Holy crap, have you guys seen the October issue of Food & Wine???


Well, if you’re as nerdtastic as me, you have. And it’s AWESOME. I seriously just marked up about half of the recipes in there as stuff I want to make IMMEDIATELY. Provençal lamb stew? Québécois grilled cheese and bacon sandwich? And oh yeah, Jacques Pepin’s white bean & ham stew? ABSOLUTELY.

I frickin’ LOVE fall.

Falling, continued …

It’s not just me!

http://www.yumsugar.com/Fall-Recipes-10782608 (via HuffPost Food)

(And for those of you, like Healthy Mika, who just can’t get enough pumpkin, there’s even a pumpkin bread recipe in there.)

Thinking I might make some of that mac & cheese with leeks, ASAP.

Falling Like the Leaves

It seemed every where I looked and listened this week, my friends were rejoicing in the arrival of “pumpkin spice” season – better known to the rest of us as fall.

I am not a fan of “pumpkin spice,” and not a fan of what seems to be everyone else’s favorite latte (wake me when it’s “peppermint mocha” season, please). But, I am a huge fan of fall.

To me, the first ingredient that means the arrival of fall is not pumpkin, nor pumpkin spice, but maple. I have been eager to start cooking new and yummy things with maple syrup for a while now, but today finally seemed like the perfect day. I had slept in, had watched an afternoon of ACC football, and had worked on my fantasy pro football team – something about all of that football just clicked my brain on over to “fall.”

So, as my beloved Demon Deacons whooped up on the Wolfpack, I ran over to the supermarket to pick up some sweet potatoes. It being Sunday evening, and farmers markets not an option, I relied on the Teeter. My nearest Harris Teeter does a pretty decent job of stocking a few in-season locally grown veggies. And this time of year, one of the easiest-to-get local veggies is the sweet potato.

A few hours and a roast center cut pork loin later, it was time for the first (and, so far, best) dinner of the fall.

DSCF0365Maple-Roasted Pork with Pan Sauce and Cinnamon Sweet Potatoes

It Was Time for Lunch.

I came home this afternoon from having spent most of the morning at banks, so I was already cranky and kind of depressed, on top of being ravenously hungry. It was time for lunch. It was time for comfort lunch. So I started prepping my favorite comfort ingredients – pasta, garlic, cheese, and pancetta. And then I looked in the fridge and found another zucchini and some more green beans, leftover from the CSA haul this week.

Liiiiight bulllllb.
(from “Despicable Me?” Anybody? Anybody? Bueller?)

Before I knew it, I not only felt a thousand times better about my day, but I also had a delicious, kinda-healthy lunch. I guess you could make it without the pancetta, but I don’t want to think about it. 😉


It was just perfect with the Italian lemonade, too. Magnifico!

I also just posted the recipe on the Recipes page. Enjoy these last few weeks of summer with some good food!

Today’s post is brought to you by the letters C, S, and A.

This week’s haul from the CSA:

  • Roma tomatoes
  • Zucchini
  • Green beans
  • Eggplant
  • Cucumber
  • Garlic
  • Chives
  • Callaloo
  • Bell peppers & jalapeños


First up? A stir fry. I cook stir-fry’s all the time, but it always – always – tastes so much better with actual fresh veggies. I can’t help but notice, every time I bring in the goodies from the CSA pick-up, that the veggies are so oddly shaped. I wonder, are they so visually unappealing that the local grocery stores wouldn’t carry them?

CSA veggies pre-stir fry

CSA stir fry finished

*          *          *          *

The tomatoes from the farm had been picked at such a perfect time that when I picked them out, they were already perfectly soft, so I needed to go ahead and use them quickly. Having just finished off several quart-sized freezer bags full of chopped tomatoes I’d frozen a while back, I was very eager to make some homemade pasta sauce from scratch. So I did.

tomato sauce

We made tomato sauce in a similar way with the kids at cooking camp last week, but when I went to write it down for the cookbook we gave them at the end of the week, I couldn’t even bring myself to reveal my favorite, sorta-secret ingredients! So this sauce – one of my very favorite things in the world – has been on my mind a lot lately. Imagine my delight at seeing those ripe, delicious-looking Romas sitting in those crates!

Making my favorite sauce tonight must have also caused the whimsical feeling that made me decide not to just scoop the sauce onto some pasta on a plate. I found a covered ramekin somewhere in the dark recesses of my cabinets and made myself a mini baked pasta casserole, with rosemary-olive oil breadcrumbs (I made those, too) and Parmiggiano Reggiano.

baked pasta

The cuteness of this dish has made me all sentimental, so I’ll be spending the rest of the evening curled up with a bit more wine and a very sappy, (and also a favorite) movie, trying not to think about how soon I’ll be back at work …

In Which the Cooking Camp is a Grand Success

The week of cooking camp was a HUGE success! No cuts, no burns (on the kids, anyway), no lost limbs, no major spills or broken cooking implements. Plus, the kids seemed to have a lot of fun, and their families seemed to enjoy the lunch we cooked for them on Friday. Plus, I had a blast.

Here are a few photos of all the fun we had in the kitchen!


Day 1 - chicken stir fry lunch


Day 2 - a visit to the Old Mill of Guilford


Day 2 - a visit to the farmers market


Day 3 - Iron Chef Cupcake!!


Day 4 - Homemade pasta & tomato sauce


Day 4 - Homemade pasta & tomato sauce


Day 4 - a visit to Homeland Creamery


Day 4 - a visit to Homeland Creamery


Day 5 - a cookout lunch for families - quite a spread!

In Which the Author Cooks With the Kids

This coming week, I am taking my culinary adventures to a whole other level: I am cooking with middle schoolers.

I’ll be spending time menu planning, ingredient shopping, recipe testing, and cupcake competing – which is not at all unlike my usual cook’s life, except for the cupcake part – with 25 or so 10-12 year olds. It sounds scary, typed out like that, even said out loud to my friends, but in all honesty, I’m really, really excited about doing it.

We’re kicking off our week with a trip to the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market tomorrow, and later in the week we’ll be visiting the Old Mill of Guilford and Homeland Creamery, too. We’ll be making bread, cupcakes, cookies, smoothies, salsa, guacamole, and quesadillas, plus whatever else the kiddos come up with. At the end of the week, we’ll have 70+ covers to serve as their parents & families come for lunch, and they’ll go home with their own homemade pasta and tomato sauce, as well as a cookbook of all the things they’ve made all week.

Yeah, no pressure. Eeek.

But in truth, I’m super-excited to haul my kitchen gear over there, put on my chef jacket and get these kids cooking.

photo 1 (13)

Testing out a kid-friendly pasta-making technique: wrapping the dough around drinking straws!