September Lunch Date - Skillful Cook
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September Lunch Date

hand holding a spoon in a bowl of soup

Guys! It's September, and I love lunch dates, so this post is gonna be just like we're having lunch together. Sitting outside, maybe? 60 degrees and sunny? Wearing boots and flannels and watching the leaves fall as we eat our tomato soup with whole-grainy grilled cheese croutons?

I like this already.

We have lots to talk about today, because September is basically the best ever, amiright?

dog laying on a blanket on a couch

Exactly, Sage. 👆🏼Exaaaactly.


I totally love summer. Summer is my spirit season. I love to be warm, I love the sun, and if spending every day of my life in the water laying on a flamingo floaty sipping a watermelon smoothie was a career option, you might never see me again.


Fall has something on summer that is worth possibly more than the warm-and-sun-and-water combo. Fall is my FOOD SEASON. After months of feeling like cooking shouldn't take more than 5 minutes ever (summer at its best), I find myself suddenly wanting to stand in front of 15 pots of soup, stirring here and there, in between baking batches of bread to go along with it, and all the better if it takes all day. Dreamy though.

Yesterday I had a chance to make the first of my fall cooking dreams come true. It was 60 degrees and sunny, so I left the windows open and put on some nice relaxing music and lit a candle (more on candles in just a second). I was having a hot craving for tomato soup and grilled cheese, so I busted out all the stops to make my favorite homemade tomato soup which includes frying up some little bits of bacon with onions and garlic and carrots and OH MY LANTA, the house! the house smelled amazing: smokey and earthy and crisp, like exactly what fall should smell like.

I love to try new recipes and I am very excited about the new recipe posts that are yet to come this fall. But you guys, don't you sometimes just want to make your old favorites all over again? Agh. Just totally the best. I am feeling so nostalgic for all my fall foods this year, so here are the favorite fall recipes that are on my meal plan for September:

Currently Loving

lake sunset

It seems almost too basic, but we are currently really loving our lake walks. Fall walks are not the same as the warm and well-lit summer walks but they have a chilly, cozy magic all their own. The days are getting colder and shorter - it's dark by 8pm now, and yesterday I had to wear not one but TWO long sleeved layers for the quick two-mile jaunt around the lake. That's the strangeness of life - that in the middle of summer, you can't really imagine yourself ever needing to wear anything other than shorts and a t-shirt, but then one day, out of the blue, there you are: wearing jeans and thick socks and a sweatshirt with a long sleeved shirt under, and you're pulling the long edges of your sweatshirt sleeves over your hands to stay warm and wishing you would have worn a hat. LIFE, man. It's strange and wonderful. Some people roll their eyes when Midwesterners talk about loving the change of seasons. But honestly: I LOVE THE CHANGE OF SEASONS. It breathes new life and energy into the mundane day-to-day of our normal routines.

Also currently loving: CANDLES! Tis the season for a little flickering glow on the mantel or the kitchen counter as the sun sets for the day. Here's my dilemma. I'm trying to clean up my home and beauty situation - like low or no chemicals, toxins, that sort of thing. I've made a lot of the easy swaps already - like dryer balls for dryer sheets and Norwex water-only cleaning cloths for bleachy cleaning supplies, but dang Gina, puhhhlease NOT MY CANDLES. I've been looking for something that is clean-burning and scented but not overly scented. Like, naturally scented? Is that a thing? Except I'd like it to smell like a pumpkin pie oatmeal cookie cider spice latte. They can naturally scent that, right?

Kidding, sort of. I know some of you are experts on clean living and I would love your clean candle recs.

On the cooking front, I'm loving our red Lodge Dutch Oven, which I've mentioned only about 800 times on this blog. It is home to all the soups that are happening in this little kitchen this fall, and it couldn't be cuter. I'm also loving (still, more than a year after buying it) my Saveur cookbook called The New Classics. It's just the best, you guys. I've made so many recipes out of it - like, at least 30, which is A LOT for me and a cookbook - and they're all winners. For some reason, I associate this book with fall, so I'm currently re-falling in love with it all over again. PUN!

It's been so fun this month to be cooking and working together with a real live team for POY content and workshops. This is a picture of Alana (video guru) and Krista (our new shoot assistant) working on some videos, like they do. Secret tip: working with people makes this blogging thing a whole lot more enjoyable, and these two are just phenom. The videos? Have you seen them? All credit to Krista for the swift cooking hands and Alana for the video wizardry. We have the best girl-power team (+ Bjork, our v important non-girl member) and I'm so very grateful for all the hands - literally - that helps us continue to be able to do what we do. We're working on a new About page so you can get to know our team even better. Teamwork makes the dream work! ✨ <- file under phrases you will hear when you go on a lunch date with me. You're welcome.

women filming a food video

One more fun kitchen thing?

