A season of transition 9/14/2021

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  • New & noteworthy: Honeycrisp apples. White nectarines. Bartlett pears. Winter squash: spaghetti, delicata, and butternut. Kiwiberries. Edamame. Some of these things seem not so new? It’s been a minute since I wrote a newsletter….
  • Fresh McGrath’s bread is Friday/Saturday only this week (none on Wednesday/Thursday).
  • New Calicutts hit the shelves: Autumn Harvest spice blend, ground fennel seed, dried Mexican oregano, dried tarragon, and dried thyme. Please note that to comply with Calicutts’ n wholesale terms and conditions we have adjusted prices to match their minimum MSRP on all products. We apologize for any inconvenience.
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My opening line for this newsletter is something like, “We’re in a season of transition,” but I also think….aren’t we always?

Late summer — the tomatoes are dwindling, but the less heat-tolerant veggies, like lettuce and arugula and green beans and broccoli, are starting to return. The zucchini are giving way to the delicata squash, and even the butternut. Watermelons and cantaloupe have largely given way to apples and pears and — arriving Thursday — kiwiberries.

For me, there is something manic about summer. I stay up too late and get up too early and can’t possibly eat all of the things before they start to fade. The evenings of early fall beckon a little less, though, or at least when they do get their claws in me, they let go a little earlier. I always have it in my head this time of year that things are calming down.

Is this true, or has it ever been true? Unknown. Maybe not. Certainly it wasn’t during my years at The Circle School, when fall meant the roaring return of students, and at R&R I know that some of our biggest challenges finding enough space to display all the goodies happen in the early fall.

But as giddy with anticipation as I am in the spring and summer, I also relish at least the idea of a winding down in the fall. The weather this week might not feel so cozy, but I can see the light changing in the late afternoon and evening. Maybe it’s wishful thinking — I could use a slower pace for a minute.

Sometimes I feel a little nostalgic for the light at the market.

In a non-metaphorical sense, we’re entering a time of transition at R&R as well. We’re now two weeks from the end of our USDA grant funding, so I’ve been working on making sure we have all our ducks in a row as we get ready to wrap it up. We’ve also got two new newbies now entering their third weeks, while the younger among our staff have returned to school (though you’re still likely to see them on weekends!).

If my leaning toward fall is low key anticipation, I’ll confess that watching the end of the grant looming is something more like trepidation. I mean — there’s a lot of administrative work that goes into taking government money that I will not miss. But, you know, it’s been worth it.

As I was the last time I wrote about our financial outlook, I remain cautiously optimistic about the post-grant world. We’ve got a great staff, and are continuing, on average, to see decent growth. Our staffing costs are higher than we anticipated, and we’re not quite at our end-of-grant goal numbers, but we’ve come very close to hitting the target a couple of times in the past few weeks, so….if the trend continues, I think we’re going to be okay.

Meanwhile, I want to tell you how excited I am about all the fall goodies coming in from the fields, but truth is that the things that have me most excited lately are those that took a sojourn through our kitchen. Have you had that summer veg soup? I’m obsessed, and it’s nothing but vegetables. (It’s in the freezer now, and still awesome.) The lasagna has saved my life (maybe not literally, but it felt like it) on more than one occasion. And both the hummus (any flavor!) and the grilled chicken breast are true lunchtime staples. I think Dusty and Matt are killing it.

But also, I am excited about all the fall goodies. I can’t wait to do a stuffed delicata, ground beef or maybe ground lamb browned and seasoned and scooped into a delicata boat, baked (on a day cooler than this one) so the fat and seasoning from the meat seep into the flesh of the squash, so every bite is savory and creamy and just a little sweet. I hear it’s great with mushrooms, too, if that’s more your speed. Maybe with some sauteed pepppers, too, to take advantage of them while they’re still around? A perfect transition meal, perhaps.

-Julia