To everything, there is a season: Changing seasons usher in flavors, textures

September 12, 2018 10:42:33 AM

Jan Swoope - [email protected]


For those who keep up with what changing seasons mean in the garden and on our plates, the advent of fall can sometimes seem a little bittersweet. Yes, we say goodbye to a bounty of plump tomatoes and golden ears of fresh sweet corn -- but we have a different palette of intense flavors and textures to focus in on with autumn. Crisp apples, winter squash, okra, persimmons, greens and cranberries come to mind. And pumpkin, don't forget pumpkin. The second I walked into a Columbus bakery Friday and detected the aroma of pumpkin bread, I realized fall had officially arrived. 


At Columbus' Hitching Lot Farmers Market, the seasonal shift has begun. It's still open Mondays 4-6 p.m. and Thursdays and Saturdays 7-10 a.m. through the end of September, and will be open Saturdays 7-10 a.m. throughout October. Saturdays are the biggest market days. While manager Tony Rose can't guarantee what vendors will bring in from week to week -- Mother Nature has something to say about that -- he looks forward to fall harvests. 


"We hope to see some greens, and squash and lots more from vendors. We should see some pears showing up, and already on Saturday we had several people selling muscadines," Rose said. "Saturdays are still real good; we had 24 vendors this past Saturday."  


The sweet potato really comes into its own now and should be among the produce offerings. Bake 'em, mash 'em, roast 'em. 


"I love just a simple roasted sweet potato when the weather turns cooler," said Kayla Curry of Columbus. "I cube mine, drizzle it with extra-virgin olive oil, honey, cinnamon and a little salt and pepper." Cook the cubed potatoes in a single layer on a roasting tray or pan for 25-30 minutes, or under they're tender, at 375 F. Transfer them to a serving plate and drizzle them with some more extra-virgin olive oil. 


Butternut squash has tender, rich flesh and a flavor reminiscent of sweet potato. It, too, can be roasted for a comfort-food treat. A recipe is included today. 


Cranberries reach their peak of tangy, fruity flavor and color now. Use them in breads, desserts, salads, sauces and with entrees. And we love our autumn apples. Who can resist the aroma of apples baking in a pie or tarts? But they work outside the box, too -- like in the apple chicken thighs recipe below.  




Still time to plant 


As temperatures begin to cool down, there are several things you can plant in a fall garden that will grow quickly.  


"We're fixing to do lettuce boxes right now, with chard, spinach, kale, and we do carrots, for carrot tops," said Mary Tuggle, greenhouse and garden manager at Palmer Home for Children in Columbus. "You can do arugula and harvest it by Christmas. You can put collards in." 


Broccoli fans can also look for two-pack or three-pack broccoli plants at area co-ops, said Tuggle, "plants with a little 3-inch root," to get in the ground. 


To everything, there is a season. And that includes what we eat. Make a visit to the farmers market soon, especially on a Saturday morning, and see some of autumn's gifts. 






Total time: 26 minutes 


Yields: Serves 4  




1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided  


4 (6-ounce) bone-in pork chops  


3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided  


3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided  


1/2 cup unsalted chicken stock  


1 teaspoon Dijon mustard  


1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage  


1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary  


2 medium apples, thinly sliced  


1 small red onion, thinly vertically sliced 




  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Sprinkle pork chops evenly with 3/8 teaspoon salt and 3/8 teaspoon pepper. Add pork chops to pan; cook 5 minutes on each side or until pork chops are done. Remove from pan. 


  • Combine stock and mustard, stirring with a whisk. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl. Add remaining 3/8 teaspoon salt, remaining 3/8 teaspoon pepper, sage, rosemary, apple, and onion to pan; cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in stock mixture. Return pork chops to pan; cook 3 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. 










    1 medium squash 


    1 tablespoon butter, melted (or coconut oil) 








    Brown sugar (optional) 




  • Preheat oven to 400 F. 


  • Cut squash in half lengthwise. (An easy way to do this is to cut off a tiny bit from the bottom of the squash in an even slice so that you can sit it down first, and then cut the squash in half lengthwise.) 


  • Place squash in a baking pan and rub with melted butter (or melted coconut oil if you are dairy-free). 


  • Sprinkle the cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and brown sugar (optional). (If you forget this step you can add it at the end also.) 


  • Bake in preheated oven for an hour. Be warned though, depending on the size of your butternut squash, it may take less or more time to cook thoroughly (could be up to 1 1/2 hours.) 










    1 12-ounce package fresh cranberries 


    1 Granny Smith apple, finely chopped 


    2 scallions, sliced 


    2 teaspoons orange zest 


    1/3 cup orange juice 


    3 tablespoons sugar 


    Kosher salt 


    Black pepper 




  • Place cranberries in a food processor; and pulse until chopped, 3 to 4 times. Transfer cranberries to a bowl and add apple, scallions, orange zest and juice, and sugar and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Chill. 



    Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.