Eat, Drink and Be Scary . . .

I thought that today I would pay attention to the calendar because it’s that time of year when the world wants to get scary  . . . and eat!  And I have lots of ideas for that!  Starting here, with a Halloween menu and some of the little things that make life sweet . . .  Not sure if it fits but I’m in the mood for French MUSICA!

Everything from spiderwebs in your soup to pumpkin ice buckets and plastic spiders floating in the your ice cubes ~ and don’t forget popcorn night and those wonderful old movies ~ maybe start a little project for a Christmas gift with a favorite old movie on TV.

 Shop your house and find things to decorate: celebrate harvest with apples, pears, pumpkins and squashes, old quilts, candles, jars of fresh herbs and marigolds, baskets, leaves, acorns and pine cones . . . make small seasonal vignettes.  Let the last tomatoes from the garden ripen on a kitchen windowsill.  Sleep with the windows open so the stars and the moon can watch over you.

Set out old books and magazines with covers that remind you of what you love. . .

Cook and invite your friends over . . . It just wouldn’t be fall for us without our favorite Chili recipe — get the best chili powder you can find at your market ~ we usually get the kind you can buy in bulk ~ or bags of it in the Mexican food department.  This recipe isn’t particularly hot, as in spicy (or “pica” as they say (brilliantly) in Mexico), but you can add a quarter tsp. of red pepper flakes if you’d like to feel a little more heat.  It goes delightfully with the sour cream!  Here’s the recipe:

Click HERE to see step-by-step directions for making this special Chili. This would be a very good place to use your sour cream spider web, especially for a Halloween dinner.  Serve things in heavy pottery, wooden bowls, pewter, ironstone, brown and white transferware, red Spode.

Invite your friends (no matter how strange they might seem to the outside world, you know their hearts are in the right place) ~ ask them to wear their hats.

“It’s not what’s on the table that matters, it’s what’s on the chairs . . .”

Another good place for the sour cream spiderweb mentioned in  EAT, DRINK AND BE SCARY at the top of this page . . . is my elegant

It’s all delicious with . . .

Or this next one, one of my favorite recipes ever . . . every delicious thing of the season, cinnamon-dusted roasted apples, plump raisins that pop in your mouth, thick pork chops, moist with celery and onion stuffing, and sweet potatoes . . . in one big casserole that makes your whole house smell like heaven.

Here I am, in my favorite fall apron (that I love even if it does make me look like a country road), stuffing “Jack-be-Little” (did someone say Jack?  waaaah) Pumpkins with apples, leeks, squash, mashed with butter and cream.

You can have one on each plate when your guests arrive, or serve them on a large platter, they are such a knock-out . . . you can also stuff them with the Sweet Potato Casserole on p. 65 of my Autumn Book (cream cheese, sweet potatoes, brown sugar, eggs, walnuts, nutmeg, yum!).

When it’s turkey-day, surround your roasted bird with these and when you bring it out people think they stepped into a Norman Rockwell painting.  Know what?  Make just one for you and one for someone you love.  That’s good enough.

Here’s an easy placecard I made one year.  I used letter-stamps for my friend’s names and burnt the edges over the flame on my stove holding the card with tongs.  Be sure to blow out the flame quickly before the whole thing burns up!  You can lean the card against a tiny vase of flowers, cut a slit in a mini-pumpkin and slip it in there, lay it on top of the napkin or tuck it into a small pine cone.

I always forget to take pictures of my Corn Pudding until it looks like this.  It’s the most wonderful easy, delicious dish in the world.  Here’s the RECIPE.

And now, the must-have of the season . . .

If you have never made this before, please take this opportunity to do it!  And make the lemon sauce.  This is an amazing dessert: tender fragrant deliciousness. ♥  Warm cake in a puddle of cold lemon sauce with whipped cream.

Go on a wild goose chase . . .

