I’m sure you felt the weather changing.

The nights are colder, the sun sets earlier. Last week I was out walking and at 6:30PM it was already dark! Just looking at the trees we know that the summer is over, and the winter is coming.

For the past couple of years, the fall has been very nice – longer, and warmer. This year, here in my region of Lac Saint-Jean, the leaves are still on the trees. This morning, the yellow leaf carpet was rolling out; it was beautiful and fragrant. I love the smell of fall; my father used to make me laugh by saying that I liked the smell of nature rotting!

The fall means many vegetables and fruits – locally grown – are on special in grocery stores. It’s time to stock up!

Fall is also time for me to clean my freezer! I need space for our winter reserve. Everything from last year that I did not use, I unfreeze and give to the chickens, or I put it in the compost. After that cleaning, I’m ready for the grocery store.

I buy leeks, 10 at a time, and cut them very thin and store them in ziplock bags in the freezer. I use them instead of onions – on smoked salmon, in salad, to start a soup, or even a spaghetti sauce. I like leeks’ delicate taste, and uncooked they are easy to digest. Cut and bagged they have a long life in the fridge. The part I don’t use, the green end, I keep to make vegetable broth along with carrot peel, turnip peel, celery leaves and any other vegetable I would throw away! It’s important to minimize food waste.

I also get lots of squash! I must admit that these vegetables are new in my cooking. I never knew how to use them, or if I did, I didn’t like the taste. Now I roast them in the oven after cutting them. My favorite way to serve them is roasted in the oven along with red pepper and Brussel sprouts!

Of course, apple are in season and having apple compote in the freezer is always useful, either to use in baking a cake or muffins or to eat as a dessert in the middle of winter. But, my favorite autumn fruit is pear. Pear compote can also go in the freezer. You can spread the sliced fruit or vegetable on a baking sheet, so they don’t stick to each other, freeze them, then put them in a freezer bag. They are easier to use this way, and you can take out as many as you want and the texture is still very nice. I do that for blueberries as well, my partner is always baffled when I serve them (on ice cream or in yogurt) – he asks every time if I got them at the store!

Take time to stock up on all the healthy, fresh produce that we grow – year round – in Canada!