November is the month to let the food you’ve harvested from your garden bring people together to steep in autumn’s enchantment. Even if your garden plot stopped adding sustenance to your plate months ago, it’s still a wonderful time to whip up favorite family recipes. This is the season of giving and, for me, one that’s synonymous with food.

I was fortunate to grow up surrounded by great chefs. My mother and grandmother’s Italian traditions ensured frigid days were staved off with piping hot pans of lasagna smothered in homemade sauce, and holiday tables were dressed with roasts, garlicy vegetables and cannoli. My dad was continuously fixing big pots of seasonal soups and chilis, always factoring that me or my brother would wander in with a friend or two around dinnertime.

Just because cool weather and cozy comfort food have rolled, that doesn’t mean there’s not still work to be done. Harvest Brussels sprouts, parsnips, carrots, kale and cabbage. Continue to thin tender greens that thrive in cooler weather. Mulch what needs extra protection from the cold. And when that’s done, kick up your feet and enjoy an inspirational book (I recommend Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter or The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball).

Now’s the time to start jotting down your ambitions for 2018. When you come home from a trip to the grocery store, take inventory of the produce you purchased. Start making a list of what you’d like to take a shot at growing next year. Foods like squashes, potatoes, onions, and garlic – these have a long storage life after harvest and are relatively easy to grow. Jars of pickles, crushed tomatoes, jams and jellies – these are just a few edibles that can be made with home-grown fruits and veggies with kitchen tools you likely already have on hand. Learn how to build a simple hoop house or cold frame to extend your growing season. Now’s the time to dream.

As the earth begins its descent into winter slumber, take time to slow down and celebrate the one thing that truly unites us all: food.

Happy holiday season, all!

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