It’s no secret that I have an obscene love of food. What most people don’t know however, is how much that love extends to the utensils and dishes with which food is prepared, served and enjoyed. I would wager, in fact, even my own family is in the dark as to how deep my fondness for all things food-service related runs.
There is something about fall that is truly endearing on every level. The combination of warm, soft sweaters; the sound of leaves blowing across the ground; the smell of chill in the air; and the inherent comfort in the foods that call the season home don’t hurt. Of that I am sure. But for small farmers and local growers the season signifies something greater than even these material comforts.
Fall, for farmers, is the end of an era. It is a time of hard work as is every season, but it’s also a time of reflection, of examining what worked and what did not. It’s a time of tweaking systems. A time of extending harvest, milking the earth for just a few more weeks of production. More than all of this however, it’s a time of loss. Of saying goodbye. [Read more…]
While other months may be able to stake claim to being most bountiful October is probably one of the most interesting months during which to eat local. Many places, even in the cold northern regions, still have the tail-end of summer harvests trickling in as the short-season, cool-weather crops we saw at the beginning of spring make their reemergence and the long-season, fall-specific crops make their debut. It makes for a combination of flavors and textures that cannot be accomplished during any other time of year; meals based on cool weather staples — many green and leafy — spiked with the fading flavors of summer and complimented by the hearty, warming hints of autumn and the impending winter.
As you venture to your local farmer’s market and on-farm stands this month take both plenty of reusable produce bags — small, lightweight — and larger, heavy duty reusable sacks to cart back your finds; they’ll range from tender baby spinach leaves to heavy, heirloom squashes. Here’s a short list of what you should be on the lookout for:
Winter Squashes & Pumpkins
- Pie Pumpkins
- Cinderella Pumpkins – like that pictured above, actually a scrumptious variety of squash.
As a bonus, hard-skinned squashes and pumpkins store well under even adverse conditions, making them prime candidates for edible decor. Stack a few of your favorite small varieties atop a cake stand for a center piece, allow larger varieties to adorn front walkways and porch steps until they make their way to the dinner table.
Late Summer’s Leftovers
- Peppers – hot, sweet, mild and bell.
- Beans – bush and pole
- Summer Squashes
Of course I would be remiss to leave out the star of last week’s column, apples, like those pictured above. And, since I couldn’t possibly include every in-season item in any one column, do be sure to check out previous installments of What’s In Season Now for more ideas.
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All Produce featured in this week’s column was photographed by the author and sourced from local, Michigan farms. To find farms and farmer’s markets near you check out Local Harvest.
Fall leaves photo from Mist Flower Photo
It’s arrived here on the West Coast… What you ask? Oh you know – that time of year where we get upwards of 20 rain-filled days at a time! Sure, sure it makes everything green. But it also makes everything just a little bit grey too. Yet I can’t help but feel a bit excited too – this is the time of year that I think many of us relish creature comforts just a little bit more. It’s the season where coziness and sweet treats are given more priority than any other. It’s also a time when we come together more often as families for various gatherings – here in Canada, we’re already celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend.
Pumpkin Spice Cake Truffles from: Lolli Dreams
One of my favorite things at a family gathering has got to be playing board games. My family is fiercely competitive and a win at Scrabble or any other game is followed by jubilant cheers from the winner, possibly some dancing around the living room – while the “loser” is forced to watch this gloating with at least a reasonable amount of good cheer!
Handmade Chess Pieces from: Chessets
Family gatherings aside I always see autumn as a time to make the home just a bit more bright and to add a touch of fun here or there. From pumpkin scented candles to candy corn scented soap there is no shortage of great items to be found.
Candy Corn Soap from: A Breath of French Air
While the wind is howling outside and showers are falling – I do always remind myself too, that spring and summer aren’t really that far off!
There was a time when Arlington, Virginia, US was full of quirky little shops and off-beat eateries. These days, visitors and natives alike are much more likely to find only chain stores and national brands on the streets of Arlington. The unusual and the unconventional is sadly more and more of a rarity in this Northern Virginia suburb. Two Virginia natives are out to change all that, starting with a cute little shop called Covet.
Autumn Clayton and Sabrina Cabada are old college friends, who had been tossing around an idea for a store/gallery combination for a while. They envisioned a place that would be interesting and unique, and full of the types of things they loved to buy and loved to make. Both Autumn and Sabrina are from creative backgrounds – Sabrina paints and Autumn is a jewelry designer and baker, so the thrill and satisfaction of making things by hand is well known to both of them. They knew whatever form their for-now-imaginary shop would take, that handmade goods would be the focal point.
Just a few months ago, Autumn got a call from Sabrina about a space in Arlington that she found, that would be perfect for their now-not-so-imaginary shop. Both women knew that the time was right to make their dream a reality, and six weeks later, Covet was open for business!
Their tag line is “you know you want it,” which for me totally sums up how I feel when I’m surrounded by gorgeous handmade things. I know I’m not the only one who has that urge to collect when I see a pretty bit of something that I know is the brainchild of some creative soul somewhere. Knowing the care and love that went into creating that item is just irresistible!
In addition to being makers themselves, Autumn and Sabrina are both avid Etsy shoppers, and many of the products featured at Covet are from designers and crafters found there. The store is stocked with a variety of jewelry, accessories, and housewares, and new items are being added regularly.
Covet is not just a store, but also an art gallery, featuring some of Sabrina’s paintings, and also works from local artists. Some of the first events planned for the space will focus on the artists currently showcased in the in-store gallery.
Covet is only a few weeks old, and it is already a favorite destination for locals who crave something special. “Our customers are thrilled and often shocked when we tell them that what they are holding in their hands is made by fingers and not factories,” says Autumn. She and Sabrina know that customers want to have a connection to the the things they spend their money on, and that’s what Covet’s focus on handmade goods is all about.
Covet is located at 5140B Wilson Boulevard in Arlington, Virginia, and is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, and Sundays 12:00 noon to 5:00 pm. Join Autumn, Sabrina, and Arlington residents in the know for the official grand opening party on May 7, 2010.