When my farm share box arrived this week, I eagerly dug into the depths of what was clearly a fall crop. No cucumbers or tomatoes. No zucchini or eggplant. On my nightly walks, I pass children in school uniforms and the evening light is a little cooler though the days are quite warm. There’s no doubt we slip a little more each day into fall and rhythm that comes with a school for those with young families and general recommitment from the rest of us. I know I’ve been playing hooky a little too long and it’s time to pay attention to the to-do list.
This was week one of my CSA. Every other week this summer, I’ll receive a giant box of produce from a local farm. We first signed up for a CSA last summer and I really struggled finding ways to use all the produce. Just look at that picture above and imagine getting that much produce EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK. I loved it, but definitely struggled with how to cook it all and I LOVE to cook. The quality and freshness of produce is just worlds beyond what you can find at a grocery store and so affordable, so there was no going back. I was hooked. Luckily, my CSA, began offering an every other week deliver option, so this year we signed up again and maybe we’ll make it to a farmer’s market (or at least be able to go out of town for a weekend without overflowing produce drawers). If you’re in the Chicago area, I highly recommend this CSA. They are still accepting pro-rated signups for this season.
Our dining room table had it’s swan song last week. I hosted the weekly girl’s night dinner and once everyone had left, the table was wiped clean one last time, titled it on it’s edge, legs removed and it shortly will be making it’s way to a new home (thanks Craigslist!).
We’re upgrading and that is very exciting, but in the moment when the rug was cleared and there was a big empty hole in our living room, I was surprised to find myself a little sad. I think Reggy (our
dog child) was rather sad or shocked as well because he left his usual perch and curled up in the center of the rug. He looked so lonely and small in that big empty space.
I am a huge fan of cookbooks. I collect them like somebody would collect stamps, coins or action heroes, lovingly lining up my collection on shelves, reorganizing and rearranging it occasionally just for fun.
I’ve taken cookbooks with me on planes for “light reading”. They sit on my nightstand, often piling up as I acquire yet another and another. Amazon prime is my worst enemy or best friend (however you choose to look at it) because it is just so easy to add yet another new book to my shelf.
While some books do little more than inspire a thought or two, Jerusalem has been a favorite over the last year. I reference this book often and when I learned that Yotom Ottolenghi had a new cookbook out, Plenty, I was so excited to add yet another book to my collection. This collection of completely vegetarian recipes would have even the most ardent carnivores salivating. The cover recipe caught my eye and given I had most of the ingredients on hand I decided it was a must try.
I should start by raving about “the star” fall ingredients in this recipe. Brussels sprouts! Squash! These are the things I should be yelling about, bursting with enthusiasm to share with you.
Today what I really want to talk about is dijon mustard. This ingredient, in my most expert opinion, is the most under appreciated fall flavor. Think of it as the backup dancer to all our fall favorites. For example, the classic combo of pork and apples- turn that on its head with a savory mustard glaze. Stews, soups, pot roast- how about with a mustard twist? Roasted butternut squash with thyme, rosemary and dijon mustard. The possibilities are endless and I haven’t even gotten to the obvious- brats, burgers and tailgating!