The trick-or-treaters lucked out on Halloween this year. In a period of cooler than usual weather, a couple of warmer days allowed them to scurry from door to door and show off their costumes without bundling up in winter coats (as long as they carried umbrellas).

Fall came on quite suddenly this year, with high temperatures in the low 60s and mid to low 50s most days. Some nights left frost on the ground. That made for some spectacular foliage, which is always welcome.

The mid-term elections are coming up in just a few days. Regardless of the weather, I hope everyone who physically can plans to get out and wade through the fallen leaves to our polling places. This year, it seems everyone has an opinion, particularly about the candidates.

It’s important to put our votes where our rhetoric is. In other words, if you don’t cast your ballot, don’t gripe if things don’t go your way. The history of the United States shows centuries of citizens struggles to make our voices heard to elect those who govern the country, states and local municipalities. Your vote might make the difference in a close election. It’s been known to happen.

If kids can brave the rain and dark (not to mention “ghosties, ghoulies and things that go BUMP in the night”) for a sack of candy, their elders can certainly get out the vote for something far more important.

I wonder if we’ll get an Indian Summer. I always enjoy the reprieve of a few warm days before we go into several months of cold weather. It doesn’t seem too likely this year. I’ve already made the first fall pot roast, and warm soup has been tasting pretty good for a while now.

It’s time to break out the crockpot, instant cooker, or whatever else helps you to prepare so you can eat well on busy days.

I’ve really been enjoying a particular make ahead meal this fall. It goes together quickly, freezes well, and tastes so good on a chilly night, with or without that warm soup. Get busy and make some ahead. You’ll be glad you did.


1 package frozen pizza dough (or make your own)

1/2 pound lean sliced ham (and/or salami)

1/4 pound sliced pepperoni

1 pound fresh sliced Mozzarella or Provolone cheese

melted butter

dried oregano

dried basil

3/4 cup marinara sauce

Let dough rise, following directions on package. Cover lightly greased jelly roll pan with parchment paper. After dough rises, push it into the pan. Spread dough to all corners.

Place a single layer of ham lengthwise down center of dough all the way to the end. Leave 2 inches along sides uncovered. Cover ham with sliced pepperoni, then cheese.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Starting at one side, roll up dough jelly roll style. Seal edges. Leave stromboli seam side down. Brush with melted butter. Top with oregano and basil. Make shallow cuts about 1 1/2 inches apart in top of stromboli (to let steam escape).

Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and crusty. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving. Serve with marinara sauce for dipping.

Serves six to seven.

You can also use 3 cooked and crumbled Italian sausage links in place of the ham.

This can be made as a vegetarian dish, but avoid veggies that give off a lot of juice, such as tomatoes and uncooked mushrooms. They can make your dough mushy.