Autumn: I adore it, wait for it, celebrate it. Maybe you do, too.
As the days get cooler–and shorter–it feels nice to be indoors, eat comfort foods, and start to think about the holidays. It’s a chance for travelers to get a peek at authentic local life.
It’s also the best time to travel! The weather is good, vacation and high seasons are over, prices drop, and the pace is slower…everywhere. Locals relax and get into their own routines.
Off-season travel has many rewards. Summer crowds are gone and you can see life as it’s really lived. Kids going off to school, shopkeepers stocking for non-tourists, and cultural events that bring out the residents: theatre, symphonies, concerts… Sure, the ice cream kiosks shut down, but the everyday community emerges.
Farmers’ Markets: Maybe the best time of the year for markets, with flowers, honey, and baked goods. Get pumpkins and squash directly from the farm, along with late summer produce and early fall root vegetables. Make the most of the short days! Madison, Wisconsin’s market is an example of a perfect Saturday fall morning. Soak in the sunshine, sit on the lawn, and acknowledge that winter is ahead. But not quite yet…
Apple Orchards and Pumpkin Farms: Is there anything better than a just-picked apple? America abounds in apples–Johnny Appleseed‘s wanderings are 150 years old this year–so find an orchard and get yourself a bunch. Apples are available all year round, but the freshest are in the fall. Bring some home and make these recipes! Pick your own pumpkin, too…so much more fun than buying one at the supermarket.
Autumn flavors…Hello, maple! Yes, maple syrup is tapped in the spring. But it comes into its own in the fall. Pancakes appear again, along with “heavier” foods, such as pork and hearty salads. It’s a great match with apples and walnuts..two delicious autumn foods. Québec, the world’s largest source of maple syrup, uses it all year round. I was in Quebec during May, and maple syrup was in so many foods…not the sugary fake stuff we pour on pancakes–but a subtle flavor that is surprisingly versatile. Get authentic maple recipes from Quebec here!
Make this salad to enjoy the tastes of autumn:
Apple, Dried Cherry, and Walnut Salad with Maple Dressing
Maple Dressing (Can be made up to three days ahead)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup PURE maple syrup (No Mrs. Butterworth!)
3-4 Tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
Whisk first four ingredients together, then gradually whisk in the oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate. Whisk again before adding to the salad.
1 bag (5 ounces) mixed baby greens, about 10 cups, lightly packed
2 Granny Smith apples (or your favorite) peeled, cored, and cut into small strips
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
1/2 cup (more, if you like!) chopped walnuts, lightly toasted. Set aside 1/4 cup to sprinkle on the salad when serving.
Toss ingredients together in a large bowl. Add enough dressing to coat. Pass extra dressing for those who want more on their salads! Serves 6 happy people.
More cool weather foods to make at home: