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Year of Produce: October

Clobber or feed them? I say feed.

As I started writing this, election coverage murmured on the laptop in the kitchen, while the smell of bacon, vinegar and brown sugar filled the apartment. Collard greens. Election results weren’t sounding good, rekindling the helplessness I’d felt in earlier elections.

What does this have to do with October’s produce? It’s easy to confuse what you can and can’t control in life. You can care deeply about certain issues and not be able to fix them. But that doesn’t stop us from losing sleep and feeling frustrated. I discovered at some point with elections that I actively allowed my energy to be consumed by what I had no control over. Pure laziness designed to appear as though I was an active and engaged citizen. These are places where we often hide, like excess TV watching, ensuring that we’ll keep avoiding what really feeds us—bodily and mentally.

The new majority might as well say, “Let them eat cake.” Don’t mind if we do. We can make our own. And soup and pies and salads, as well.

The simple act of choosing what you consume every day is also a profound act. It doesn’t have to be fancy, time consuming or expensive. And fortunately, no one can take that away. Unless someone grabs the last piece of cake before you can get to it.

Download a high-res version of October. See below for what was cooking in October. Want to see other months? Scroll to bottom for more.

So Long, Tomatoes
After too many chilly, cloudy summer days, October decided to give us some love. This will be the last month for tomatoes. Earlier, I talked about slow roasting to boost flavor—a good option for those non-vine ripe, not-so-hot-tasting tomatoes, like the sluggish green ones sitting in a bowl on my counter.

Apples and Pears
You might wonder how I’m eating 12 pounds of apples and pears. Or even why. Every year, Portland Nursery holds a two-week apple event with 30-some varieties of apples and 10 or so pears. A good deal at .89 per pound. Apples keep well in the fridge for a long time.

I made Jamie Oliver’s pear sorbet (sorbetto di pere) for guests, skipping the grappa and adding limoncello instead. Or you can add a little vodka, which prevents the sorbet from freezing too much. (You want to serve sorbetto a little soft.) Slabs of dark chocolate served with the sorbet won’t piss anyone off either. More pears went to a pear and hazelnut tart, which I plan to make again and again.

One of my favorites is delicata, my go-to squash for its nutty, rich flavor. See my Asian-inspired squash soup recipe, which can be made using any flavor combination you like.

I’ve always wanted to plant garlic, and so I did, October being the month for it. Four bulbs—32 cloves—went into what used to be called Zucchini Hill, but which will now become Garlic Hill because I forgot that garlic grows for about nine months. Perhaps I wanted a good excuse to re-read a charming book called “A Garlic Testament” that I picked up in New Mexico years ago. This ostensible garlic growing guide is full of metaphors for life.

Celery, Onions and Carrots
Better known as soup’s vegetal trifecta, these three ingredients will appear in abundance for the next several months as the base of most soups. So they’re good to have on hand. Humble and affordable, they don’t need much more than some water, salt and beans to become a hearty, healthy meal. You can start with this easy Italian Chicken Soup (no chicken or Italians necessary).

I’ll close with…

One of the most enticing vegetables of the fall season is the pepper—in all its forms, colors, sizes and shapes. Long and sweet, short and hot and everything in between. Get your mind out of the gutter, please. These are peppers we’re talking about, sensual as they look. Roast, peel and seed peppers. Slice them and store in small containers in the freezer. They’re great tossed with a little olive oil and salt to serve on sandwiches or cheese and crackers. Puree and add to hummos, soup or pasta sauce.

What are you cooking this season? What’s your favorite soup recipe? Please share!

Links to previous month’s logs:



  1. eileen says:

    I followed the link to the soup article and want to add my 2¢ for ingredients: in winter with hearty soups and root vegetables, adding a shot of dry vermouth or sherry does wonders for enhancing the flavor of those veggies.
    I will also add leftover bread – rye or very hearty sourdoughs are good with winter soups. Even pumpernickel!

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