Alice Waters on 60 Minutes

In case you missed the amazing interview with Alice Waters on 60 Minutes a couple of weeks ago, please check out the video below. She is such an inspiration to not only “talking the talk,” but also “walking the walk” when it comes to eating locally. As owner of Chez Panisse and mother of Slow Food, she is an inspiration to many and this interview captures how contagious her love for food is.

Grilled BLT

You may ask yourself, “Ok, its a great idea to cook with the seasons, but how do I start?” Glad you asked…

The first thing that you can do is to become familiar with your state’s crop calendar. This information is provided to you at the top of this page. Start slowly, there is no reason to feel like you have to buy everything that is in season. Choose a fruit or vegetable that you know your family would love.

You will see that tomatoes are currently in season in many states. Tomatoes are such a fun item to cook with. One bite into a fresh, in-season tomato and you will never want to go back to eating tomatoes out-of-season when they are mushy and have plastic skin.

Here is my favorite, simple recipe to use tomatoes:

Grilled BLT

2 slices of your favorite break (we love Sara Lee Hearty & Delicious)
1 slice of your favorite cheese (ex. Swiss, cheddar, Pepper Jack)
3 slices of bacon (you can use Turkey Bacon for a healthier option)
Mayo, Mustard (optional)

Goodness my mouth is already watering just thinking about this. You basically compile the sandwich and warm it in your frying pan on the stove and Voila! a yummy Grilled BLT with the freshest tomatoes! I think this is calling my name for lunch today.

Big Boy tomatoes (two on the top) and Early Girl (bigger one on the bottom), with Baxter and Sofia modeling in the background.

Big Boy tomatoes (two on the top) and Early Girl (bigger one on the bottom), with Baxter and Sofia modeling in the background.

Crop Calendars

One of the main features of this site is the list of crop calendars for each state. You can find this information at the top of this page. Simply scan the page for your state/region. More than likely, you already have a good idea of what grows at which time of year, but this resource will be great for you to print off and put on your refrigerator.

As you plan your meals to cook each week, you can turn to the crop calendar to see what is in season in your area.

One of the greatest things about cooking with the seasons is that when a crop is in season, it is typically sold at it’s cheapest price! If you think about it, it actually makes sense because the item is readily available, fresh and the cost doesn’t reflect a storehouse where the item had to sit for 4 months.

As an example of how to use the crop calendar, I live in Denver, Colorado and right now I have a lot of items to choose from. One of my favorites is yummy peaches that have a very short growing season (August – mid Sept). Luckily my local farmer’s market and grocery store have peaches for $1/lb. This is the time to go Peach Crazy!!

Buy as many peaches as you can! Cook them, freeze them and can them. This is the time of year when they are as fresh as fresh can be. So your choice is either stockpile them now, or buy them in a couple of months when they are mushy and overpriced.

Each week I will provide recipes for how to cook the crop of that season so that you can really take advantage of the peak season. Each region is a little different, but I will provide recipes that most of us will be able to use.

What is Simply in Season?

First posts are always a difficult thing to write, so let me get started by telling you why I wanted to start this site.

While planning a Fourth of July cookout, a friend said “Oh, we should have that wonderful sweet Colorado corn for the cookout!” I responded to her by saying “Sorry to break it to you, but that’s Florida corn. Colorado corn isn’t ready until mid to late July.” Not that I am an expert on every state’s crop calendar (I’m learning), but I just happened to read in our grocery store’s flyer that Florida corn was bombarding our produce section during that time of year.

This short little conversation got me thinking…. how many times do we go to the grocery store and do not think twice about if the produce is in season or if it has been somewhere in storage for a long time so that they can charge twice as much for it during the off season? The art of cooking with the seasons has been lost because of the readily available produce in our grocery stores year-round.

I grew up on a farm in south Mississippi and it was there that I learned a lot about how your food comes from the ground during different times of the year. I have fond memories of helping my dad plant corn, potatoes, butter-beans and all other kinds of goodies in the garden and then waiting to harvest. I was not a fan of shelling the butter-beans, but I definitely liked to eat them!

Planting corn with my dad, sometime in the mid 80's.

Planting corn with my dad, sometime in the mid 80's.

So from the combination of my upbringing on the farm, a growing passion for cooking as I got older, and an intrigue of knowing where my food comes from, this site was born. I look forward to taking this journey with you as I strive to help you cultivate a passion for cooking by the seasons. It will be fun as we learn what is ‘Simply In Season’!