The changing seasons seem to give me a little extra energy. Whether spring thaw or end-of-summer cooling, that atmospheric adjustment reminds me that things are happening, time is passing, and I need to pay attention and stay on top of things. (Especially things like planning Thanksgiving turkey presales and our next two particularly decadent Food School workshops. More on those in the coming weeks!)
It's especially important to keep an eye on local produce as we creep inevitably towards fall and the autumnal equinox (5 more days!). Make plans to do that last bit of preserving -- peach butter, perhaps? frozen sweet corn? -- and start thinking about your favorite soup recipes and things to do with apples.
In the interest of your meal plans and shopping lists -- two tools I almost never use but come in handy, or so I'm told -- here are this week's highlights broken down by what's outgoing and what's incoming.
SO LONG: Be sure to catch peaches and nectarines in what will probably be their last week in season (we're working on finding some for next week too, but don't say we didn't warn you). I'm canning some whole and adore the aforementioned peach butter -- here's how you can make it in a slow cooker. Italian Blue Plums are in for a short while; put them up whole or feature them in a cake. Sweet corn is still in but not long for this world, and lima beans are still here -- get one last batch of succotash in while you can.
Our stash of cherry and heirloom tomatoes is dwindling, but we anticipate red slicers for a few more weeks -- and as usual, we'll stock greenhouse-grown hydroponic tomatoes through fall and winter. Also dwindling are watermelons and cantaloupes: Get them before they're gone!
HI THERE: New goodies for fall make up for fading summer items: Grab kiwiberries -- the grape-sized fruit of a vine that tastes just like the larger, fuzzy variety - from our cooler during their short season, and take advantage of the truly excellent Bartlett pears that Beechwood Orchards is bringing us right now. (Let them sit on your counter for a few days -- when the skin yields to gentle pressure and they've turned a bit yellow, they should be ripe and juicy.) Sweet potatoes in all colors and sizes are in, as are some unique, hardy radishes: nero tondo (aka Spanish black radishes) and watermelon (aka red meat radishes). They're amazing in slaw, salad, or tacos.
Fresh ginger from our friends at Blue Moon Acres is still going strong -- I recommend buying up a good-sized stash and storing in a plastic bag in your freezer to break off and use as needed throughout the winter. And mouse melons (AKA Mexican sour gherkins) can be used as you would cucumbers -- they're related, after all. Make a quick pickle with them, throw them in salad, eat them as a snack -- they can even garnish your martini.
And speaking of the changing seasons, the transition from summer to fall is a great time to pick up a wedge of Equinox from Birchrun Hills Farm -- this young, Alpine-style cheese has a smooth, nutty flavor, with notes of caramel. It's perfect served alongside the summer's last peaches or slices of honeycrisp apples.