As the eight days of Hanukkah fin­ish, we are gen­tly reminded of those lovely fried gems that are cus­tom­ar­ily eaten dur­ing the course of the Fes­ti­val of Lights.

Tra­di­tion serves up golden brown latkes. One does not have to be Jew­ish to appre­ci­ate this espe­cially del­i­cate good bite. Nor do we need to con­fine our latke indul­gence to the few short days of the hol­i­day sea­son.

Latkes (potato pan­cakes) are tra­di­tion­ally topped with apple­sauce or sour cream. There are many new cre­ative vari­a­tions to these cakes and top­pings.

The crisp, golden clas­sic is made of shred­ded rus­set pota­toes and grated fresh onions. Yukon gold or sweet pota­toes put a softer spin on the clas­sic.

Other root veg­eta­bles like car­rots, turnips and parsnips sur­prise the pal­let in a new cake direc­tion. Include zuc­chini, cau­li­flower, apples, green onions and fresh herbs to amp up flavors.

Read more: Patty Cakes →

Good news for fruit lovers after the Thanks­giv­ing feast. Apples and cit­rus fruits begin to dom­i­nate pro­duce stands and farmer’s mar­kets.

No need for unwar­ranted com­par­isons. Both fruit fam­i­lies con­tribute to bev­er­ages, snacks or meals this time of year.

Ver­sa­tile and dis­tinc­tive, each cat­e­gory seems to have end­less pos­si­bil­i­ties as new vari­eties become avail­able through­out the sea­son.

Ambrosia, Hon­ey­crisp, Opal or Sweet Tango apples remind us that there is a favored choice for every taste pro­file. Sweet and crisp, choose the one that fits out of hand or bak­ing needs.

Tiny Lady apples and other minia­ture vari­eties range from bril­liant red to golden yel­low with red blush. They run from sweet to tart in taste and are good for hand-​eating or cook­ing. They make for par­tic­u­larly good gar­nishes and fresh décor ingre­di­ents dur­ing win­ter months and upcom­ing hol­i­day celebrations.

Read more: Apples & Oranges →

Thanks­giv­ing left­overs are a bet for at least one good sand­wich or warm plate of com­fort post hol­i­day feast.

If soups, sal­ads and sides don’t lend a cer­tain kitchen inspi­ra­tion to the day after foods, rethink the approach.

A few sim­ple fresh ingre­di­ents will ignite a spark to the dol­drums of those glass dishes stacked in the fridge.

Intro­duce gin­ger root, cilantro, edamame and shi­take mush­rooms for a boost of fla­vor to any bowl of Asian noo­dles or rice dish. Spice it up with chili pep­per paste (kochu­jang) or chili pep­per flakes (kochukaru).

Fresh herbs like basil, mint and Ital­ian pars­ley boost taste buds with a dif­fer­ent take to cold sal­ads. Tar­ragon or baby dill move things in an alto­gether new direc­tion.

Peas, arti­choke hearts and fen­nel bulbs and fronds add more than just bright green­ery. Allow the dis­tinc­tive tex­tures and extra­or­di­nary fla­vors to sur­prise the palette. It’s not grandma’s turkey salad if wal­nuts, apple chunks and curry pow­der get folded in to the mix.

Read more: Deja Food →

As Thanks­giv­ing table set­tings get arranged, include a mind­set of grat­i­tude that will hold past this sin­gle day of appre­ci­a­tion.

From hur­ri­canes to wild­fires, epic nat­ural dis­as­ters dis­rupted and rede­fined the lives of thou­sands. Many of those recently touched by dev­as­tat­ing events, find rea­son to give thanks.

Indi­vid­u­als with a solid foun­da­tion of home, fam­ily, friends and employ­ment have much to cel­e­brate.

Grate­ful­ness is not a one-​time thought, deed or acknowl­edge­ment. It’s an ongo­ing process and prac­tice. It cre­ates new chan­nels of pos­si­bil­ity and oppor­tu­nity. It touches love, friend­ship, ser­vice and our human­ity.

In the dark­est of times, there is often some good to be found. Explore what might be at the core of any life alter­ing event. Com­mu­nity is often an abun­dant source of sup­port and strength. Com­mon Unity is a wel­comed by-​product of dis­as­ter.

Through­out the Amer­i­can his­tory, reli­gious lead­ers, polit­i­cal fig­ures, and pres­i­dents have called for national hol­i­days to express grat­i­tude and thank­ful­ness to God.

Read more: Set the Table →

Far too often, lack of care or inex­pe­ri­ence col­lide with pos­i­tive con­sumer encoun­ters. That clash adversely affects fresh fruits and veg­eta­bles.

Prod­uct qual­ity and prod­uct con­di­tion are two sep­a­rate issues. How we han­dle fresh pro­duce can def­i­nitely impact the lat­ter.

Care­ful han­dling will max­i­mize fresh­ness, and add to shelf life or serv­ing appear­ance. It makes sense then that mis­han­dling is counter pro­tect­ing the inven­tory and in-​stock items.

The influx of new employ­ees through­out the food indus­try requires train­ing and coach­ing on the sub­ject of han­dling. Proper receiv­ing is the first step in main­tain­ing good qual­ity stan­dards.

Observ­ing clean­li­ness of truck trail­ers, inte­rior vehi­cle tem­per­a­tures and neat and straight pal­let stacks are a few signs that a deliv­ery is accept­able. Look for car­tons or cases that have not been split open or torn.

Cold chain pro­to­cols are impor­tant year round. As we approach cooler sea­sons, chances are that pro­duce is trav­el­ling to us from far­ther away places. Keep­ing prod­uct in best tem­per­a­ture ranges is crit­i­cal to longevity. This goes for every­thing from berries to zucchini.

Read more: Han­dle with Care →

Good advice comes to us in numer­ous ways. The recent Pro­duce Mar­ket­ing Association’s Fresh Sum­mit event in Orlando was one of those most pecu­liar chan­nels.

Future Hall of Fame quar­ter­back Pey­ton Man­ning addressed atten­dees at a morn­ing break­fast ses­sion.

Foot­ball fan, or not, his mes­sage res­onated with those for­tu­nate enough to wit­ness his humil­ity, insight and humor. He shared the guid­ance his own father, famed NFL quar­ter­back Archie Man­ning, gave him.

“Reset to zero” is the coun­sel he received from his pops when fac­ing a loss, set­back or any type of adver­sity. This mes­sage is one that keeps replay­ing weeks after Peyton’s PMA’s morn­ing break­fast talk.

Win­ning out­comes require dis­ci­pline and prepa­ra­tion. To hear him tell it, no one stays the same. One either gets bet­ter or worse. Decide each day on goals of con­tin­u­ous improvement.

Read more: Reset to Zero →