananas
- 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
- 3 egg whites
- 6 TBS sugar
- ¼ tsp cream of tartar
- Pie Crust: (I double this recipe before halving it...because I like really thick pie crust)
- 2 ½ cups pastry flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¾ cup cold butter, cut into chunks
- ¼ cup cold leaf lard or vegetable shortening, cut into chunks
- ¼ cup cold water
- Pie Crust: Mix the 2 cups of the flour, salt and sugar together lightly in a mixing bowl or in the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and lard chunks and cut into the flour using a pastry cutter or by pulsing the food processor. The mixture should look like large crumbs and begin to cling together in clumps. Add the remaining ½ cup of flour and mix lightly or pulse the processor two or three times.Sprinkle the water over the dough and with hands or a wooden spoon mix in until dough holds together.Divide the pie dough into 2.Using two sheets of parchment paper that is at least twelve inches square each, place a disc of dough between them. (If the dough is sticky for any reason, don’t worry. Just sprinkle some flour on the parchment to get started. You shouldn’t have to add much and it will stop sticking.) Starting at the center roll the pin out to the edge. Turn the dough and parchment as necessary and continue rolling, always from the center to the outer edge. The goal is to have a circle shape that will be just slightly larger than the pie dish. After a couple rolls, lift the parchment paper away from the dough to loosen and replace the parchment. Flip the whole thing and loosen the other paper sheet. Continue rolling until the dough is about eleven inches in diameter for a nine inch pie dish.When the dough circle is the desired size (hover the pie pan over the dough to check if the dough circle is large enough) loosen both sheets of parchment by lifting them away and then replacing them on the dough. Keep one sheet of paper on the dough and use it to lift the dough and flip it into the pie dish. Take care to center the dough in the dish. Remove the paper.Carefully lift the edges of the dough and scoot the dough into the bottom corners of the dish. Try not to trap any air under the bottom crust. This pie lined dish can go into the refrigerator while you make the custard and the meringue.
- Custard Filling:
- Mix corn starch, sugar, and salt together in a sauce pan. Scald the 2 cups of milk on the stove top until just simmering around the edges. Slowly pour the milk into the dry ingredients. Place this mixture on the stove top and heat on medium heat. Stir constantly until custard begins to thicken and slightly boils. When beginning to boil, cook for 2 minutes longer and then remove from the heat. Add a little bit of the custard mixture into the eggs. Then slowly add the egg mixture into the custard mixture and cook everything for about 2 minutes more. Remove custard from stove top and add the butter and vanilla. Cool slightly by placing a piece of plastic wrap on top of the custard and put in the refrigerator.
- To make the meringue, whip the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar with a stand or hand held mixer.
- Remove the custard from the refrigerator and gently fold in the sweetened flaked coconut. The custard must be cool before spooning it into the pie crust. Cut up bananas and place at the bottom of the pie crust. Spoon custard filling on top of bananas. Spoon meringue on top of custard. Using the back of a spoon, make swirl patterns in the meringue. Put oven on broil. Place pie under broiler and watch carefully until the top is toasted and slightly browned.