Fall

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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baked-sweet-potato.jpgI fell in love on February 1, 2009. Two days later we got into our first and only fight. About root vegetables, specifically yams.

Before I continue I should say that I consider myself well versed in the subject. For six months in high school, I refused to eat anything but yams for dinner. Baked yams with butter. Baked yams with bananas. Yam fries. Boiled yams. Mashed yams. My mom could have thought my behavior toddler-esque the kind of thing my three-year-old cousin does “I no eat green things.” But my mom doesn’t know how to cook. So for her, my phase turned out to be pretty convenient. Poke some holes in it. Pop it in the oven. Forty minutes later, kid’s fed.

I grew out of the yam craze around the time I started making out with younger boys and failing AP Calculus exams. I have no idea if the two are related.

The point is. Yams and I have a history.

Cut to five years later.

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BUNDTS spotato2I always look forward to Thanksgiving. Sharing the holday with my family, extended family, and a handful of friends. Each year, my sister-in-law and I alternate with hosting it. I do like having it my house because it makes me organize my clutter, clean where I wouldn’t normally clean, and repair whatever seems to be broken at the moment.

This year I will be a guest. Yet, I am not off the hook with contributing to the meal. Volunteering to make Rustic Herb Stuffing, Cranberry-Raspberry Relish, Pecan Pie, and a delicious Sweet Potato Casserole with a Pecan Crumble.  YUM!  The rest of the meal was equally delicious; roast turkey, roasted brussel sprouts, butternut squash soup, carmelized string beans with hazelnuts, and the list goes on.

For the Sweet Potato Casserole, I had roasted way too many sweet potatoes and after peeling and ricing them I realized I had gone a bit overboard. With left overs on hand, I was inspired to create something new. In the past, I have made muffins, waffles, and pancakes, but today I chose to make a pound cake.

Using pantry staples, I whipped up the batter in minutes and made 6 mini bundts and 2 small loaves. This cake is so light and airy and down right delicious. To date, this is one of my favorites.

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squashNot every day is a winner in a food writer’s test kitchen. In fact, yesterday was kind of a stinker, if I’m really to be honest. I made some stuffed winter squash which was just—not good. I’ll spare you the details about the stuffing, but I have to tell you, the most frustrating thing was this: The squash were under-ripe. And so, as beautiful as they were raw, the squash were fibrous and bland when cooked. I know—I’m really making you salivate, now, huh?

I more or less suspected this was the case when I picked the squash before  I had solved this dilemma of “how do you tell when winter squash is ripe?” I know, I am supposed to be a vegetable expert. So I should definitely be hanged (or maybe something less dramatic) for continuing to cook the squash once I cut it open and started digging the seeds out of the hard, pale flesh.

I knew for sure then that the squash (especially the Delicatas) were under-ripe. (You’ve probably had this experience with a slightly green butternut squash you’ve bought at the market.) The thing is, in the gardening department, I’m still a neophyte, and try as I might, I haven’t been able to get a straight answer from other gardeners on how to tell when my stripey Carnival and Delicata squash are ripe.

I’ve been told to wait for the stems to wither and dry up on the vine (uh-oh, I am not that patient),  and I’ve been told to look for a good spot of orange color on the underside. But I am beginning to suspect that it is, in fact, a color issue.

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sausagesandpears.jpgSometimes the story behind a given dish is complicated. This is one of those recipes, though the recipe is is easy as can be. I'm particularly proud of it because it's rather original and I got a number of compliments on it and even a couple of requests for the recipe.

It's spicy fennel flavored Italian sausages roasted with vinegar-marinated pears and onions. The resulting dish has spicy, savory and sweet flavors and can be made for as many or as few people as you like. It's a perfect dish for Fall.

It represents my favorite type of recipe because it takes very little time, few ingredients and techniques but yields something absolutely delicious. I think you could call it foolproof. It can also be varied pretty easily – add other fruit, seasonings, vegetables, or different kinds of sausages.

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