Breakfast Giveaway

This bowl of oatmeal is turning into my fall favorite!

I had it Monday, yesterday and today. And I still have enough pumpkin to have it a few more times this week, too ;)


I normally don’t have chocolate this often for breakfast, but 1/2 Tbsp of dark chocolate each day won’t kill me.

Plus, the dark chocolate is just perfect with the pumpkin, banana, and peanut butter.


It’s just too good to leave out.

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 cup water
  • pinch salt
  • cinnamon
  • 1/2 banana, sliced
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin
  • 1 Tbsp peanut butter
  • 1/2 Tbsp dark chocolate chips


This is definitely one of the best ways to start off my day during my favorite season of the year.

*Don’t forget to vote for your favorites in Project Food Blog – you can vote for 400 different bloggers in the first round through today!


Last Tuesday evening, Nick and I had the chance to hear Barbara Kingsolver and Steven Hopp speak about “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”, one of my favorite books.



It was fun to hear them both speak about the book and their experiences – they each read excerpts from their sections of the book and held a question-and-answer session at the end of the presentation.

Sadly, Nick and I had to come home before I was able to get my book signed, but I did pick up another copy for one of you! I honestly love this book and have read it more than once since I bought it last year.

Kingsolver has a way of weaving her family’s love of food into each story and each season and reconnects you to your own food in the process.

One of the biggest reasons I’ve become so interested in my own local food movement is this book – there are great resources and stories and everything in this book just reminds me that there are seasons for a reason.

Food tastes better when it’s in season, and I’m extremely happy to live in an area that experiences all 4 seasons each year.

Maybe this doesn’t mean that I’ve given up bananas (they definitely don’t grow in Virginia), but I DO try to buy as much locally as possible – produce, meat, baked goods.

If you haven’t read the book, I would definitely recommend it.

And in honor of fall settling in across the country, here’s an excerpt that seems fitting.

Smashing Pumpkins

Driving through our little town in late fall, still a bit love-struck for Tuscany’s charm, I began to see my hometown through new eyes.  We don’t have medieval hilltop towns, but we do have bucolic seasonal decor and we are not afraid to use it.  “Look,” I cried to my family, “we live in Pleasantville.”  They were forced to agree.  Every store window had its own cheerful autumnal arrangement to celebrate the season.  The lamp posts on Main Street had corn shocks tied around them with bright orange ribbons.  The police station had a scarecrow out front.

Yard art is an earnest form of self-expression here.  Autumn, with its blended undertones of “joyful harvest” and “Trick-or-Treat kitsch,” brings out the best and worst on the front lawns:  colorful displays of chrysanthemums and gourds.  A large round hay bale with someone’s legs hanging out of its middle.  (A pair of jeans and boots stuffed with newspaper, I can only hope; we’ll call it a farm safety reminder.)  One common theme runs through all these dioramas, and that is the venerable pumpkin.  They were lined up in rows, burnished and proud and conspicuous, the big brass buttons on the uniform of our village.  On the drive home from our morning’s errands we even passed a pumpkin field where an old man and a younger one worked together to harvest their crop, passing up the orange globes and stacking them on the truck bed to haul to market.  We’d driven right into a Norman Rockwell painting.

Every dog has its day, and even the lowly squash finally gets its month.  We may revile zucchini in July, but in October we crown its portly orange cousin the King Cucurbit and Doorstop Supreme.  In Italy I had nursed a growing dread that my own country’s food lore had gone over entirely to the cellophane side.  Now my heart was buoyed.  Here was an actual, healthy, native North American vegetable, non shrink-wrapped, locally grown and in season, sitting in state on everybody’s porch. 

The little devil on my shoulder whispered, “Oh yeah?  You think people actually know it’s edible?”

The angel on the other shoulder declared “Yeah” (too smugly for an angel, probably), the very next morning.  For I opened our local paper to the food section and found a colorful two-page spread under the headline “Pumpkin Possibilities.”  Pumpkin Curry Soup, Pumpkin Satay!  The food writer urged us to think past pie and really dig into this vitamin-rich vegetable.  I was excited.  We’d grown three kinds of pumpkins that were now lodged in our root cellar and piled on the back steps.  I was planning a special meal for a family gathering on the weekend.  I turned a page to find the recipes.

As I looked them over, Devil turned to Angel and kicked butt.  Every single recipe started with the same ingredient: “1 can (15 oz) pumpkin.”


Now….I have NOT cooked my own pumpkin yet this season, but I do have big plans to do just that!


Since I love this book so much, I want to share it!


If you want to win a copy of this book (and maybe a few other fun items from me), just leave me a comment with your favorite thing about fall.

I’ll pick a winner Thur
sday morning



  1. So, I actually own the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, so if I inadvertently win this giveaway, you can just give it to the next in line! But I just wanted to echo how much I love this book. Kingsolver is not only a great writer, but she really makes you understand the merits of local food. It’s just a great read. Lucky that you had the chance to see her and her husband speak!