While it bakes and fills your kitchen with gingerbread fragrance, grab a sweater and go outside and poke around.  Take your scissors and see what kind of wild things you can gather to decorate with.  Or plan a walk in the wild and windy woods, bring nature indoors ~ wild asters, windfall apples, or rose hips, whatever is local to you. Everyone has something, you might be surprised when you go out to look.

More MUSICA? Is it time yet? Oui!

It’s really unending all the wonderful decorations you can make with things you find on the ground.

“October gave a party, the leaves by hundreds came . . .”

Last year we grabbed a few fallen branches and leaves and wound them with bittersweet to decorate our front door.

Cinnamon, being so good for you, is great in this ice cream and nice thing to have in your freezer for small unplanned celebratory moments.  ♥  I speak from experience.

Fly your colors, Girlfriends . . . air your down comforters for the winter. Bring fresh fall air inside.

It doesn’t have to be very much for you to feel like something is special about today. A little vase of flowers is all you really need.

And then of course, there is the possibility of TWINE …. a four o-clock cup of tea with a friend, and then, when it’s five o’clock somewhere, perhaps another kind of surprise from the fridge . . .

You can include a gummy worm in your Vampire’s Kiss for a special Halloween scream fest!  This is actually our favorite thing for April Fool’s Day, here in a glass with coffee in it, or at the edge of the shower drain, both work so very well. (This is part of the DNA that develops when you are born into a large family. Torture of your fellow man naturally comes with the territory.)

Halloween Boo!


EAT DRINK & BE SCARY Girlfriends . . . it’s that time of year!!! XOXOXO Love You!

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306 Responses to Eat, Drink and Be Scary . . .

  1. Susan says:

    What a charming post ! Love all your ideas to celebrate Autumn. Of course, I love your Autumn book, too!! Drove to Cripple Creek to see the brilliant aspen week before last.

    We are in St. Charles, Missouri, on our east coast swing from Colorado. What a charming little town! Over 125 stores and restaurants in the historic downtown. We had no idea… An unexpected surprise!!! Leaves are turning here and everything is decorated for fall. Glorious!
    You may want to pass this way on your trip back to MV.

    I love all the new items in your shop; however, being on a retirement budget they can be difficult to afford. Any chance your organic tea could be purchased without the adorable tin?
    I love the tin, but have no space for it in the Airstream. Options like this would give me more flexibility in ordering your wonderful products.

    Still hoping to see you at the Page and Palette in Fairhope, Alabama, this winter!!:-)

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, the tea is on it’s way in just the bags. Should be in this week! Sounds like you’re having a wonderful trip!

  2. Lisa Nelson-Jones East Tn says:

    OMG!!! That quilt!!! That tea!!!! I want it all!!!! Is that too greedy? 🙂

  3. Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

    Question Susan: When you serve the One-Dish Stuffed Pork Chop, Sweet Potatoes, and Apples dish, what do you serve with it–for a salad? I can see a bowl of your good baked cranberries with it but would appreciate any ideas as I think I will serve this dish for a dinner party we are having next weekend. Thanks! 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      The cranberries would be great … I’d probably make my spinach salad with bacon (p.53 of HEART OF THE HOME), and cut up some red-skinned pears to put on it. This is going to be a delicious dinner Pat!

  4. Sylvia Faye says:

    Susan your posts come into my email box like a ‘ray of sunshine’ and always at the most unexpected moments. This post, as always, shines your happy outgoing spirit and made my day.
    I used to go home to Virginia in the Fall as it was always so lovely and with an October birthday one just has to love the beauty of this time of year.
    As for the tasty, tempting receipes in this post my question to you is how can I download them for my recipe box?
    One of the things I greatly, greatly appreciate with all your posts is the watercolours you choose with each description of what is happening at the time you write your post. The other thing I love about your post is the feeling of receiving a handwritten letter which is all to rare these days, n’est ce pas?
    May the rest of your trip be filled with daily joys and blessings. I am still hoping to receive your book from one of my daughters. Will let you know if that happens for my birthday this month.

