Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Apple Doesn't Fall Far...

Dear readers, you know that I love autumnal vegetables.  As you saw from my menu for the dinner party I hosted on Sunday, I've been going a little produce-mad: butternut squash, mushrooms, apples, and brussels sprouts all featured just in that one meal.  I don't know if you're as crazy about all of the delicious goodness as I am, but the thought that you might be lacking in inspiration for the bounty of the earth makes me very sad.

And so - drumroll please - I give you inspiration!  Behold the gloriousness.

(But first I want to preface the gloriousness with the disclaimed that, my love of Borough Market aside, I am not a food snob.  I mean, I am, but before I was a food snob I was a lazy so-and-so.  Therefore, while I do suggest that the Platonic ideal of a butternut squash is found at a farmers' market, having been trucked in fresh from the fields at the misty crack of dawn, I am happy to admit that the butternut squash in the pasta dish that I made tonight was not only purchased from Sainsbury's but that it was purchased pre-peeled and pre-sliced.  I know, gasp away.)

The first thing that will inspire you is knowing what produce is in season when.  If you're in the States, this interactive map from Epicurious will help you.  For all UK-based cooks, check out the calendar from Turnips.  Due to globalization and technological/agricultural advances, it is, of course, possible to find things in the store that aren't in season.  For instance, British broad beans are somehow still in the veg aisle in my local Tesco even though they should have been finished in July at the latest, and things like bananas that are grown in the tropics are available year-round.

Second piece of inspration is knowing how to pick your produce.  Timing is everything, especially if you're on a budget and only cooking for yourself.  This guide from TheKitchn is a good gospel.  I don't think there's anything wrong with buying something and waiting for it to ripen - although this will more often be the case with fruit than with vegetables - but make sure you've appropriately guestimated the time it will take to be ready.  You don't want to buy a basket of peaches that will be ready in a week if you're not expecting anyone to come over to share them with you when the time comes, because then you'll have to either eat them all yourself or throw the leftovers away.  (Actually, peaches is probably a bad example; I could eat a million peaches all by myself in one sitting.  You know what I mean, though, don't you?)

personal photo; Turnips stall at Borough Market, Oct. 2011 

And then third, you have to find recipes that showcase these amazing vegetables.  I'm not even going to begin to suggest cookbooks - though please do tell me your favorites because I'm always looking for new ones - but I will give you a few websites that I frequent for recipe ideas.  That there are a million fantastic cooking blogs out there, and I find that the best way to find new sites is to go to the favorites of your favorites.  Here are a few to get you started (you can click on the images for the links):

Now, go to town!  And please, let me know what you make - I'm always looking for more inspiration, too!

1 comment:

  1. I love that epicurious map--I have Epicurious bookmarked but I don't click on it as often as I should, it's a great site.

    A favourite autumn dish in our house is peeled and chopped up butternut squash, whole sage leaves, chestnuts, red onions quartered or 1/8, and chopped up bacon or sausages all tossed in olive oil and baked on a shallow baking tray in the oven for a while. Simply glorious autumn food!


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