fall.

I have been a sartorial disaster lately.

I don’t know how it happens that each time the seasons change, I find myself caught out, at least a day or two (if I am being generous) behind the weather.

It’s autumn, friends, officially and irrevokably, and yet each chillier-than-I-anticipated morning finds me stuffing my feet into clogs when what I should be wearing is proper shoes. The wool sweaters and skirts – the ones that I have been pining for since roughly mid-August – all need a quick trip to the dry cleaner’s. And my rather vast collection of vintage coats? The repairs needed would fill a blog post all their own.

My stockings have holes in them. I need a new scarf. The moths have discovered my cashmere undershirts – as I discovered, to my horror, just yesterday.

When my birthday twin told me she’d found a fabulous grey fur while on a wine tasting holiday in the Niagaras, I was envious to an unseemly degree.

Disaster!

But there is really no need to speak in such dire terms on a day like today, inching towards the end of a week like this one, when I’ve been spoiled beyond measure on every front.

I’m anticipating that some austerity (again, on all fronts) will be in order before too long, but before that takes hold I’ve got stacks of new reading material, a cupboard full of wine, the promise of more glorious company this weekend, and – yes! – possibly a little shopping to look forward to.

Bon weekend mes amis!

Farro and Chanterelles For an Indulgent Weekend
adapted from Bon Appetit

Indulgent, indeed: I used chanterelles here because they are a seasonal treat and a serious favourite of mine, and I made this dish as a part of my birthday feast last week. But they are neither easy to find nor easy on the pocketbook, so my plan for the next time is to use a mixture of tasty common mushrooms and ramp up the flavour with some coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts.

2 cups semi-pearled farro*
4-6 tbsp olive oil
500g chanterelles, carefully cleaned and cut into one-inch pieces
1 c chicken broth
5 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

*I found farro vexingly difficult to track down, and wound up being given some in a very roundabout way by a neighbourhood friend. Pearled barley, which is much more readily available, would be a fine substitute.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt generously. Add farro and cook, stirring occasionally, until nearly tender, 15-20 minutes. Drain and toss lightly in a colander, then set aside to cool completely.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add roughly one third of the mushrooms and cook, turning once, until mushrooms are crisp and golden on the edges. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Repeat with remaining olive oil and mushrooms.

Bring broth to a simmer in a saucepan large enough to hold everything. Add farro to pan and cook, stirring, until farro is hot and has absorbed some of the broth. Taste, and season with salt and pepper. With pan still on the heat, beat in butter a few cubes at a time. Stir in mushrooms, chives and thyme. Taste once more and adjust seasoning if necessary, then serve immediately.

Serves four as a main, eight as a side.

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indulge me.

I tend to be a bit childish about my birthday.

Never mind that I am an adult – a parent, even! – with responsibilities and practical concerns to attend to daily; when it comes to my birthday, I insist on indulgence of all kinds.

This year was no different.

Although my actual birthday was this past Friday, I have enough wonderful friends and family in my midst that my celebration spilled into the weekend and is still, in some senses, ongoing.

So, I know I owe you more (much more!) than just this, but I hope you’ll indulge me for a few more days…

Birthday Brownies

1 1/3c soft unsalted butter
400g bittersweet chocolate, chopped – the best possible quality (I use Green and Black’s)
6 eggs, room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla
1 1/2c brown sugar
1 1/2c flour
a pinch of sea salt
1/2c white chocolate chips
1/2c chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9X13-inch baking dish and line with parchment. Fill a saucepan with water to the one-third mark, and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat.

Combine butter and chocolate chunks in a medium bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water and melt butter and chocolate together, stirring regularly with a heatproof spatula, until combined.

In another medium bowl, whisk together eggs, vanilla and brown sugar. Combine flour and salt in a separate small bowl.

Let chocolate mixture cool slightly, then whisk in egg mixture. Add flour mixture, white chocolate chips, and pecans, and beat until well combined.

Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake 20-25 minutes.

Cool completely in pan on a rack, then cut into squares.

You should get a minimum of 32, but really, the size (and level of indulgence) is completely up to you.