  5. Ann Y in PA says:

    Susan…have to share with you because I always remember how you MET THE BEATLES ! ( insert scream here !!!) – Last night a church in Lancaster, PA had a “Beatles Mass”. All the music played ( and sung by the congregation) was by the Fab Four. It was amazing….and to see how the lyrics meshed with the scripture readings for the day was inspiring. Communion hymms were “Long and winding road”, “Across the universe”, and “Hey, Jude”. Ended the service with “All you need is love”….ain’t it the truth ? This is not our “home” church, but when they have these services we love to attend and feel so welcome. One message on the church website says they practice “radical hospitality”. Don’t you love that term ??? Kind of what you encourage us to do with our homes, friends, and family. OK, just wanted to share that with you….and bless you – I can’t imagine getting so many posts on your blog and having to keep up with it all….THANK YOU !

  6. Minette says:

    Oh, Susan! Your post was exactly what I needed! Autumn is my favorite season but my work has been preventing me from really taking the time to enjoy it the way that would love to. However, your inspriational ideas and writing have renewed my determinination to make things happen in my home! Your stack of Christmas books is very similar to mine and cannot wait to begin re-reading all of them. By the way, I have been meaning to ask you–have you ever seen the charming illustrations of Molly Brett? She was a dearly loved children’s book illustrator in England who followed Beatrix Potter’style of painting animals with human characteristics and detail. I grew up with her books and used to spend hours just looking at the detail she included in her illustrations, but she has a few Christmas books that are really lovely and seeing your stack of books, especially Little Grey Rabbit made me think of her. I know you are anxious to return to MV, but we all have enjoyed your posts from differnt places in our beautiful country. Thanks so much for this post and and all the others! Can’t wait unitl the Yankee magazine comes out!

    • sbranch says:

      Oh yes, very familiar with Molly Brett too Minette. Wonderful! YANKEE comes to the studio this week I think!

  7. Marie says:

    The ‘Little Chef’ toy metal ranges I see in the back of some photos…….are they going to be for sale too? Love, love, love them!

  8. Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

    Welllll…it didn’t take 6 months to housebreak our schnauzers when they were puppies, more like 2-3 days. One of them never had an “accident”–ever. But you do need to watch them like a hawk and if you see them sniffing around, you have to grab them and get them outside. And also letting them out frequently at first helps, as well as using the same door so they learn to go to the door which clues you, the owner, into the fact that they have to go outside. But it does sound like housebreaking a kitty is easier…I’m guessing their little bladders are more developed sooner than a puppy, which is part of the reason puppies need to be let out more frequently when they are little…Love Jack’s pretty green eyes–they look so much like a person’s eyes or a dog’s eyes with the round pupil. I’ve never seen a cat with eyes that don’t have pupils that look like a vertical slit most of the time… 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Two to three days? Those are miracle dogs! Have you ever seen a goat up close Pat? Those are the ones with the funny pupils!

      • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

        That is why all of the books on miniature schnauzers call them the dog with the “human brain”. They are extremely smart, really want to please, and are extremely clean. We sort of take the housebreaking ease for granted but I have heard horror stories from people about some other breeds. I suspect there is another reason for this, though, and this is it: The schnauzer breeders we’ve dealt with to get our schnauzers over the years are pretty fussy about not selling puppies until they are at least 3 months old. I would venture to say that most people selling puppies want to get them sold sooner–so maybe the average puppies’ bladders aren’t fully developed and they can’t wait as long where, when we get them at 3 months old, they have that benefit? Should I now confess to you that out of the 6 schnauzers we have had in our married life, we only started with 2 of them as puppies. The others had their championships, had had a litter of pups, and were being “placed” as they were being retired (usually at 2 years of age!). I will tell you–it sure doesn’t make ripples in your life like a puppy, they are usually housebroken by then, and they seem forever grateful for a home of their own. At first I was concerned that we wouldn’t “bond” the same way we would with a puppy but that isn’t the case–it is amazing how quickly they feel like ours and vice versa–plus we think of how many people want a cute little puppy and maybe overlook these nice adult dogs that really need a home, too… 🙂

        • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

          Also–I know what you mean about goat eyes, they almost look weird!!! 🙂

  9. Audrianne Hill says:

    Great post! It makes me love autumn even more when someone I admire likes it too.

