And the autumnal colors--oh, those luscious hues. The rich browns, oranges, and reds are irresistibly inviting. They're some of the simple joys I discovered during my university years. I miss being able to surround myself in that type of natural beauty since moving back to the central coast; visible seasonal changes are not nearly as obvious here as they are in northern California. Autumn prefers to sneak in around here, bathing the scenery in subtler, more muted tones.
Before autumn truly arrives, perhaps it's best to appreciate what is left of summer. There are, in fact, some aspects to this season that I do enjoy--primarily of the edible persuasion, of course. Summer produce is gloriously colorful and flavorful. I've definitely taken advantage of the variety, delighting in heaps of fresh fruit, leafy greens, and every veggie in-between. I could attempt to wax lyrically about the endless rainbow that is a summer farmers' market, but would much rather present a humble ode to the vibrant yet typically monochromatic nature of my plate in recent weeks. Autumn may not set this sleepy town aglow in gold, but it would be a shame not to pay tribute to the brilliant green that keeps me healthy and happy, not only during summer, but year-round.
The herb and pepper plants in the backyard have gone to seed, but they're still as green as ever. As the summer garden continues to wither, the persimmon tree shows signs of life. Young, firm fruit hang from the overgrown branches. Peachy flecks remind onlookers that autumn is indeed on its way, but for the most part, the tree is a huge, lovely tower of green. Soon enough, those treasured Fuyu will announce their presence in bold orange. The display will undoubtedly be short-lived, because I'll be ready to pluck the fruit the minute they mature. In the meantime, my snacks and meals have been perfectly green.
Apple season happens to be synonymous with autumn, and it just so happens that I adore Granny Smith apples. Dusted with cinnamon or left plain, the freshly-cut fruit is a typical, satisfying snack.
One of my favorite ways to eat cucumber is to prepare it as a Japanese-style salad. Wooed by basic, novel-to-me gadgetry, I used a decades-old, nearly-forgotten saladacco spiral slicer to turn an English cucumber into long, curly ribbons for kiyuri namasu. I also spiralized a yellow summer squash, too, for good measure...and just because I could.
A murky, soupy concoction isn't the most appetizing dish to hit the table, but this bowl of "cheesy" squash shirataki noodles (a spinach-loaded adaptation of this recipe) was packed with wonderfully warm, savory, leafy green goodness. I put spinach in nearly everything I eat, so it's no surprise that even "cheesy" pasta would end up green.
Speaking of veggies that are easy to consume in copious amounts, baby bok choy has become something of a recent obsession. Rather than stir-frying it, I prefer to steam it and dress it in simple sauces. This batch has a light drizzle of shiso-infused shoyu and sriracha. Lemon-miso sauce is another delectable option.