Is it me, or did our summer just whiz by? Labor Day is our last hurrah for the season. (Though doesn’t it seem odd that most kids have already been back at school for weeks?)
Right about now we start to notice the shift from summer to autumn here in Sacramento. The sun sets earlier. A breeze arrives to cool things off at night which makes it downright pleasant in the morning. Tomatoes that stopped growing entirely in the heat of August have come alive again, as happy with the weather as we are.
September is a great month for produce! Apples, eggplants, tomatoes, tomatillos, green chiles, basil, figs, green beans, and peppers are all in season. My parents’ apple trees are so full with Fujis and Granny Smiths my father has had to prop the trees up to keep the branches from breaking.
Fortunately we have plenty of ways to make use of those apples. We make apple cobbler (pictured above), applesauce, apple pie, baked apples, and my mom’s favorite apple slices. We’ll put apples into savory dishes too with chicken and apples in honey mustard sauce, waldorf salad, and slow roasted pork shoulder. (See more apple recipes here.)
If you happen to stop by my parents’ house? Good luck leaving without a bagful of something—apples, figs, plums.
We’re using up the last of our garden tomatoes. This Baked Chicken with Cherry Tomatoes and Garlic only needs 10 minutes of hands on time and goes great with hot buttered noodles. The dish creates a lot of juice from the chicken and tomatoes, which you can either reduce or use as a dipping sauce for crusty bread.
By the way, if you ever wondered what fruits and vegetables are in season when, here’s a Seasonal Produce Guide by Russ Parsons of the LA Times. The guide is geared to Southern California, but much of it will work for other parts of the U.S. If you have a question about what’s in season in your area, ask your grocery store’s produce manager. I always find them to be helpful.
September is also the month when people get busy. I spent many years as a Silicon Valley worker bee who got take-out most nights. Too busy to cook, or so I thought. The real reason I didn’t cook much in my younger years is that I didn’t know how to plan. That’s why I’m so delighted to announce that Simply Recipes has partnered with Gatheredtable.com to offer meal plans with recipes from Simply Recipes.
Elise with Mary from Gatheredtable.com
According to my friend Mary Egan, the founder of Gatheredtable, “If you don’t plan, you don’t cook.” Or at least not as often you could. Meal planning helps make home cooking a habit. Planning will not only help you eat better (healthy home cooking instead of take-out), you’ll save money too, by not buying a bunch of ingredients that you don’t end up using.
The Gatheredtable service makes menu planning easy. You get four menu plans per week, which you can easily customize. Once you’ve set your plan, Gatheredtable generates a shopping list for you. You can keep track of your favorite recipes with the service too. Here’s the Gatheredtable page with more information, including a video showing how the service works. Please take it for a whirl and let me know what you think!
Finally, my sweetheart and I are headed off to France at the end of this month. He’s from Provence which is where we are going. It will be my first trip to Provence, and our first trip to France together. I hope to return with new ideas for Mediterranean inspired recipes to share with you.
Stay safe, cook and eat well, and have a great September.
P.S. For those of you who replied to my last email, thank you, I love hearing from you, keep in touch!