  10. jennifer says:

    Being from the South, I’m more used to making dressing than stuffing. At the risk of sounding like an eejit, are you talking about purchased dry breadcrumbs – the kind that can come with Italian seasoning are plain?

  11. Teresa says:

    I bought all the ingredients for the cinnamon ice cream. I must be missing something in the recipe, though. I see where it says to add 1 c. of heavy cream (from the total of 1 1/2 cups). But where do I add the remaining 1/2 c. of the heavy cream? Thank you.

  12. Teresa says:

    Oh Susan, I am so sorry, I found my mistake with the heavy cream. I see it now. I must have read that recipe 3 times!!! I guess I must be tired. Maybe some cinnamon ice cream will perk me up. Thanks and sorry again.

  13. Sharon says:

    Love the history of Jack. Since it’s my fate to be cat-less these days due to my granddaughter’s severe allergy, this is a post I will read and reread. So very true about cats in general, and the pictures are simply precious. Love them all. I do feed a couple of beautiful strays who yearn to enter the house, but they must remain outside for the reason above. But at least I can still have kitties to watch and appreciate. Thank you, Susan, for again uplifting my life!

  14. Loretta says:

    Dear Susan….what a wonderful story about Jack….I had a kitty for 16 yrs. and his name was Buddy. He showed up on our doorstep one day….and never left. After 16 yrs. he got very ill, and left us for Kitty Heaven…..oh, how I miss my buddy. Our friends have a cat named Mr. Bob and I love him! We are in the middle of moving, selling 2 houses and life is very hectic for us now….but when the dust settles………….I will get me a new friend. They are so cuddly and loving……..thanks for sharing your story and pics of Jack….he’s so cute! And Girl Kitty is very pretty!!! Have a great day…. Loretta/Santa Nella, Ca.

  15. Jennifer says:

    Hi, for the dried bread crumbs in the stuffing, do you mean the type that come in a container? Like progresso? I’m trying to picture that as a stuffing, although I might just not realize it because I’m from the South! I have all your books, how did I miss that recipe? I just bought all the ingredients for the recipe.
    Thanks so much!

  16. Jennifer says:

    Oh dang it! I see now that my other post is awaiting moderation! Sorry. I thought it might just not have posted because I was in the grocery typing on my phone with my 2 children talking a mile a minute!

  17. Deborah Norling says:

    Speaking of eat drink and be scary and brothers……..1965..My Mom and Dad took us to China town in San Francisco…of all the many delights in the little gift brother Brian DESPERATELY wanted…the plastic ice cubes with black flies in the center…My Mom said..NO WAY. !…..the next day I ran into the house to get a drink…opened the freezer to get ice cubes and was horrified to discover..Brian had made his own version of trick ice cubes by freezing actual real dead flies into the ice cube tray !

  18. gosh, this might be my favorite post…ever! all that Octobery goodness and then gingerbread…oh my! I do love me some excellent gingerbread.

  19. Rhonda says:

    Your post and the great goods I received got me moving happily into autumn and I am normally strictly a summer girl. Love the tin, am wearing my MV charm and hoping it has magical powers that will get me back there sooner rather than later, and have decided to have my kitchen towel framed. All are lovely.

    Just read about a book you may enjoy – due to be released in Nov., written by Marta MCDowell called “The Gardens of Beatrix Potter”, per The author teaches landscape history at NY Botanical Gardens and wrote previously on Emily Dickinson’s gardens. She’s giving a talk at a tea as a fund raiser for a famous NJ garden or I probably wouldn’t have learned of her book.

