Here in Apple Valley, the parking lots at pick-your-own orchards overflow with cars every weekend in October and November. One even sets up a popcorn stand, and a bouncy house to keep the little ones entertained while the older kids and parents, armed with picking baskets on long poles, head off into the adjacent grove of apple trees. When you live in a place with a dozen apple orchards, you learn to appreciate apples in season. My love affair with broccoli slaw, however, knows no seasonal boundary. This curried apple and pecan broccoli slaw brings together the best of Apple Valley with one of my favorite ways to get more greens into our diet. I haven't finalized my Thanksgiving menu yet, but I think this quick-and-easy side dish just might find its way to the holiday table.
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If you want to make this pear and brie salad just the way I made it, be prepared for a lot of prep time. Twelve years of prep time. First, buy a house with a pair of untended pear trees. Spend a few seasons pruning them to a third of their original size (and don't worry about the fact that they tilt precipitously, like that tower in Pisa). Every other year or so, harvest the pears when they are rock hard, and set them on the window sill. Check them every day. They will ripen, all of a sudden, and that is the day to make this salad. Substitute freely for everything except the pears; arugula can swap in for lettuce, fontina for brie, pecans for cashews, dried cherries for cranberries. Pear season lasts into the colder weather, making this a great salad for Fall.
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The arrival of Spring triggers in me an instant, visceral aversion to Spring cleaning. I don't know why -- perhaps a lifelong rebellion at being told what to do, and when to do it. This year, though, I've been cleaning out cupboards, storage boxes and shelves nonstop since March. Tucked away in a forgotten file, a cache of recipes cut out of newspapers and magazines years ago contained more than a few recipes I still wanted to try. One of those little scraps of paper inspired this mango and raspberry crisp. I had a nectarine that was perfectly ripe, so I combined it with the mango; I think any stone fruit (apricots? plums?) would be delicious. The almond topping, a last-minute inspiration, made these little crisps crunchy and gluten-free.
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For a food writer, I'm kind of funny about food. I love strawberries, but not strawberry jam. I love crunchy raw carrots, but not mushy cooked ones. I love hummus, but not chickpeas. And I love frozen yogurt, but not regular yogurt right from the container. So it might seem odd when I tell you that I've been working for weeks to perfect this low-fat frozen Greek yogurt that's creamy and rich, with great "mouth feel" but no sugar, a diet-friendly, diabetic-friendly dessert I really love. I know it's a success because all five of our grandchildren, ages 1-1/2 to 11, ate every spoonful of it at dinner a few weeks ago.
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