Fall Favorites

Baked Apples Close Up

Fall, glorious fall, is here. Credit the crisp mornings and blue sky days, but far more than spring or the start of a new year, these early fall days always symbolize a fresh start to me.  I can only attribute it to years of back to school conditioning, but I want to shine my shoes, sharpen my pencils, and get to work.  So in a slightly different post than what you typically find here on my blog, I thought I would fill you on how I’m celebrating the season.

Back in August, I planted my first fall garden.  Beets, green beans, carrots, radishes, collard greens, chard, lettuce, arugula, spinach, yellow squash, and Brussels sprouts have gone in over the past couple of months and I’m just starting to enjoy some of the harvest.   The highlight of the garden has certainly been these heirloom winter squash and small sugar pumpkins.   They have looped, twisted and sprawled their way down the driveway and across my lawn.   It’s wonderfully chaotic and I can only hint at my joy when I discovered the start of several different gourds this week.  I’m crossing my fingers they’ll be gracing my Thanksgiving table this year.  Pumpkin pie, anyone?

Pie Pumpkin

Speaking of gourds, I’ve wanted to bake a dish in a pumpkin for years now and this recipe from Dorie Greenspan is definitely on my list of new things to try this fall.   A blogger from LA Weekly drools over a version of this recipe and  describes it as “a soft, fluffy cheese strata with bacon baked inside a pumpkin.”  Ummm, yes please.

Spicy Refrigerator Pickles

On my bedside table, you’ll find Wilton Barnhardt’s novel Lookaway, Lookaway, but in my kitchen, it’s Mastering Fermentation by Mary Karlin that has me intrigued.  Whether it is kombucha, yogurt, pickles, or beer, fermented foods are the hot new thing.  A year or two ago I purchased Sandor Ellix Katz’s tome, The Art of Fermentation.  It’s a dense read that provides more than you ever wanted to know about fermentation, but is decidedly lacking in recipes.  Karlin’s book is the perfect complement with recipes for everything from kefir to pastrami all accompanied by beautiful photos.  It’s a keeper for sure and will keep my kitchen bubbling and full of desirable bacteria for months to come.

My bushel of apples

This week I’m teaching a week-long course on “Stocks and Sauces” at John C. Campbell Folk School in the North Carolina mountains.  I may have strategically timed this class to correspond to apple season.  You only need to click  here to  know how I feel about apples and I’ll certainly be coming down the mountain with a bushel (or two) next week.  From there, it will just be deciding what to make with them.  After all, how can one choose between apple and pumpkin muffins, apple pie, applesauce, and baked apples?

Butternut Squash and Pumpkin Soup

While it will be hard to get me out of the kitchen now that cooler temperatures have arrived and it just seems right to have something simmering on the stove, I am looking forward to hearing Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, speak at Queens University on October 10th.  If you live in the Queen City, tickets are still available here.  I hope to see you there.

Spicy Caramel Popcorn 2

And last, but not least, it wouldn’t be fall without football.   A disastrous start with my fantasy football team (Colin Kaepernick, please pull it together) means that I’m looking to the kitchen for a bit of distraction.  Asian hot wings, venison chili, and spicy caramel popcorn pair perfectly with a good football game.  Happy cooking!

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