    Thanks for your enjoyable travel tales. Stay safe.
    Rhonda Cooper

  20. SandiInAZ says:

    Jack’s stache is just too perfect. What a doll.
    Thanks so much for sharing him with us. 🙂

  21. Lucy says:

    Hello Susan –
    Thank you so much for all the delicious recipes! I made the touchdown chili, the corn bread and butternut squash soup – and my family loved them all!! That cornbread is soooo good! I hope you are well and enjoying the fall. By the way – I asked my local library to carry your book and they did! More people can enjoy your beautiful treasure!
    XO, Lucy

  22. Debs OBrien says:

    How have I managed to miss two blog entries?
    Note to Self~~~pay attention!

    Wonderful colder weather recipes~~piling on the pounds if we are not careful 😉 Love the garnish on the soup! I used to decorate sponge cakes in a similar way with glace icing, sometimes in a web pattern, sometimes in stripes and ‘feathering’ them in alternate directions. Got to be quick though, as that glace icing sets very quickly!

    Gorgeous, Autumn~y pictures and colours.
    Waving from Across The Pond in *VERY* wild, wet, windy, wuthering, wonderful west Wales! xoxo

  23. Cathy Guljas says:

    Hi! Susan, I just wanted to let you know that I made the stuffed pork chops and apples last night for my dad and his wife. You met Ann and I in Wilmington at Books and more. Dad was very impressed, he liked that it was a “one pot meal”. It was delish and Ann and I thought of you as the Hunters moon came up and peeked through the dining room window.

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you for that sweet thought. Say hi to your Dad for me! I’m so happy you enjoyed those pork chops!

  24. Maureen Benke says:

    Love this site!

  25. Lisa from CT says:

    I am so excited Susan! I am making your stuffed pork chops, apples and sweet potatoes for my daughter’s in-laws tomorrow night!!! I will let you know how everything turns out!

  26. My newest favorite post! I am truly in the Halloween spirit now.. In the best most Norman Rockwell-ish way. Thank you!

  27. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Yesterday, I was at a dear GF’s beautiful home all decked out for Fall (um her home, not me), with 2 other dear GFs, workin’ (ha, sort of) on a punkin’ candle mat. Got home & whoopee, Yankee Magazine was here (thanks to SB Studio), I opened the package, not reading the article, saving it for later, started dinner, stopped, HAD to go read article & it took me right out of Fall into Christmas!!! Time flies when you’re having fun! Love the article, the pictures of you and Joe, & your gorgeous cozy, comfy HOME! Congratulations!!!! I finally, finished dinner! Hugs galore! ♥

  28. Linda says:

    I love your blog and your style. So homey and comfortable. Like wrapping a worn cozy quilt around you. Been under the weather so I missed this but can’t wait to try the recipes. Apples are waiting.
    BTW, we had 2″ of wet snow in the midwest. Looked more like Christmas than Halloween!! Love fall tho!

  29. Susan, I am trying to obtain a copy of your “Autumn” book. It is me or is it extremely rare and out of print? Hard to find now….do you happen have any copies for sale out there or am I to continue with Amazon and eBay? 🙂 Many thanks!

    • sbranch says:

      It’s out of print, so sorry Michele … BUT, we are going back to print with it and it will be available around May. Every so often we get a copy in — keep an eye on the Vintage section of our web store.

  30. Sadie Webb says:

    Hi, I will be in SLO this weekend, I cant wait to see you. I own all your books & love your artwork in your books. I plan to buy your book Saturday….it’s nowhere to be found in Sacramento! See you Saturday, Sadie Webb

    • sbranch says:

      Will see you there Sadie — and fyi, there will be signed books available all day on Saturday, but if you want yours personalized, I’ll be there on Sunday from 1-3.

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  32. Sherry Winchester says:

    As usual, you serve it up in your own inimitably creative style. Terrific post! Thank you, Susan!

  33. KarenP - Wisconsin says:

    The Butternut Squash Bisque is one of my fave recipes of yours, Susan! I make it every Autumn to usher in my fave season. A cozy Autumn supper. Thank you for sharing it.

    • sbranch says:

      I might just have to make that while we’re here. It’s getting quite blustery out there, leaves are flying up everywhere. xoxo

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