Fall

brusselslemonsFall produce isn't just about pumpkins and squash, which is what most people assume. Other vegetables, too, reach their prime in the fall. Right now you'll find a host of cabbages in season, including the entire family—cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, which are my personal favorite. These mini cabbages are so adorable—I just wish more people liked them.

When it comes down to it, you either know how to cook Brussels sprouts or you don't. Those that don't know how to cook them ruin it for everyone else. A pot of over-boiled sprouts never could make anyone like the vegetable (kids liken the smell to stinky feet). The correct cooking method is key to coaxing out the natural sweet flavor of sprouts. No other method can do that better than roasting.

The simplest way to prepare sprouts for roasting is to toss them with oil, salt, and pepper. Then just roast until tender, about 25 minutes. You can customize the basic recipe to suit your own tastes, e.g. add some herbs or vinegar or even lemon juice. For this recipe I utilize preserved lemons I made earlier in the year. Thin slices of the lemon rind along with some of the briny juice give this dish a noteworthy zip. You will love sprouts prepared this way.

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porkapplesPork and apples go hand in hand, don't they? That image of a whole spit-roasted pig comes to mind with the apple stuck in its mouth. There is something special about the sweet taste of apples and the full flavor of pork that work so well together in a dish. Roasting the pork and apples together is the perfect way to marry the two flavors. That's exactly what I do in this pork roast recipe, which is flavored with honey, mustard, and rosemary. For this perfect flavor pairing, I roast tiny lady apples alongside the pork.

For a roast like this, pork tenderloin is the easiest to prepare and the most flavorful and moist. It's lean, roasts fast, and it stays tender, just as the name would suggest. The juices that collect in the pan go into the making of a gravy that has the flavor of the honey-Dijon rub, the rosemary, and the sweet apple juices. The rosemary sprigs that roast alongside the loins become crispy and are entirely edible, lending bursts of woddsy flavor to each bite. A meal such as this would be great for an elegant holiday dinner or even a simple Sunday supper.

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Image

How in this sweet
aftermath of everything the mind
should settle on plums

Geri Doran
“Blue Plums”

If poetry is all about the image, then it’s understandable why so many poets have written about food. Writing about food is like writing about a lover. The poet can—and does, joyously—explore all the senses. In “I Chop Some Parsley While Listening to Art Blakey’s Version of ‘Three Blind Mice,’” Billy Collins raises dicing herbs and vegetables while listening to jazz to a whole new level of food prep. Last semester, a student’s poem about warm pita and honey inspired my class to have a party where we drank tea and prepared and ate the subject of her poem.

Of all the food groups, however, it is fruit that has inspired the greatest outpouring. What better object to evoke sensations of sweetness and succulence? What better metaphor for the body? What better metaphor for the pleasures of poetry itself? Diane Wakoski’s “Ode to a Lebanese Crock of Olives,” one of her many food poems and a veritable cornucopia of shimmering ingredients, spills over to include “the gold of lemons” and “the still life of grapes.” In “A Step Away From Them,’ Frank O’Hara’s lunch includes “a glass of papaya juice.” That’s the “lunch poem” that ends with the lines “My heart is in my / pocket, it is Poems by Pierre Reverdy,”

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applecrispDespite the warm weather we’ve been enjoying in Southern California, a recent trip to my local grocery store reminded me that fall is here – pyramid-like mounds of pumpkins filled the entrance, flanked by bins of apples of every variety.

Although apples are available all year, they are particularly sweet and delicious this time of year. I generally mark apple picking season with a home-baked double crust pie, but some people still find it a daunting task. If you’re one of them, make apple crisp your signature fall dish.

This is one of my favorite recipes because it produces a thicker layer of “crisp” – which frankly is the best part. The chewy, buttery, caramel flavored brown sugar oatmeal laced layer compliments the apples perfectly. Choose a variety of apples from your local growers – and try to choose organic.

The average conventionally grown apple has more pesticide residue on it than any other fruit or vegetable. According to the Environmental Working Group‘s analysis of USDA data, “pesticides showed up on 98 percent of the more than 700 apple samples tested (yes, they were washed).”

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sausage-soup.jpgThis soup, along with a green salad and some nice bread, is a great dinner for a chilly night.  This soup is loaded with sausage, beans and ditalini pasta.  It's really a pretty traditional "Pasta e Fagioli" soup, but with sausage. I've made the soup with turkey sausage, but you can use any sausage you like.  

I've used dried beans to make the soup.  You can certainly use canned, but if you've never cooked with dried beans, you should try it.  Some people are confused about dried beans and don't know how to soak them and cook them.  But there really is no mystery to it at all – it's very easy.  Soaking simply softens the beans so that they have a shorter cooking time. That's all.

And you don't really even have to soak them.  If you forget to soak them, simply cook them longer. I just throw the beans in a pot and cover them with water and let them soak all day. I drain them, add fresh water and then cook them until they are tender. That's it.

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