    I’m not sure where exactly in VA you live, but have you checked out the Meadowview Farmers’ Guild/Harvest Table restaurant in Meadowview, right off Rt. 81? It’s a neat little place that sells local food and I think Steven Hopp is one of the founders? I stopped there once a year or two ago when I lived in Northeast Tennessee and was traveling up 81, but I think it was February or March and there wasn’t much in the way of produce. Still seemed like a cool place, though!

  2. The scents! I love the smell of food and fall candles. :)

  3. My favorite thing about Fall is apple picking! There are so many varieties and many different recipes to incorporate them into.

  4. My favorite thing about fall is walking out of the house in the morning and feeling the slight crispness in the air….watching the leaves turn….and the smells of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves combined with apples, pumpkin, and squash baking in sweet and savory treats.

    OK, thats more than one thing.

    I think I’m just feeling a little nostalgic for the East Coast at the moment…”fall” in Texas means 78 degrees in the morning instead of 88. :)

  5. I also own this book already, so I’m not entering the giveaway. I just wanted to comment! I am SO jealous that you got to hear her & Steven speak. How cool!

  6. My favorite thing about fall is Oktoberfest. I love German beers and food.

  7. Favorite thing about fall is definitely the changing colors of the leaves. So beautiful, natural, and graceful.

  8. What a cool event! That book sounds great – love the excerpt you posted:)
    My favorite thing about fall would have to be candles :) Pumpkin is a close second though!

  9. Hi,

    My favorite thing about Fall would be my fall baking with apples, pumpkin whoopie pies, white chocolate dipped gingersnaps, etc. Fall just has a great “feel!”

    Thanks for the opportunity!

  10. fall is perfect running weather :) and i also love apples and squashes galore!!

  11. That is a delicious looking breakfast. Dark chocolate is good for you ;) So i’m all for involving it in breakfast!! What a cool book. I’ve never heard of it! My favorite thing about fall…well I have a few- pumpkin spice syrup at starbucks, butternut & acorn squash, apples!

  12. i love fresh apples!

  13. Oooh I’d love to get that book! My favorite thing about fall is definitely the food (of course). Apples, squash, pumpkins, stews…it’s all so comforting and delicious!

  14. Apple picking and pie!! YUM……. :)

  15. My favorite thing about fall is SOUP! I love making and experimenting with all kinds of healthy soup. And, what goes better with soup than crusty bread, ummm.

  16. I just love the beginning of the holidays… I’m a huge fan of everything Thanksgiving!

  17. Oh I love that book!!! My favorite thing about is definitely the weather- something about it cooling down and the crisp air makes me unnecessarily happy ;)

  18. brandi…your story about jose had me almost tearing up at my computer this morning. it is truly amazing how resilient some of these kids are – especially the ones born into the most horrible of circumstances. one year, i REALLY hope to join you and nick in honduras. the chance to give back to people who are in dire need is one none of us as human beings should pass up.

    in other comments, your pics of maggie also have my lil’ heart breaking! she is so dang cute!

    and i am so happy you won that food + wine correspondence thing – those recipes you’ve made all look fabulous, and i have already bookmarked the roasted squash with cilantro cream to make.

    thank you for having such a wonderful heart – happy wednesday dear!!!!

  19. p.s. my favorite thing about fall is taking a walk on those cool, brisk days then coming home to a warm cup of apple cider or hot chocolate :)

  20. It looks like a wonderful book! My favorite things about fall are the colors of the leaves as they turn and butternut squash. Enjoy your day!

  21. Hello! LOVED reading all your recaps of travels and those adorable, lovely children. Wonderful stuff.

    Favourite thing about Autumn? Pumpkin curry and apple pie :)

  22. I love everything about fall! Sweaters, boots, the leaves changing, making soup, cuddling with my honey on a cool night. It is by far my favorite season of the year!

  23. I love apple picking and the cool fall air. We recenlty finished our patio and put in a fire pit so it’s been nice sitting around a cozy fire when its cool at night.

  24. If I don’t win this book I am putting it on my list. I am currently reading The Raw Food Perspective. This by the way is an interesting book.

    Fall means pulling out the blankets and cuddling on the couch with your boyfriend and watching a good movie while sipping on hot chocolate.

  25. I love everything about fall–cooler weather, football, apples, pumpkins, afternoon strolls to get coffee–you name it!

  26. My favorite thing about fall is seeing the leaves changing. I grew up in FL. We don’t have much change…the palm trees are always green. Seeing, the leaves change and feeling the cool air really sets the stage for winter.

  27. Oh, and I now live in Virginia- hence the leaves changing.

  28. My favorite thing about the fall is definitely the foliage! I’m from the Northeast and I feel fortunate to come from a place that gets to experience all of the four beautiful seasons. When the leaves begin to change color and fall from the trees.. it’s truly the most magnificant sight!

  29. Mm, I always love seeing your breakfasts. They look so delicious and inspire me to have fun with my breakfasts.

    Hot food in sweater weather, beautiful colored leaves (and crunching on them!), and of course the boots and coats :)!

