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This fall has flown by – but luckily it’s a season full of those days where the colors of the trees, the surprise of the cool on your skin, or the crisp light actually make you stop in your tracks and feel beauty.

The other weekend I was in a quiet mood and without thinking about it ended up spending the entirety of it on my own – watching movies, reorganizing my closet, wandering around my neighborhood of Greenpoint like I was a tourist seeing things for the first time and having conversations with  shopkeepers who were really the only people I spoke to that day.  By Sunday, when the sun was just starting to peek out I was ready for an adventure.  I  jumped in my car and headed upstate to Woodstock.  I was already there by the time the town was waking up and people were grabbing their first coffee of the day at Bread Alone and setting up the flea market in town.   I had a coffee with these ex-hippy – a handful of them definitely still hippy – strangers and then made my way towards the Buddhist monastery.   I parked there and hiked  –  straight up the incline –  to Overlook Mountain.  It was the perfect morning hike, leaves crunching under my feet, beautiful views at the top and some funky ruins of an old hotel on the way up.

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After my hike, I knew I wanted to have lunch in Accord about forty minutes away at a farm my friend had told me about.  I took some back roads and let myself get lost along the way.  The roads were beautiful, bathed with golden light from the leaves that framed them.  I kept finding cool little antique stores and pockets of people having pop up sales.  I stopped everywhere and bought all kinds of stuff from wooden bowls for a dollar, to a small barn door, to old pots and cool cutlery.  By the time I actually got to Accord I was starving.  Westwind Orchard is an organic farm where you can pick your own apples and berries and they also make an incredible pizza on the weekends.  They built an outdoor wood burning oven and have a super Italian team making kick ass pizzas.  It’s probably the best pizza I’ve had outside of Italy – and having spent most summers of my life in Napoli  I’m a pretty good judge. I had an heirloom tomato and ricotta pizza that blew my mind. The atmosphere is relaxed with people hanging out on blankets on the grass, live music playing, kids running around, adults lounging drinking wine.   It was the perfect end to the day and to a weekend of solo adventure.

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I don’t think I figured out anything in particular about my life that solo weekend.  But it did remind me that I’m good on my own, that I’ll never tire of nature, or seeing new places and that everyday is what you make of it…

Shortlist for an awesome fall day in upstate New York:
Overlook Mountain, Woodstock – for a good 5 mile hike with a great view.
Sunfrost Farms, Woodstock – to pick up produce, have breakfast or lunch.
Westwind Orchard, Accord –  for pizza, the vibe and a great farm store that also sells beautiful sweets.

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Sauce Portfolio

CANNING TOMATOES
I picked up some great fall tomatoes and organic produce in Woodstock at Sunfrost Farms, a sweet spot to shop or eat during the day.  Late fall tomatoes are perfect for canning and making sauce.  I like to make it whenever I have at least a few pounds of tomatoes on hand and try not to make a big project out of it, or I never get around to it! It’s dead easy.  I can’t believe I just used a Jamie Oliver expression… but it’s just that. 

Mason jars with lids
Tomatoes (meatier varieties of tomatoes work best, try to find ripe but not mushy ones)
Salt
Lemon

Sterilize your mason jars, including the tops and rings by boiling them in water for a few minutes.  Pull them out of the water with tongs and let cool a bit.

Peel tomatoes with a vegetable peeler, or score the bottom of the tomatoes and put them in boiling water for 30 seconds and then run under cold water for a moment and peel.  Cut the tomatoes in half; get rid of a lot of the seeds, no need to be meticulous.  Puree the tomatoes in a large pot with a handheld mixer, or quickly in a blender.  Simmer for 25-30 minutes, so that the sauce gets a bit thicker, add a generous pinch of salt and a tiny squeeze of lemon.   Ladle the hot sauce into jars, filling close to the top, screw on the lids and the put the jars into a large pot with water just covering the jars, boil for another 25-30 minutes.  Pull the jars out, let cool and sit still for a number of hours.  As the jars cool, the tops of the lids should suck in and vacuum seal the jars.  When the jars are cool if you can still hear the lid pop when you press on the center then the jar is not sealed.  I like to use the tomatoes within 6 months or so, but they could definitely keep for a little longer.

* I left out proportions because it really depends on how many great tomatoes, you find.  I think a pinch of salt and a few drops of lemon for each jar is a good rule of thumb.  For more in depth canning explanation and instruction check out this article on Kitchnn.