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Christina’s Corner: September 30, 2022

A handful of tiny pumpkins and acorns are scattered on a distressed black table, surrounding a paper tag reading "October."

October starts tomorrow, and I know it’s cliche, but it is one of my favorite months. I’m starting to sleep with my windows open here on the East Coast, and Trader Joe’s is carrying their pumpkin products once again. (Get the Trader Joe’s Spiced Pumpkin Madeleine Cookies.) I’ll try not to be so obvious in my recommendations this month and refrain from suggesting what we’re already socially programmed to do: stomp into the middle of a pumpkin patch *for the gram.*

Eat: Let me be honest: I hate purchasing fresh herbs. I’ll make a recipe calling for 2 tsp. Of chopped rosemary, and then I just watch it sadly wilt in my fridge because I have no idea what to do with it. So when I do go for the tiny boxes or big handfuls of herbs, I want to know they’re not going to waste. Some of this food waste anxiety has been eased in recent months by my involvement in my local community garden, and I have fallen head over heels in love with thyme. I’m serious. Add it to scrambled eggs. Put it in soups and stews. If you’re not a vegetarian like me, pop that on some roasts. Vegan friends, add it to some sauteed mushrooms or caramelized onions and savor the beauty of this flavor.

It’s time for me to reveal my favorite gourmet secret, and plot twist: it starts with boxed macaroni and cheese. On a whim, I bought white cheddar mac and cheese from my supermarket. You know the kind: make the pasta, add some milk, then stir in the powder until you’ve got some passable mac and cheese. But instead of letting that be the end of the story, I grabbed some fresh thyme and added a sprinkle of the leaves off of the stem. I’m telling you, it was a game-changer. I immediately felt like the Barefoot Contessa herself. Try it. You can thank me later.

See: The fall can be a really hectic time of year. In addition to a wide number of birthdays and weddings, it’s also the time when many folks scramble to do pumpkin picking, apple picking, or leaf-peeping. (I can’t believe I just said that, but it communicates my point.) If you have a lot of things you want to do this fall, sit down and get them on the calendar. They don’t have to be huge, but setting aside a night to buy apple cider and watch a fall movie might hold you accountable. You don’t have to host an all-out bash to lean into some fall vibes, you just have to put together a plan to make it manageable.

Do: As I’ve mentioned before, I get seriously bummed out by the changing of the light this time of year. But the changing light doesn’t just affect me and my desire to be asleep at 8:30 PM: it’s also going to be impacting my plants. I’m a proud plant person, an impulse that became a borderline obsession during the early days of the pandemic lockdown. So here is your green tip of the day: shuffle those plants around to make sure you’re optimizing the hours of sunlight. Maybe they need to be moved back from drafty windows or into a spot where the sun lingers for a while. Not a plant person? Consider getting a plant that’s low-maintenance, like a snake plant or a spider plant. I find a little green during the darker months helps brighten my mood.

Have a great weekend!