  30. I love the smell of cold early mornings in the fall. It’s so crisp and earthy!

  31. I’ve been dying to read this book! I’m on a big Kingsolver kick right now – I just finished her first novel The Bean Trees and I’m currently reading her latest The Lacuna. She’s so fabulous.

    My favorite thing about Fall is, of course, FOOTBALL!

  32. my fave thing about fall? PUMPKIN!!!

  33. My favorite thing about fall is the folliage. Having spent most of my life in CA, the colors in the Northeast are spectacular!

  34. My favorite thing about fall is PUMPKIN! Seriously, I love fall for one reason and one reason only and that is the pumpkin. ;)

  35. Mmm pumpkin oatmeal is perfect!! No shame in having it day after day :)

    My favorite thing about Fall is definitely Thanksgiving. I usually don’t get to see my family between a few days in Summer and Fall break so it’s always nice. My mom and I cook up a FEAST!! Last year we had so many dishes we almost couldn’t fit the 4 of us around the table (and it’s a big table!). It’s a ton of fun spending time with family and spending all day..and sometimes the night the kitchen. My mom’s glad I love it so much :)

  36. My favorite thing about Fall is the cooler weather. I’m from the southwest where it’s hot 10 months out of the year. To walk outside on a Fall morning and breathe in that crisp, clean air is something I wait for year round.

    Then I go inside and bake pumpkin bread!! ;-)

  37. i enjoy living in an area of the country where we have beautiful fall colors and wonderful weather. i also love the food that comes with fall, it’s more comfort food than any other time of the year. but most of all, i love that it is football season :)!!

  38. My favorite thing about Fall is the crisp morning air accompanied by the red leaves on the trees that remind me that warm soups and baked squash get to be on the dinner menu soon!

  39. My favorite thing about fall is the weather/landscape. Well, I guess that’s two things… ;) I love the crisp, cool air and I love seeing the leaves change. Living in Iowa, I’m surrounded by corn fields, and I love the rustle of a corn field in the fall breeze. Nothing like it!


  40. Pumpkin is definitely my favorite thing about fall :)

  41. Myfavorite is walking around my neighborhood in the colorful, fallen leaves with my 2 Bichons. The leaves rustle against the sidewalks as they run fast and I follow behind, enjoying the cold weather and the hint of wood smoke in the air from one of the neighbor’s fireplaces. I just LOVE fall!

  42. I love fall flavors. And I especially love being outdoors in the fall. Ive been meaning to read this book for a while but its always checked out at the library!

  43. I’ve been wanting to read this book! My favorite thing about fall is probably the air – it’s such a relief when it turns from humid and sticky to fresh and crisp. And, of course, honeycrisp apples! :)

  44. Fall is my favorite season!! I love pumpkin, butternut squash, apples, cinnamon, cider, spice cake, pears, and so much more. When the leaves start to change, I try and go hiking every weekend to really enjoy the cool air and the leaves changing. I would love to win a copy of the book. I have read reviews and it sounds wonderful.

  45. Fall is my favorite season due to the changing colors of the leaves and cool crisp weather and the ability to wear comfy sweaters and boots! I also love being able to experience with different pumpkin pie recipes!!!

  46. This is on my list of books to read!!! :)
    Fall is my favorite time of year. When the weather turns oh so slightly I start to get the urge to cook comfort foods — chili, oatmeal with apples, soups, roasted veggies – just to name a few. Then there’s the changing colors and the smell in the air – mmmm. :) Oh, one of my most favorite things: long sleeve t-shirt, jeans & flip flops! Is that too many things that I love about fall?

  47. I have this book so I don’t need an entry. Just wanted to say that as I have been hearing everyone lament over the canned pumpkin shortage, I have been perfectly happy roasting my own! And to give you a tip, in case you don’t know, the stuff in the can is *not* actually what we look at and call “pumpkin.” It’s some other variety of winter squash. I’ve roasted sugar pumpkins, and honestly I don’t think they are all that tasty on their own, and the flesh is much more yellow than the orange variety in the can. So, I prefer to gather up any variety of delicious winter squash – butternut, buttercup, delicata, and maybe even a sugar pumpkin – and roast them up together and puree. This is what I use as my “pumpkin” and I swear it’s better than canned :)

  48. My favorite thing about Fall is the cooler temperatures that inspire me to fill my kitchen with warm and delicious things! A close second is football. :)

  49. That cook book looks amazing! I love so many things fall, but if I have to say one thing then I will say those early fall morning runs – love the crisp, cool air, smells of leaves, and the cruching under my feet. It is so refreshing!

  50. I can’t believe I still haven’t read this book. I walked around town today enjoying it for what it was and not worrying about where I wasn’t.

  51. I have been meaning to check this book out. so I love this giveaway.

    I love honeycrisp apples and pumpkins during this time of year!

  52. I’d have to say the flavors of fall are my favs!

  53. I own this book too, so don’t enter me, but I wanted to say how awesome it is!!

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