WE GOT A TEAL SMEG FRIDGE. ♡ It lives at the studio, tucked up against a brick wall, and it's so adorable, I can hardly stand it. I know it's been a looooong time, but we should finally have the finished studio pictures to share with you sometime this month or next! It's *thisclose* to done. And I haven't been a perfectionist about it at all. ...Promise.

industrial kitchen

Capsule Wardrobe

It's that time again!

I sort of half-heartedly capsuled my way through summer, which basically means I wore the same two shorts and three t-shirts and my flip flops from 12 years ago for the entire three months of warm weather. It was not amazing.

I am so ready to get my capsule game back on point.

clothes laying out on a bed

Luckily, I have a renewed energy for things like this in the fall, so we are capsuling once again. Since I started this whole capsule wardrobe situation last fall, I have most of what I need already and I will probably just give it a boost with a new pair of booties or a few new tops.

Do you fashionistas have any recommendations on shops or specific fall boots / scarves / sweaters you are loving? I mostly always shop at the Loft / Lou and Grey, Express, Athleta, and Macy's every once in a while, but I would love for you to hold my hand and walk me through a virtual mall of expanded options.


September Lunch Date

Hey, remember audiobooks? They are back, they are cool, and they are LYFE. I listen to audiobooks every day on my 20-minute commute to the studio and I can crush books at an absolutely ridiculous rate - like one per week. YOU GUYS. This is literally life-changing for me.

On the logistical side, I use Audible for paid audiobooks and OverDrive for borrowed - aka free - audiobooks from the library. I keep track of all of my read or want-to-read books like a Type A Bookworm in a supergreat app called Goodreads.

Current favorite (audio)books have been Bloom by Kelle Hampton (cried like a baby basically the whole way through it - so beautiful and incredibly moving) and Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. If you are a human being who lives in the world, I'd highly recommend Present Over Perfect. I think her message is so timely and necessary and literally life-saving for so many of us right now - trading in the hustle for more rest, peace, and life.

Travel Tips Wanted

Alright, last thing I wanted to talk about before we wrap up: WE ARE GOING TO EUROPE! Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh! I studied abroad in Spain for a few months during college, but Bjork and I have never been to Europe together, so for the first time, we are headed to Southern France, Switzerland, Southern Germany, and possibly London for a two-week adventure later this fall.

Here's why I'm mentioning this -> I would LOVE love love your help in planning this trip! Probably worth mentioning that our time in Southern France is already pretty scheduled out since we'll be jumping on board a river cruise (don't mind us being all proper and adult over here?!?!!) for a good portion of that time, but we have a lot of flexibility with the rest of the trip and we know zero things about what to do in each of these places.

What are the must-see cities? Foods to try? Landmarks to hit? You guys never disappoint when it comes to travel info, so I am supes excited to hear back from you on this one.

Also if you have travel tips in general - like, for example, apps that will help us get organized and make sure we don't miss any trains or boats or flights? - that would be amazing to the max.

dog sitting next to a computer on a couch

umm, hi 👆🏼

Sage has been waiting very patiently right here, right next to me, during this entire post (this is my dog's actual real life) and now she wants to know - what's on your mind this September? How are things going in your corner of the world?

I'm a big fan of this lunch date thing. XO

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    This is such a great recap! Fall is totally my food season too so I hear you on that one haha. Congrats on your upcoming trip! That’s going to be so amazing. I actually studied abroad in London recently so I can give you some good tips! I want to give it some thought though and get back to you so be on the lookout for a follow up comment or email 🙂

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    Sounds like we capsuled exactly the same way all summer long. Fall clothes are my favorite clothes, though. I’m being very intentional about what I’m bringing in. Black, olive green, burgundy–these are my autumn colors.

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    sorry can’t help on the european travel front, but if you’re still looking for natural candle recs, I love Big Dipper candles. They are made of natural beeswax and have scented options which are made with essential oils. Totally natural and healthy. 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I was wondering about them! I found them on Amazon last night – I will have to give them a try. Thanks for the rec Emily!

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    i always burn beeswax candles. they are the best for you! they release zero toxins and actually purify the air by releasing negative ions!

    they never smell like anything other than beeswax though!

