<a href=” alt=”” />Succotash, photo courtesy of Epicurious

I’ve just returned from San Francisco, site of the first Slow Food Nation, a 3-day national celebration of American farming and artisanal food production. Of all the food-for-thought opportunities there, my favorite SFN experience was helping farmer Alex Weiser of Tehachapi, CA sell his heirloom potatoes at the Marketplace opposite City Hall. Attracting thousands of new shoppers, the market was a perfect one-on-one introduction to small-farmed ingredients. I spent the day weighing, making change, and answering questions about potatoes and how to prepare them—a gratifying opportunity to stand on the other side of the table. For pictures look in “Photo & Menu Gallery” on my website.

As summer winds down, my pantry and freezer offer a record of delicious micro-seasons: a dozen jars of Blenheim Apricot Preserves (page 170) to commemorate July’s obsession with a favorite fruit; jars of Elberta peach jam and chutney and vacuum-packed peach slices to remind me of August’s visit to the Masumoto Family Farm near Fresno (read my Elberta blog and recipe about these old-fashioned, buttery peaches on KCRW’s Good Food website). Hope you’ve got tasty summer food memories stored away too.

Shelling beans

Now comes one of my favorite times of the year: the cusp of seasons when sun-drenched summer produce sits side by side autumn’s early picks, and two-season dishes are possible—tomatoes with early hard squashes, late summer peaches with concord grapes, sweet corn with earthy shelling beans. I’ve got a passel of new fall recipes for you in October’s Bon Appétit (that’s my Succotash of Fresh Corn, Lima Beans Tomatoes and Onions pictured above). And, if you’re new to farmers’ markets, I hope you’ll find my Chow.com shopping hints helpful.

I’m heading to Boston and Providence for some terrific events honoring local growers’ harvests featuring dishes from The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook:

  • Cooking class and dinner at the Butcher Shop. Menu highlights: No-Cream Creamy Corn Soup; Roast Leg of Lamb with Black Olives and Herbs; Fresh Black-Eyed Peas with Tomatoes and Onions
  • Dinner at Al Forno. Menu highlights: Bruschette with Tomato-Mint and Fire-Roasted Eggplant Toppings; Farfalle with Five Herbs and Rhode Island Cherry Tomatoes; Roasted Leg of Lamb with Black Olives and Herbs; Plum Crisp with Cornmeal-Ginger Topping
  • A day at Siena Farms stand at Copley Square Farmers’ Market with treats from Sofra, Ana Sartun’s new café

In October, I’ll be back in L.A for an evening of easy, sustainable autumn recipes at the Eco-Gourmet cooking series. And, the Garden School Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to creating and maintaining schoolyard kitchen gardens, is throwing a Harvest Moon Party at co-founder Nancy Powers’ fabulous landscape design Barn Studio to raise awareness and recruit garden helpers.