Author: crescentinthepines

Persimmon Nut Bread

Waking up late on a weekend morning, just in time to see the golden orange syrup of first light in autumn playing on the last of the turned leaves and the deep dark green of the pines, and I felt inspired to be outdoors. We winterized, cutting back my fruit trees and clearing the flower beds, trimming up outgrowth and splitting wood.         Autumn is shifting toward winter, first frost is coming, the light stays filtered in amber all day and the long shadows never dissipate from sunrise to dark. Inside, the smell of chicken broth from the all-day cooking of chicken and dumplings mingled with the smell of an apple pie baking. It’s cool season, when cooking becomes heavy and the savory smells of each meal permeate the air long after the food is devoured. And this is the season when an instinctual need to bake takes over. This year, inspired by some stunning persimmons, I opted to adapt a bread recipe of my granny’s with a recipe run once in the Times-Picayune. …

Vanilla Cranberry Pumpkinseeds

Anyone who has known me for more than a day or two will likely be aware of two things: waste disgusts me and Halloween is the end all, be all greatest holiday of them all. Although, to be fair the latter is hardly opinion, it is fact.     And so, as we prepare costumes and travel plans and watch E run amuck in her amazing unicorn costume, a new recipe for those tired of the old standard roasted pumpkin seeds. With multiple pumpkins carved into Jack O’ Lanterns or roasted into homemade pumpkin pie, standard roasted seeds would’ve been running out of our ears. But this recipe, adapted from Wallflower Girl, plays the wholesomeness of roasted pumpkin seeds against the sweetness of honey and the tartness of dried cranberries. A delicious snack, it’s perfect for an overabundance of pumpkinseed. VANILLA CRANBERRY PUMPKINSEEDS Adapted from Wallflower Girl. 1 cup pumpkinseeds ½ cup dried cranberries (dried cherries or raisins may be substituted) 2 tsp vanilla extract 4 tsp honey 2 tsp sugar 2 tbsp. boiling water Preheat oven …

Chickpea & Spinach Ginger Tomato Soup

And so, October. Most days have been unseasonably warm, but then came the first with cold gray skies and wind that carried that sharp snow smell. It seemed ridiculous to put off the last of the garden clearing any longer. The tomatillos and some of the beans are still putting on, but otherwise the season has ended for another year, and due to the amount of soil damage and powder mildew, winter gardening is being skipped this year.     Final vegetables were picked for seed, each plant was pulled for compost if possible, supports were stacked with like kind and the greenhouse is nearly full now with stored supplies. Raised beds built for rotation have had their frames pulled and stacked and their dirt spread as the rest of the garden was plowed down. I am, however, postponing pulling the remaining flora until first freeze as the hydrangeas, morning glories, and four o’ clocks are still bearing. By project end, my face was flushed and cheeks cold and the sky was darker, leaves blowing out …

Heirloom: Red Kuri Squash

I found out on one of our trips to back to Tennessee this year that my husband had no idea what kudzu is. On occasion those tiny nuances that are engrained in my being and completely alien to him arise and remind me that I married a non-Southerner. And such a strange feeling to live in a place so near home and yet cut from completely different cloth, a state that borders the South and yet might as well be another planet. But I digress. As I drove the winding back highway to mom’s, I pointed out the kudzu eating the landscape, swallowing barns and other myriad amorphous shapes of things long forgotten under those eerie emerald leaves. He was dumbfounded at the sight of it and the botanical characteristics that make it such a nuisance. It must seem strange to someone who’s never seen kudzu, like some plant from science fiction come to eat the rural South, and yet the very sight of it to me is comforting, decided proof I lived in Mississippi too long.      …

Apple Slaw with Orange Ginger Dressing

More often than not, I crave home flavors. The stylings of food rooted deeply in the great gumbo pot of the South, the most basic vittles based in hillbilly essentials and seasoned with heart. And, over the years and many varied moves, I have adapted those tastes and flavors exotic and new to me into the fold, taking that which my granny taught me and adding a splash of flavor standards from other regions I called home, from recipes of friends near and far, from cookbooks of the other side of the world. To wit, this. A recipe founded in that most basic concept of apple slaw, a roots food autumn staple, while gently folding in a layer of Asian influence, taking the basics of cooking with spices common to my much adored Thai dishes and rolling them back into Southern equivalents, just for a bit of flair. Out went the more common mustard and lemon replaced with orange and ginger, ideal for fall. APPLE SLAW WITH ORANGE GINGER DRESSING ½ small red cabbage, sliced 1 …

Stuffed Sweet Peppers with Honey

There is talk, whispers of autumn all over the internets. I’m certain I’ve already read the words pumpkin spice a dozen or so times. The deer who was a fawn last I looked is less reticent to emerge from the back woods and can frequently be spotted in the driveway at dusk, all awkward adolescent legs and jutting neck. And my mother turkey and her dozen brood are no longer an adorable trail of tiny tag alongs, but rather they are all nearly grown and have no fear of me or my camera. They were roosting outside my bedroom window in the shade yesterday. Most of what remained of a garden after the rough weather season is ready to be pulled and the sumac trees are turning. Perhaps because sumac is one of the first to turn and one of only a few trees native to the many varied regions in which I’ve lived, their change in particular is the great heralder, the harbinger of the equinox.        In spite of the hints of …

Heirloom: Black Vernissage Tomato

This has been a year of lamentations on the mass drowning of mine and everyone I knows’ gardens. A few plants, although stunted, have managed to put on but by no means in the quantities of a more typical season. As with every summer though, a standout has shown through, this one particularly impressive for not only putting on in mass quantities but for doing so under the strenuous conditions of down pours and unseasonable cool turning immediately into drought and heat. As a planned segment of Crescent in the Pines is to highlight prized heirloom varieties and other garden selections of note, this beaut seems an obvious choice for the first feature of the Heirloom series.     That standout is Black Vernissage, a saladette sized tomato ironically sent to as a free gift with my spring seed order but one I will grow every year hereafter, not only for its deliciousness but for if prolific nature and its ability to make one of the best sauces I’ve ever gotten from any tomato. Black Vernissage features everything great about both paste tomatoes …