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    If you’re looking for an eco-friendly candle AND want to stay local, check out Frostbeard Studios. They’re soy candles with scents that are inspired by books (like ‘the shire’ and ‘old books’), and they’re based in Minneapolis.

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’m on the same hunt for good smelling (but not so toxic) fall candles! Living in CA, sometimes we have to create our own change of seasons since the weather largely stays the same the whole year round. Candles definitely help! Going to follow this comment thread so I can see everyone’s recommendations!

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Your tomato soup looks amazing! I have never made tomato soup, but love that it’s simple. I love making soups because they are pretty easy in general and with 3 almost 4 kids, simple is really important. I have to share my butter bean soup because it so good and of course fairly simple since I make it in the slow cooker.
    I have been to Germany and Switzerland, but my father-in-law (who plans European tours every year) did all of the planning so I wasn’t involved in that aspect and we were visiting villages my husband’s family came from. I can tell you this. Switzerland is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. I would spend some time there and if you can visit the countryside and small towns, do it.

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    So good to sit down and enjoy our lunch! 😉 Sounds like you have a wonderful fall planned, how fun! No advice for Europe, just wanted to share we are getting ready for a New Mexico road trip! Can’t wait to go to the Farmer’s Market on a Saturday morning to enjoy the smell of roasted chilies and all the yummy treats!

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks for lunch girl, let’s do it again soon! 😂 Ok I have to ask and hopefully you or one of your team can tell me because I MUST HAVE ONE – what is that contraption that allows you to view what the camera is seeing from above right at eye level in the video shoot photo??? Is it an app for an iPad mini or an actual screen you purchase?? This avoids the tethering and viewing on my mac from 6 feet away situation and having to move back and forth 1,294,001 times!!!! Someone please advise so I can order it asap!!! Also if your amazing team starts offering video courses in your studio I will attend FO SHO – please make that happen sooooooon!!!!! THAT FRIDGE THO.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Yes! It’s a monitor that attaches to the camera so we can watch what we’re doing – it’s so amazing. I will get Alana to drop you a link for the one that we use! 🙂 And video workshops are in the idea bank for 2017 – stay tuned!!

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    Really wanting some tomato soup now, and grilled cheese croutons! Please tell me you have a recipe for those, too! Or do you just cut up your sandwich and throw it in? Sounds heavenly.

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    Love every one of the recipes you have linked! That chicken wild rice is amazing and one of my go to comfort meals. Excited to see the progress on your studio too.

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    So jealous! It’s still 90 here. I spend all of summer wishing it was any other season. I do love the apples in the fall and I will eat soup and pretend it’s not sweltering out.

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    Great food, European adventure, whatever. All I know is Sage is the most adorable, snuggly, lovable-looking pooch ever. (And I am lucky to have adopted a girl who pretty much ties in that department so I But also, you take really awesome pictures of her. I’d be totally happy with a Sage only post.

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    We just got back from our second trip to Munich! Bavaria is magical, and you really see German folks walking around in dirndls and leiderhosen at the biergarten! We loved the BMW factory tour (and I couldn’t care less about cars!), the Hofbrauhaus (which gives you the Oktoberfest feel without the puking college kids) and the schmalznudel at Cafe Frischhut (beignet-ish fried dough). And if you’re open to some depressing history while you’re there, we spent a day in Dachau and took a 2.5-hour walking tour of Third Reich history — HIGHLY recommend both, but I know that’s not everyone’s vacation vibe. Finally, if you have an entire day to spend outside Munich, Neuschwanstein castle and the German Alps are just plain perfect. It sounds like a fabulous trip, no matter where you end up! Happy planning!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      This comment is amazing – thank you so much! And I am glad you mentioned Dachau – it’s one of the places on our list.

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    Two must sees in that area of Europe, in my opinion, are Neuschwanstein castle in Germany and Hungerburg in Innsbruck, Austria. You take the funicular to the top of the Alps and it’s just gorgeous. Super cute little village part way up where we had the best spaetzle. Don’t miss it!! 🙂

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’m so jealous that you can officially say hello Fall! Here in Phoenix we are still at 110 during the day. Early morning is gorg but soon becomes hot. But, I’ll stop my complaining here because we do have some gorgeous winters and springs. I love, love, love homemade tomato soup too!!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      You sure do have the best winters and springs. 🙂 I know because I go there sometimes to visit my grandparents and I am always like: WHY DON’T I LIVE HERE.

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    Oh! By the way. I just found epantry where you can buy natural cleaning products. I love Mrs. Meyers multipurpose cleaning spray! Smells sooo good!

