Novem­ber vot­ing goes well beyond polit­i­cal bal­lots. Our thoughts begin to move toward hol­i­day plan­ning.

The Thanks­giv­ing count­down is start­ing to look dif­fer­ent, like most other things in 2020.

This year, tra­di­tions might be dialed back with smaller gath­er­ings forced upon us. Even so, deli­cious pies will be part of the grand finale to what­ever meal is served.

A slice of pie makes us happy. Sure, hap­pi­ness could come from a wide slice of pizza pie, a savory pie or even chicken pot pie. In this moment, we’re talk­ing about those seri­ous Thanks­giv­ing dessert pies.

Vot­ing on just one is super dif­fi­cult. Pie brings back fond mem­o­ries shared with loved ones. Those fam­ily mem­bers or friends we like to share the hol­i­day meal. With. Maybe an aun­tie or grand­mother made our spe­cial hol­i­day pies.

There are at least twenty favorite fall pies from which to choose. Sweet potato, apple, pecan and pump­kin are in the top five.

When it comes to apple, there are so many vari­a­tions on the theme that it may make take at least eight spots on the pie charts. Dutch apple, bour­bon apple, old-​fashioned apple and caramel apple lead the hit parade.

Read more: Ready, Set, VOTE! →

Let’s talk pome­gran­ates. Most kids don’t mind get­ting messy while break­ing in to them. Stained crim­son hands and shirts don’t faze an eager ten or twelve year old.

That’s not what most cooks and chefs care to expe­ri­ence as they work the jew­eled arils in to their pome­gran­ate recipes.

Over the years and over the inter­net, many experts have given us var­i­ous meth­ods of extract­ing the seeds with­out dif­fi­culty.

The under­wa­ter method seems like a lot of work for the reward. Sure, we stay cleaner but work­ing the fruit is tax­ing. Scor­ing the fruit in sec­tions is a solu­tion. We must still work each sec­tion to loosen the seeds.

Scor­ing and invert­ing the fruit is also advised. This yields loose seeds through the sheer force of dis­lodg­ing them from their pithy mem­branes. Mus­cle and patience.

Read more: Whack Job →

We are lucky enough this month to have a chance to expe­ri­ence a rare Hal­loween Blue Hunter’s Moon.

This uncom­mon occur­rence is a for sure a rar­ity. Mark the cal­en­dar to wit­ness this sec­ond full moon of the month on a hol­i­day ideal for it’s spec­tac­u­lar show­ing.

All Hallow’s Eve con­jures up images of were­wolves, gob­lins, zom­bies, and other scary crea­tures. They con­verge on Hal­loween to bring out play­ful and spooky enter­tain­ment.

When­ever two full Moons appear in a sin­gle month (on aver­age every two and half to three years) the sec­ond full moon is chris­tened a Blue Moon.

When we look at the full moon on Hal­loween night, it won’t actu­ally appear blue in color. Even so, it will be pretty unique. A full moon on Hal­loween occurs roughly only every 19 years, and in only some parts of the world.

Typ­i­cally, a Hal­loween full moon is seen only once every 38 years. The last Hal­loween full moon in all United States time zones was way back in 194476 years ago.

Read more: Blue Moon →

Enjoy­ing newly har­vested apples presents a wide range of deli­cious options. Pick­ing the right one depends on how we want to enjoy them.

Four excit­ing eat­ing apples are Wash­ing­ton grown Swee­T­ango, Cos­mic Crisp, Lady Alice and Lucy.

Swee­T­ango is crisp and sweet, with a lively touch of cit­rus, honey and spice. The tex­ture is amaz­ing, too— per­fectly crunchy and sat­is­fy­ingly juicy.

Swee­T­ango eats great on own, but also stands out in recipes, and pairs per­fectly with a vari­ety of wines, cheeses and more.

Cos­mic Crisp® apples are a cross between the Enter­prise and Hon­ey­crisp vari­eties. This large, juicy apple has a remark­ably firm and crisp tex­ture. The fla­vor pro­file is sur­pris­ingly sweet, mak­ing it an excel­lent eat­ing apple.

