13 October 2008


We went down to Stockbridge today to visit the Norman Rockwell Museum. He spent his later years here, and his family opened a museum at his former home and studio. Breathtaking views from all vantage points. He was an incredible artist.
The GPS was set on tourist routes, so we took a lovely ride home through the country.
Very enjoyable.
I am surprised at how far along the leaves are down here. I think we are closer to peak (not past) up in Vermont and New Hampshire...

We are staying in Pittsfield, Mass. It was much more of a town than any of us imagined. I was thinking little old mill town, and it seems that was everyone in our group's picture of the place. It is quite a thriving metropolis. About ten years ago it had 80,000 people and GE was a major employer. They also have a ton of museums, theaters, B&B's and resorts. When GE closed up the population dropped in half and tourism took over as money maker. We went up to Hancock for the day and Jiminy Peak (ski resort). Very pretty area if you ever get out to Western Mass.

Arguably the best time of year in New England. With cool nights and warm days, very reduced bug population, and lower humidity levels make it one of my favorites. I have always had a love hate relationship with the trees in New England. I grew up in Colorado- the desert pretty much. The only trees we had were the knee high ones we planted, watered, and begged to grow. On moving to New England I missed the sky. Our first house here was nestled in the woods and you drove through a tunnel of trees to get to it. Since our current house was once an organic farm it has been cleared for growing fields although we do have nice sugar maples along the front and some short fruit trees in back. Because of our business I rarely got a chance to go out and experience the fall colors in all of their glory. This year, we are operating on a slightly different schedule so we have been able to take some hikes, and will spend some time down in the Berkshires leaf peeping with all the tourists. I feel like a giddy school girl about it :) I will post lots of pics when I can...

In the mean time I have been picking pears as fast as I can. The pumpkins were also pulled in. Operating on the good old New England No Heat Til Trick or Trick I have been in the mood to bake! Still waiting on the wood cook stove- I had to order a piece of pipe- gggrrrrrr... but my old reliable does just fine.
I made cheesecake for the first time in my life. Not the blend cream cheese with jello kind either. Pumpkin cheesecake drizzled with caramel and pecans! Here are a couple of recipes for ya!

Pumpkin Cheesecake INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 cups crushed gingersnap cookies
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/3 cup butter, melted

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup white sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a medium bowl, mix together the crushed gingersnap cookies, pecans, and butter. Press into the bottom, and about 1 inch up the sides of a 9 inch springform pan. Bake crust 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, and vanilla just until smooth. Mix in eggs one at a time, blending well after each. Set aside 1 cup of the mixture. Blend 1/4 cup sugar, pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg into the remaining mixture.
Spread the pumpkin flavored batter into the crust, and drop the plain batter by spoonfuls onto the top. Swirl with a knife to create a marbled effect.
Bake 55 minutes in the preheated oven, or until filling is set. Run a knife around the edge of the pan. Allow to cool before removing pan rim. Chill for at least 4 hours before serving. Drizzle with caramel, and top with whipped cream and pecans. Serve.
Pear Oatmeal cookies are a favorite standby recipe. I also did oven dried pears for the first time. They are so sweet! They taste nothing like the chalky ones I buy at the store...

Pear Oatmeal Cookies
1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups flour
2 fresh, medium-sized California Bartlett pears, coarsely chopped
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
granulated sugar

Cream butter and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in remaining ingredients except sugar. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto lightly greased baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with sugar.

Bake in 350 degree F oven for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.


Farm Chick Paula said...

Ugh- I'm jealous you have so much more fall color than we do... I'm afraid it's been so dry here we may not have much this year.
The recipes sound WONDERFUL!!

Ben said...

i made these things! it was wonderful! need more!

Renna said...

Both recipes sound delicious, but the cheesecake recipe has me drooling on my keyboard.

The pictures are absolutely gorgeous!

EXSENO said...

The weather is nice here to warm day time, cool nights, but this is the first time that the mosquito's haven't gone away yet and the flies are terrible.

The pictures are lovely and I'm going to copy those recipe's too the look great.

Shannon said...

I hope we still have color for a few more weeks! As long as we can.
Good tip I learned for making cheesecake was to use two sheets of tin foil and cross them on the bottom of the cheesecake pan (to help keep water out) then place cheesecake pan in a pan filled half way up with water. It keeps the cheesecake from cracking :)

Renna said...

Great idea, Shannon. I'll try it the next time I make a cheesecake! :-)