  18. Skillful Cook Logo

    I just found your blog and I am already OBSESSED! I can’t WAIT to make this tomato soup. It looks to DIE for! (I just realized I typed way too many words in caps… no shame.) I, like you, am super excited for Fall. I wanted to share with you the most amazing booties to add to your collection – They’re from Madewell, a tad pricey, but 10000% worth it. The leather is soft and the heel is just the right height and thickness so your feet aren’t aching after wearing them all day! (here’s a link!) I look forward to reading more of your recipes and blog posts!! 🙂 🙂 -Cheers from Boston

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I love it! Thanks Anna – this is so great. I’ve been wanting to check out Madewell! Never bought anything from them before.

  19. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks for this lunch date, Lindsay! I, too, am a Type A bookworm who loves Goodreads and Overdrive. And food. And fall in Minneapolis. I’m pretty sure we’re the same sometimes. : )

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Love it! I need to hit up Old Navy this year – it’s a store that I always forget about since it’s not in our mall here.

  20. Skillful Cook Logo

    Yay! Trip to Europe! Native New Yorker here, but living in London for the past 10 years and prior to that Bavaria & Upper Austria 🙂 First London – Borough Market is a must for any foodie, just go as early as possible before the crowds and make sure you get a Scotch Egg – there are various stalls selling them and they are always good. I also always take my guests on a river cruise along the Thames. I start at Westminster Pier and go all the way to Greenwich. It is about £13 each for a RT. It is a nice way to see the city and there is a bar on board, so a perfect opportunity for some vino! In terms of restaurants I always recommend the following: Polpo (Italian tapas), Rock, Sole & Plaice (Fish & Chips), Dishoom (Bombay Street Cafe). There are LOADS more and I eat out tons, so if you are looking for any specific then let me know and I make more recommendations. Now onto S. Germany, I agree with the others that Neuschwanstein Castle is a must. German food is totally underrated. Admittedly it is VERY heavy, but often very comforting. Standout specialty dishes that you HAVE to try are kasespatzle (cheesy tiny dumplings with crispy fried onion on top), knoedl mit ei (bread dumpling sliced and fried with onion and egg), schnitzle, any type of sausage, but especially Weisswurst (always with senf – a german mustard), and the amazing variety of wheat beers. Bienenstich cake (honey, cream, almond cake)…. the list is endless really! Greet everyone with “Gruess Gott” and they’ll love you! You guys are going to have so much fun!!

  21. Skillful Cook Logo

    O MY! September is my favorite too— birthday month, and anniversary month (tomorrow!). Dave and I went to Germany (Bavaria specifically) and Austria for our honeymoon four years ago for the real Oktoberfest. I highly recommend getting a multi-country pass via first-class train if you want to see the country side. If you want fast, I believe flying RYAN AIR is one of the cheapest/fastest options between countries. I am not sure about how all that may work now with Britain exiting the EU, etc… Also, make you bring travel wallets that go around your neck and tuck under your shirt, and a European adapter for charging your electronics. I LOVED taking my Rick Steves books along, and relied on them for invaluable information especially since WIFI was not as readily available as we had hoped. Most people in the big cities spoke English, even if we tried our best German! We also used Air B&B and it worked out great. Um….what else—you may want to talk to your cel carrier about turning on international roaming/internet, but do this several weeks in advance. I did not have mine turned on in time. Womp womp. My favorite part about Europe besides the history, culture, and of course food, was the people. We encountered some great people and consider ourselves lucky and blessed. Have FUN! It’s so worth it! If I think of anything else, I’ll let you know!

  22. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thank you for our lunch date Lindsey! The soup was devine, and wine (was that rose?) devine, your pooch is adorbs – Love him, so cute and cozy and sweet waiting for you. And guess what, I am right now, at this moment finishing a huge closet clean out of my own!! I’m capsuling!! I follow a great blog, “Be More with Less” and have been thinking about pairing down for about a year now. I really went for it this time and it feels great! I remember reading Your post about How to Start a Capsule Wardrobe – I’m so glad you brought it up again. I went back and re-read that post of yours. So great! I love the simple strategies you have and that there are ‘no rules’, that works for me 😉 Keep ’em comin’!

  23. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hey Lindsay, my number one overseas travel tip is to get a Charles Schwab debit card account. When you visit ATMs, if the ATM would charge you, Charles Schwab reimburses it. And no extra exchange fees. So you can get money out of an ATM as needed. Check it out! So happy for you and your travels!