There are certain memories from autumn that I’ll cherish forever. Immediately coming to mind; my childhood escape into a good book on the weekends while lounging on the front porch with my gangly, awkward legs thrown over the arm rest of our swinging bench. Unaware of the time, I’d sit outside until the sun sank, completely absorbed in the action, drama and endless possibilities afforded to me through literature.
Eventually, my mom would call out the door to check on me. By her attempts to lure me back into reality with a snack, I think she was worried I might blow away with the leaves. Sharing a treat with my mom was definitely time well spent, even if I might have initially protested the interruption. Now as an adult, I know that eating together is a bonding experience that isn’t necessarily just about the food. I’d tell Mom all about the plot in my book-du-jour, which would eventually turn into her sharing something remarkable about herself that I would have never imagined – and vice versa!
Some of our favorite lazy-day snacks shared during those easy-breezy fall days were plates full of pumpkin muffins and big bowls of popcorn. One day, my mom pulled out all the stops and made a crazy-good cake made moist with carrots, apples, raisins and a medley of other seasonal ingredients. A slice of that cake reminded me of the ginger-haired heroine from the book on my lap, Anne of Anne of Green Gables. "I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn't it?” -- Anne Shirley I have to agree with Anne! October seems to be the centerpiece of fall, it’s no longer hot and it’s not yet cold. Fall is the colorful and fragrant grand finale of the year before it turns into the black and white of winter. When I look back on autumn and October in particular, I fondly think of orange, amber, cooler nights, longer shadows, the smell of cinnamon and nutmeg coming from the oven and warming hands and belly with a mug of apple cider. I also think of my reading retreats on the porch and carrot cakes and . . . connecting with my mom!
Out of nostalgia and to honor my mom, the changing seasons and my fictional friend, Anne, I created this heavenly and actually quite healthy recipe I’m calling Lower-Fat Caramel Apple Carrot Cake. Whipped up with the ripest produce, pecans and dripping with ooey-gooey (yet low fat) caramel, my layer cake is the personification of a warm and welcoming hug. I hope you get to enjoy a piece on your own porch, with your own beloved book and special family member at your side.