Once the weather turns cool, there is some­thing invit­ing about step­ping up those sip­ping recipes.

Cock­tails and bev­er­ages are part of the fall fes­tiv­i­ties. There is a hol­i­day around every cor­ner ready to be toasted.

Fresh pressed juices, cit­rus gar­nishes, teas, ciders and kom­buchas take a turn at liven­ing up the party.

Gin­ger and pear, apples and cin­na­mon or pome­gran­ate and cran­berry make great autumn drink part­ners. Jewel-​toned liq­uids make a splash in clear mugs, mar­tini, high­ball or stemmed glasses.

Alcohol-​free and adult bev­er­ages alike boast big fla­vors. Smokey Har­vest Apple Cider Mar­garita and Brown Sugar Fig Bub­bly exceed all expec­ta­tions for some­thing yummy about to be served.

Ingre­di­ents are as wild as we allow them be. Cloves, star anise, nut­meg and juniper berries spike a cold or hot drink like nobod­ies busi­ness. They infuse a dis­tinc­tive pres­ence that melds with the liq­uid pair­ings.

Sim­ple syrups make their mark with sugar and water or honey and cit­rus juice. Fresh herbs like rose­mary or basil lend them­selves to drink­ing occa­sions. Their appear­ance alone lends them to some­thing refresh­ing and brilliant.

Read more: Witches Brew →

Boomers grew up around a din­ner table daily fam­ily meals deter­mined sacred . Atten­dance was required and non-​negotiable for any­thing short of an emer­gency.

Gen­er­a­tions X, Y and Z have stepped away from manda­tory fam­ily meals. We under­stand why a case can be made for hav­ing grace around more man­age­able meal expec­ta­tions.

Ide­ally, gath­er­ing around the table with either fam­ily mem­bers or friends is mean­ing­ful. Break­ing bread allows for the human con­tact and exchange that comes with a more relaxed atmos­phere to share the day’s events and hap­pen­ings.

Let’s face it, who now has a real­is­tic sched­ule that can sus­tain a din­ner hour where every­one is avail­able at any given time? Rather, we see soc­cer, band and gym­nas­tic prac­tices tak­ing par­ents and kids in mul­ti­ple direc­tions. Din­ner may be the last thought as we close out com­mit­ments for the day.

The pres­sure to per­form, shop, cook and deliver a fam­ily meal is aban­doned for less stress and less sham­ing.

Let’s cut some slack for the jug­gling that hap­pens each week. Fam­i­lies look and func­tion dif­fer­ently from the 1950’s. Sin­gle par­ent house­holds, extended fam­ily house­holds and shared fam­ily house­holds yield to guilt-​free excep­tions to a one size fits all for how we eat.

Pro­vid­ing healthy meals and mod­el­ing good eat­ing habits should be enjoy­able. So too should meal shar­ing. Pos­i­tive mem­o­ries around the table are built on con­ver­sa­tion, shar­ing ideas, talk­ing about the food before us and laugh­ter.

Absent those attrib­utes, din­ner or other meals may be with­out merit.

Read more: Wide Table →

Most every­one chases a snack demon of sorts. Typ­i­cally, this Achilles heel falls into one of two cat­e­gories. Sweet or savory salty crav­ings cover the range of lit­tle nib­bles that sat­isfy our inner food desires.

Per­sonal pref­er­ences, along with daily habits dic­tate what we find at home and work to graze. Store bought choices line the shelves with nuts, crack­ers, cook­ies and candy.

Chips of all sorts extend past one side of any gro­cery aisle. Potato chips used to dom­i­nate the space. Plain salted chips have made room for fla­vors of lime, onion, chipo­tle and vine­gar. Per­verse at it may sound, dill pickle and spicy habanero have found an audi­ence among chip lovers.

Potato chips now share the lime­light with chips made from all types of other ingre­di­ents. Chick peas, lentils, quinoa and rice are just a few. With so many man­u­fac­tured snacks foods out there, why not elect a health­ier way to snack?

We’ve talked fall and sea­sonal root veg­eta­bles. Think of them as ideal can­di­dates for a com­bined salty/​savory/​sweet delight. Plant based, these likely guilty plea­sures, with­out all the sin, can pro­duce some amaz­ing home made crunchy snacks.

Sweet pota­toes, yams, car­rots, parsnips and beets have inher­ently sweet prop­er­ties. When baked or fried, they take on the qual­ity that devout snack­ers seek. The tex­ture of a chip is as impor­tant as the taste.

Baked or fried, oiled and sea­soned, veg­etable chips offer a per­fect crunch for movie night, tail­gates and all of those cool fall night gath­er­ings. They perk up a bor­ing lunch box for office or school.

A range of sea­son­ings and spice blends get to the heart of what so often is con­strued as taboo. Plea­sure is only a shake away.

Cin­na­mon, oregano, basil, rose­mary and thyme are just a few savory chip sug­ges­tions. All things are pos­si­ble to tar­get the exact taste bud crav­ing.

Fresh herbs, rather than dried, always add that spe­cial aro­matic some­thing to any­thing wor­thy in the kitchen. Don’t skip try­ing out which ones work best with new veg­gie selec­tions. Cel­ery root might hitch­hike along with Ital­ian pars­ley and garlic.

