Fall

SpicedPersimmonBreadI've never really gotten into making bread. I do it occasionally, but it's not my passion. When I want to bake something I usually don't have much patience so quick breads are more my style.

There are lots of great quick breads. Two of my favorites are banana bread and persimmon bread. They each use very ripe or over ripe versions of the fresh fruit. For persimmon bread you want to use the Hachiya variety. The Fuyu is rounder shaped than the Hachiya and is a bit crunchy, good for using in salads, it has a pale orange color.

Fresh Hachiya persimmons are really extreme. Their color is almost shockingly bright orange and the texture is downright slimy. Though they are sweet there is sometimes a very bitter after taste to the raw fruit. They sound just awful, but actually they are quite delicious. And if you can't fathom eating them raw, you should really try them in bread because they are no longer bright orange, slimy or bitter. This recipe comes from a neighbor of my parents and is my favorite style of persimmon bread, rich, dark, spicy and almost like a firm pudding in texture.

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grilledplumsPlump, sweet, and juicy—these are the best-tasting plums. Late summer brings with it all the different types of plums—colors of white, black, red and shapes of round and oval. There are too many varieties to list here. And don't forget pluots, a cross between plums and apricots. I love to eat them fresh—and you know they're good when the juices run down your arm. But as you've seen by reading here, I also adore plums in simple, homey desserts.

Instead of the typical preparation, these plums are grilled. Grilling fruit is not a typical technique, but it's great for bringing out the flavor of fruit, especially when it's a bit underripe. Imagine pineapple slices, peaches, or nectarines on the grill. These fruits nicely caramelize, especially when they're brushed with a sugar mixture. And what goes better with warm fruit than ice cream? This is a dessert to savor spoonful by spoonful.

With just three ingredients, this recipe is almost a nonrecipe. Brush the plum halves with a mixture of sugar and butter that caramelizes on the grill. Serve with ice cream, like my lavender-crème fraîche ice cream, which lends a unique flavor to the dessert. Take the opportunity to grill some fruit before summer ends!

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All I can think about today is soup. This may be because I have too many vegetables crowding up the fridge. After another round of recipe development and a pre-hurricane sweep of the garden, I am left with the clear makings of minestrone—everything from a five-pound bag of carrots to three awkwardly space-hogging baby fennel bulbs. I have a big basket of winter squash I keep stumbling over in the pantry, and I have a little handful of green beans I just plucked off the dying vines this morning. I even have a few cranberry beans that are finally ready to harvest, from plants that miraculously show very little storm damage.

Our storm damage, in fact, was minimal. Had circumstances been different—if Sandy hadn’t taken a left turn when she did—we would likely be facing a very different winter here on the farm. Instead the hoop house is still standing, the animals are all fine, and in fact, we have another flock of laying hens due to arrive here this week (more on that soon). So thankfully, Roy is building—rather than rebuilding. Now, of course, I hear that a big Nor ‘Easter is coming up the coast this week. So maybe we are not out of the woods yet. But still. I can’t stop thinking about Staten Island and the Rockaways and Seaside Heights. All those folks still without power and nights getting really chilly. And lots of friends on the coast of Connecticut with serious flood damage. We did have plenty of coastal erosion up here on the Island and flooding in the lowest harbor areas in the towns, but most homes were safe and dry (and warm).

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squashquinoaI first heard of quinoa many years ago from a friend who was diagnosed with wheat sensitivity. Quinoa, which is the seed of a flowering plant, is related to spinach and beets. It is not a grain, but is treated like one in recipes. It is suitable for those who suffer from celiac disease and maintain a gluten-free diet. The pseudocereal, as it is officially termed, originates from the Andean region of South America. It was considered sacred in Incan society, second in importance to the potato, and followed by corn. The Spanish conquistadors disliked quinoa, suppressed its production, and it never gained popularity outside of South America.

What makes quinoa so special is that it is a complete protein with a full set of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. This especially made it nutritionally significant to pre-Colombian peoples. It continues to be important to vegetarians and vegans. Quinoa can be used in many ways and is available in different forms, including flour, flakes, and the whole seed. The flakes can be eaten like oatmeal or, when combined with flour, baked into cookies, quick breads, pancakes, and waffles. Whole quinoa comes in a few colors, but only two are available in the States, white and red, of which the red has more fiber. Whole quinoa can be cooked and eaten like rice and made into pilafs or stir-frys.

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pumpkinccmuffinsI love this time of year.  Temperatures are falling and the leaves are turning golden and orange.  It had been a tough year agriculture wise.  As harvest approaches next week, we are looking forward to making wine and enjoying the bounty of the season with so many of you who continue to make it all possible.

And who doesn't love the pumpkin recipes this time of year.  I know I do.  They are comforting to eat on these very cold days.

This one is particularly yummy and simple to make.  My husband and oldest son loved these.  Loved them.  Pumpkin and chocolate go remarkably well together.

Make these for your October and November get-togethers. They are a sure hit.

I love these baking cups, they are so much nicer and fancier looking than regular cupcake holders.  They are in the baking aisle at Walmart.

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