Pumpkins Arrive at the Farmers Market, Is Fall Far Behind?

There is still a rich bounty of summer's produce at the Pacific Palisades Farmers Market. But, the arrival of pumpkins signals the end of the summer season and reminds us to start thinking about fall soups and salads.

The beautiful sunflowers and dahlias at Skyline Flowers and the elegant orchids being sold in front of fool us into thinking we are still at the height of summer. But at our house in Marquez Knolls, the leaves on our trees tell a different story.

In the morning, we wake up to heavy fog and a dusting of yellow leaves on the deck. We know the summer days are numbered.

My wife and I enjoy the Palisadian summers, filled with long, sun filled days and cool nights. We love it when nightfall comes as late at 9 p.m. With Pacific Standard Time returning on Sunday, Nov. 6, we'll "fall back" to sunsets at 5 p.m. or earlier. 

In the few weeks remaining before we surrender to darkness at such an early hour, we can turn to the farmers market and cheer up our tables with a bounty of tomatoes and corn.

Multi-colored, fat heirloom tomatoes and baskets of their smaller, cherry tomato cousins are still available, but corn is beginning to disappear. Last Sunday, Corona Farms, J.C.K. Farm, Cordero Farm, Gaytan Family Farms and Underwood Farm were selling ears of corn for 50 or 75 cents and three for $2.

The amount of corn for sale is a lot less than it was even a few weeks ago. Before corn is gone from the market, think about sauteing kernels to use in a vegetable pasta.

Also look for less-than-perfect, discounted tomatoes, which are great to use to create easy-to-make sauces. Pasta tossed in an oven roasted tomato sauce, topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese makes a simple entree, perfect for a light lunch or as a side dish with grilled meat. Not to mention, it's a good way to ward off the chill of the evening.

Last Sunday, only a couple of farmers were selling pumpkins. Small ones, good for table decorations and making a single serving pie, were selling for $2 each at Underwood Farm. At Sweredowski Farms, medium- to large-sized pumpkins sold for $5 each.

According to farmer John Sweredowski, "the big push for pumpkins begins next week" when he exptects to have a greater variety, including extra large sizes. 

From now until Thanksgiving, in addition to pumpkins, the market will start to see more farmers with pomegranates, winter squash and pears.

So even though we have to say goodbye to our best-of-summer vegetables, we will be welcoming in old favorites; which are ideal for making soups, gratins, stews and braises.

Once again we can be thankful for the bounty of Southern California to provide us with delicious, nutritious and affordable food.

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