Read more: Salty & Sweet →

Last year Amer­i­cans ate over 4.5 bil­lion tacos! There is no sign of that trend let­ting up this year. A National hol­i­day or weekly Taco Tues­days are unnec­es­sary reminders of our taco obses­sion.

A recent Face­book post­ing asked fol­low­ers what three foods could they NOT live with­out. Tacos were right up there with choco­late, cof­fee (not really a food), and pizza.

Likely, the orig­i­nal taco was no more than a tor­tilla and beans. Some­thing sim­ply to sus­tain work­ing minors and easy to carry into the sil­ver mines.

The clas­sic taco com­bi­na­tion is a hard tor­tilla shell with a per­sonal com­bi­na­tion of beans, meat, cheese, let­tuce and salsa.

Amer­i­cans have man­aged to trans­form this hum­ble street food into numer­ous ver­sions to please every palette. From seafood to veg­e­tar­ian fill­ings, soft-​shelled, dou­ble shelled or salad shells, the taco has made its mark.

Culi­nary mas­ters, home cooks and food trucks all lean in on ways to improve an already pop­u­lar attrac­tion. Korean tacos, by exam­ple, amplify the heat on pork with kim­chi and gochu­jang.

Gin­ger cur­ried tacos rep­re­sent their ver­sa­til­ity using cau­li­flower, jack­fruit or other meat sub­sti­tutes. Bland and bor­ing go out with the bath­wa­ter. Move over burg­ers and pasta. Tacos are wel­comed on the menu.

The beauty of tacos for lunch or din­ner, they are suited to be cus­tomized by taco fill­ings and top­pings. Set­ting up a taco bar makes the meal fes­tive in color and taste. The tough­est deci­sion is what to leave out. Ingre­di­ents on the build your own bar are end­less. From tra­di­tional to trendy, go wild on fresh pro­duce.

Avo­cado, cilantro, green onions, toma­toes, chili pep­pers, let­tuce, cab­bage and lime are on the start­ing bench.

Read more: Tacos Everyday →

Root veg­eta­bles are truly nat­ural, unadul­ter­ated sources of com­plex car­bo­hy­drates, antiox­i­dants and other impor­tant nutri­ents.

Unlike most fresh veg­eta­bles, they can stay fresh for longer peri­ods of time when stored in a cool, dark place such as a cel­lar.

Tech­ni­cally. not all root veg­eta­bles are tubers. Those are defined as geo­phytes, a botan­i­cal term for plants with their grow­ing point beneath the soil.

Other types of veg­gies that we clas­sify as root veg­eta­bles are actu­ally bulbs, corms and rhi­zomes. This includes pota­toes, sun­chokes and yams that grow under­ground.

Let’s not get hung up on tech­ni­cal­i­ties and stay focused on the good­ness of roots. A sta­ple food in many South Amer­i­can and Asian cul­tures for thou­sands of years, root veg­gies have played a key role in both global nutri­tion and folk med­i­cine.

Com­mon types of root veg­eta­bles as we iden­tify them include: pota­toes, beets, parsnips, car­rots, cele­riac, sweet pota­toes, fen­nel, Jerusalem arti­chokes, jicama, yams, radishes and turnips.

Turmeric, gar­lic and gin­ger are also root veg­eta­bles, though we asso­ciate them more as being spices.

Less com­mon to West­ern­ers, but heav­ily cul­ti­vated and cov­eted in other coun­tries: are batata, arrow­root, boni­ato, bur­dock, taro, daikon, water chest­nuts and cas­sava roots.

Car­rots, pota­toes and onions may be our favorite under­ground veg­gies for every­day use.

With a range of meth­ods to pre­pare them, Fall is a log­i­cal sea­son to resume our love affair with roots.

Read more: Roots →

The pro­duce indus­try is highly depen­dent upon an effi­cient trans­porta­tion sys­tem. From truck­ing, rail ser­vice and ocean ship­ping, to ports and bor­der con­trol facil­i­ties, putting food on the table relies on a dynamic machine.

While the United States has more than 300 com­mer­cial har­bors and more than 600 smaller har­bors, the top ten port com­plexes han­dle a major­ity of cargo vol­ume and inter­na­tional ves­sel calls.

Port con­ges­tion exac­er­bates first-​to-​last mile delays in freight move­ments. This dri­ves up the cost of goods in both the global mar­ket­place and pro­duce sup­ply chains in the United States.

Con­tainer ships with pre­cious cargo have been expe­ri­enc­ing long wait times, all year long, at ports to unload con­sumer goods, fresh pro­duce and mate­ri­als for most indus­tries.

A recent record was bro­ken with forty-​four con­tainer car­ri­ers anchored and await­ing a berth space out­side the twin ports of Los Ange­les and Long Beach, Cal­i­for­nia. The aver­age wait time to dock rose to 7.6 days, up from 6.2 in mid-​August.

Ves­sels are lin­ing up with imports just as inland trans­porta­tion, truck­ing and rail­roads, con­tends with its own bot­tle­necks of ship­ping con­tain­ers that aren’t being moved fast enough into dis­tri­b­u­tion cen­ters and ware­houses.

Cal­i­for­nia port delays are just one of many fac­tors pil­ing onto a global supply-​chain crisis.

Read more: Ship Shape →