Cul­ti­vated with nat­u­rally higher lev­els of acid­ity and sugar, the Cos­mic Crisp® fla­vor packs such a sweet punch that in bak­ing recipes, added sugar can be reduced. In addi­tion to being sweet and crisp, it is nat­u­rally slow to brown when cut and main­tains its tex­ture and fla­vor when stored in the refrig­er­a­tor at home.

Lady Alice® apples have a dis­tinct pink stripe over a creamy-​yellow back­ground. This highly attrac­tive vari­ety dis­tin­guishes itself in other ways, also. The back­ground color deep­ens to an orange-​yellow after har­vest.

The actual parent­age of this apple is a mys­tery. It’s pre­sumed to have some golden deli­cious her­itage given the yel­low body undertones.

Read more: Picker’s Choice →

Fall menus dic­tate a change of gears. Espe­cially when it comes to choos­ing fresh ingre­di­ents.

Crav­ings begin for com­fort­ing soups, stews, casseroles and heartier dishes. New recipes get put into the week­night rota­tion.

Web searches surge for slow cooker and Instapot ideas. The last of sum­mer pro­duce and new fall har­vest items pair well with legumes, rice, noo­dles, and grains.

Triple digit tem­per­a­tures still linger in some parts of the coun­try. Once those finally fade away, we’ll jump right into col­or­ful autumn cook­ing. Soul sooth­ing foods are a tem­po­rary relief from the daily stress encoun­tered dur­ing these trou­bled times.

The phys­i­cal engage­ment of increased peel­ing, chop­ping and shred­ding takes the edge off a day of work or life stress. Fol­low­ing a recipe or try­ing a new cook­ing tech­nique puts focus on some­thing other than our­selves. A tri­umphant new dish con­tributes to nour­ish­ing body and soul.

Sweet pota­toes, kohlrabi, cab­bages, pome­gran­ates and per­sim­mons brighten up the fall pantry. Intro­duc­ing new greens and adapt­ing recipes to feed the fam­ily rein­vig­o­rates our enthu­si­asm. We can all use a boost to shake up the rote work of meal­time prepa­ra­tions.

There have been a parade of new cook­books released this year. Many of them are plant-​centric and breathe life in to the ordi­nary way we approach widely avail­able veg­eta­bles.

Red, green and orange bell pep­pers, chile pep­pers, corn, avo­ca­dos and cel­ery are all year round ingre­di­ents. How we bring them together for a sea­sonal riff is nuanced in roast­ing or pureeing.

Read more: Switch­ing Gears →

We all read the updates on weekly mar­ket con­di­tions. Weak, strong, up, down, esca­lated, Acts of God, legs, no legs. All pro­duce lingo to inform end users on the state of let­tuce, berries and veg­eta­bles.

It all sounds fine in an update on paper. Real­ity sets in when we as con­sumers shop and take our fruits and veg­eta­bles home for meals pre­pared in our own kitchens.

For the past sev­eral weeks, exces­sive and pro­longed heat (triple digit tem­per­a­tures) in our prime grow­ing areas is news­wor­thy. Next came the head­lines of mul­ti­ple fires through­out Cal­i­for­nia, Ore­gon and Wash­ing­ton. Smoke and ash con­tinue to push air qual­ity in to unhealthy ranges.

Warn­ings of short sup­plies, higher prices and tight mar­kets are a direct result of those late sum­mer events. Har­vest dis­rup­tions due to lack of labor or min­i­mum time avail­able to pick, sort and pack have worked against grow­ers.

Prod­uct alerts tell retail­ers and chefs to order tight or “truck to shelf or truck to plate”. Valen­cia oranges have suf­fered from heat stress. Romaine, ice­berg and leafy let­tuces are now show­ing the affects of insect dam­age and high tem­per­a­tures.

Grow­ers do their best to mit­i­gate all qual­ity con­cerns in every crop. It makes good sense for the farmer to want to make the most of their sales. Still, unavoid­able cir­cum­stances have pre­vailed this sum­mer to give grow­ers more headaches than usual.

Since most meals are now being made or con­sumed at home under COVID restric­tions, pro­duc­tion dis­rup­tions hit close to home on food waste and the wal­let. Fewer store trips for mar­ket­ing mean the per­ish­ables need to last and go farther.

Read more: Esca­lated & Weak →