Favorite Fall Ingredients for Family Cooking

Posted by the Mom (aka Kelly Biedny)

From August through October, fruits and veggies pop-up everywhere in booths and the back of pick-up trucks along the roadsides in Minnesota with ‘Just Picked’ signs–delicious produce straight from the farmer to you. By this time of year, fresh fruit and veggie time is just about over, but for us, some favorites are still in peak season:

Squash – Alex and I love squash. He likes it sweet and I like it with butter and salt but we both look forward to it everytime we cook it. Here are a couple of our squash recipes–make sure to check back in November when we’ll be sharing a new squash creation (it has bacon…oh yeah!):
Squash Cakes
Squash Soup

Apples – I get excited when the Honey Crisp Apples come out at the store, firm, tart and sweet–Mmmm. I honestly don’t ‘cook’ with apples that much, we prefer them in their purest form with perhaps a bit of carmel sauce. Oh yes, Soph also enjoys an apple pie or three ;D

Potatoes – a versatile and delicious vegetable. Here are some of our favorite potato recipes:
Garlicky Mashed Potatoes
Alex & Soph’s Perogies
Boxty (Irish Potato Pancakes)

Raspberries – Alex and Soph love raspberry season because it means Mom will buy fresh raspberries. Usually, the little containers they come in for the not so little price are more than I prefer pay. But, when they are in season, the kids feast.

And, since next week we’ll be sharing an interview we were lucky enough to get with chef and entertainer, George Duran, we thought we’d share a few fall ingredients he enjoys. George is the author of Take this Dish and Twist It, host of The Ultimate Cake Off on TLC and Ham on the Street and Secret Life of… on Food Network.

Here are George’s fall produce favorites and some tips he provided for each:

Eggplant: Eggplants are best during the beginning of fall and can be found in numerous varieties, shapes, and sizes. Look for firm and heavy eggplants and make sure the color is vibrant and the skin is shiny. Store eggplants uncut, inside a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.

Grapes: Grapes are high in anti-oxidants and peak during early fall. A fully ripened grape is wrinkle-free with stems still intact. Make sure that the grapes are not leaking any juice and look for bright colors, which are a sign that the grape is sweet.

Brussels Sprouts: If you see Brussels sprouts for sale on the stock, grab them right away! Choose ones that are bright green and firm. Yellow or wilted leaves mean that they have been stored incorrectly. Finally, try to select sprouts that are no larger than one-inch in diameter.

Zucchini: Look for dark green colors when choosing zucchini. Make sure the skin is firm and without any bruises. The stem should be moist and about an inch of it should still be attached.

Cranberries: Cranberries often come pre-packaged but the trick is to look for dark red colors and plump ones. Look to see that there are no berries that are shriveled and discolored.

Broccoli: Broccoli tends to be best during the fall. Bright green colors and firm stalks are a good sign that it’s freshly harvested. Most importantly, the broccoli florets should not have any yellow discoloration or wilted leaves.

Cauliflower offers an excellent source of vitamin C as well as calcium and iron. Look for clean, creamy white colors with no spots or discoloration. The leaves should be bright green and firm. Make sure to look for mold, as it’s a sign that the cauliflower is not fresh.

Leeks: When buying leeks, look for firm white roots and bright green top leaves. The stalks should be unwrinkled and the roots should still be attached. Avoid leeks that have any yellow and wilted leaves.

Pumpkins or Butternut Squash: Choose pumpkins or squash that feel heavy for their size and make sure there are no blemishes on the skin. Feel for soft spots and bruises before purchasing them. Remember, butternut squash continues to ripen for many weeks after purchase, as long as they are kept in a cool, dry spot.

Sweet Potatoes: An excellent source of vitamins A and C, sweet potatoes should be medium-sized and firm all around. Avoid cracks, soft spots, and bruises and look for ones that are not refrigerated, as the flavors can alter if exposed to lower temperatures.

And there you have it, a list of produce and ideas for closing out this fall. We hope you all take advantage of the harvest and spend some time in the kitchen, whippin’ up delicious creations with the whole family.

Happy Family Cooking Everyone,

Kelly, Alex and Sophia

P.S. Have you +1’d Two Kids Cooking yet? Why not do it now?

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