orangejam.jpgI love Orange Marmalade—the sweet jam accented by the slightly bitter bits of rind is the perfect topping for buttered toast. My brother Brad used to keep me in a good supply of his tart homemade version, but now that he’s traded his orange grove in for a pear orchard, I’ve found myself wanting, and I set out to make my own.

I have a Morro Blood Orange tree in my garden, and I have made blood orange marmalade before. Of course I can’t remember how. So I looked at all sorts of recipes, and gee whiz, what a pain! Some call for boiling halved oranges, then soaking, then chopping. Some call for removing the peel with a peeler, then cutting away all the pith, then slicing the denuded oranges and then finally cooking—but I was looking at roughly 6 pounds of juicy fruit. I finally found one that seemed good: juice the oranges, thinly slice the peels—that I can handle, but then it called for wrapping all the seeds and membranes in 4 layers of cheesecloth and cooking the bundle along with the juice—forget it.

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brusselssproutsinsideIt happens every Sunday. Clamoring crowds jostle for space around the popular tables at the farmers’ market to check out the hip Meyer lemons, the chic wild arugula, and the sexy red strawberries (yes, we really did have fresh strawberries this past week).

Not so at the cruciferous vegetables table. There lie the Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbages, broccoli, and cauliflower (of which only the funky Romanesco variety is getting any attention). These uncomely vegetables patiently wait for someone to come by and check them out. It is a long wait.

This past Sunday the Brussels sprouts were carelessly dumped in a lop-sided pile, causing stray runaway sprouts to keep rolling off the table's edge and onto the concrete. Inspired by Molly’s witty post at Orangette, I thought I would take on a challenge. A makeover for three undatable vegetables: Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli. The make-up? Breadcrumbs.

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squashcomp1.jpgWhite acorn. Red Kuri. Turban. Carnival. Names as colorful as the squashes themselves. And if you’ll excuse me for saying this, sometimes they look as if they landed on earth from outer space. No offense meant towards other galactic life forces!

Welcome, winter squash.

A few years ago I made it a point to familiarize myself with these hefty gourds. Until that point they were only gorgeous table decorations to me (trés gay, I know I know), and also made nice ammo during food fights. Then butternuts became the popular choice and began showing up everywhere. I wasn’t complaining, I love the sweet, nutty mild flavor they bring to stews, soups and purees. But then I began to wonder about the others, and in time began to learn that even though they’re awkward, fugly, and heavy, they really are wonderful and delicious. I look forward to this time of year.

Unlike summer squashes with their soft, edible skins, winter varieties must be peeled and cooked. But it’s really easier than you think.

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ImageI'm not much of a coffee drinker but I love hot chocolate and I love tea. I enjoy the richness of hot chocolate, but sometimes it's a bit too much. I certainly couldn't drink it everyday. I have tried quite a few chocolate flavored teas and while some of them are pretty good, I've discovered a more satisfying solution. I make hot cocoa with equal parts tea and milk.

On the surface this might seem like a weird thing to do, combining cocoa and tea but it's really quite delicious. I learned from chocolate authority Alice Medrich that the fat in dairy products coats your tongue so the flavor of chocolate is sometimes muted in very creamy preparations. She said you can make cocoa with hot water, but I have found that tea provides an amazing addition of flavor. I like a little bit of milk to add some texture.

The result is a beverage that is richer and more viscous than tea and milk, but not quite as cloying as hot cocoa can be. In the Winter, I could drink it just about everyday!

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pompotatoesWith cookies and cocktails flying everywhere the last month, I almost forgot to share this recipe for Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Pomegranate Glaze. That would have been a shame because this dish, which I created a couple of months ago, has skyrocketed to the top of my go-to recipe list.

Creamy, sweet, red-fleshed Garnet sweet potatoes are roasted until caramelized then drizzled with a tangy honey and pomegranate glaze. Then they're dotted with ruby red pomegranate arils, toasted walnuts, and savory thyme for a highly textured, flavorful, and aromatic side dish.

Pomegranates are easy to find now due to their popularity at Christmas time. But don't delay, since their season usually runs from late October through the end of January.

I'm telling you, this is one side dish that can steal the show from an entree any night of the week.

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