Fall

plums.jpgMy brother Brad and his wife Cynthia brought a giant bag of tree-ripened, sweet prune plums from their place in Hood River, Oregon down to Los Angeles recently.

I felt a bit of a pig, but I basically took all of the fruit – (they said there was more on the tree!) I redeemed myself though with a little lipstick, a great hors d’oeuvre and a wonderful tart for a family get-together.

Halved, pitted prune plums topped with a little goat cheese, chopped fresh marjoram, and a coarse grating of black pepper that are then wrapped in a piece of speck (like smoked Prosciutto) are delicious.

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arugulasoupThis past summer I've grown more arugula than I've known what to do with. This fall the arugula has been looking better than I ever expected. Lately I've been coming up with ways to use it all before the frost comes. But there's only so much raw arugula one can eat. So I've started cooking with it, making sautés and even soup. Most people would think that arugula is not for cooking, but in fact many European recipes use arugula. In Italy, arugula is enjoyed in pasta dishes and on pizzas. It can also be made into a very flavorful pesto that can be used in pasta or spread on sandwiches. There's a lot more to arugula than salad.

This soup features the pungent and peppery flavor of arugula. A rind of Parmesan cooked into the soup adds salty flavor. The mascarpone cheese stirred in toward the end enrichens the texture of the soup. Since arugula has a tendency to become stringy when cooked, the soup is best puréed until silky smooth. Serve the soup with grated Parmesan and a drizzle of fruity olive oil to complement the flavor of the leafy green. It's great enjoyed as an appetizer soup or even a simple dinner when paired with crusty bread. There's no better time to grow arugula and enjoy this soup than the chilly months of autumn.

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falldinnerI’m not a big hunter. My brother-in-law, cousins, uncle and friends make up for my lack of time spent in a deer stand or duck blind… But, I do love camo – it is surprisingly chic mixed with denim and I’ve seen it sported fashionably (albeit unknowingly) by many a gentleman in The South… and even a lady or two.

As hunting season waxes down here, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a favorite fall dish – my Camo Pasta. This pasta, mixed with Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale and mushrooms is about as fatigue-fashioned as they come. Even the whole wheat noodles join in the camo color scheme.

All melded together, this combo makes for a delicious fall supper and I even love it better the next day – which so many things find themselves better. It is better the next day in my leather chair and Netflix binge-watching… which is where you’ll find me enjoying this dish over the deer stand I’m afraid - ha! 

Here’s to autumn, its colors and hues and flavors – all mixed together in a pasta dish ready for the hunt. Add wild game or chicken or shrimp to your liking. Enjoy y’all!

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poms_lg.jpg My mother had a way of inventing traditions.  “It’s Lizzie’s birthday!” she’d proclaim periodically and everyone in the family would don a party hat and dog.jpgsing happy birthday to one of our English Springer Spaniels.  The announcement of the dog’s birth and subsequent celebration of it could occur at any time – on April 5, say, or December 12.  It could happen twice a year or once every few years.  But however haphazard, it became a tradition. 

Every so often, we’d gather in the living room; my father on the bongo drums someone had given him for a birthday present, my sister on her recorder, me banging the big copper-bottomed soup pot with a wooden spoon, and my mother on piano, playing from our “American Folk Songs For Piano” songbook.  “Love oh love oh careless love,” she’d sing, entirely off-key, “Love oh love oh careless love, love oh love oh careless love, see what love has done to me.”

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pickledbeets_003.jpgDo you remember how a peanut butter sandwich always tasted better when your mom made it? Just a couple of slices of bread sandwiching peanut butter. I’d make my own sandwich and it just never tasted as good as the one mom made for me.

Well, that’s what happened with the beets I pickled yesterday. They taste fine, but just not the same as the beets my mom or my mother-in-law used to make. Since I didn’t have a recipe from my mother-in-law, I looked in my mom’s recipe file and found the one she must have used. Although she cheated just a bit and used beets in a can from the grocery store, I used the recipe for the brine she made.

The beets I cooked, peeled and heated in a brine were fresh from the farmers’ market. Just as I remembered from the time my mother-in-law showed me how to make pickled beets, my hands were stained a pretty shade of red by the time I was finished peeling the beets.

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