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Summer's End

1st September 2010

As summer winds to an end, I’ll miss warm weather, swimming, and summer barbecues. However, I’m glad the pressure is off. This summer, I decided to learn how to cook. Perhaps it was brought on by that fateful viewing of Julie & Julia, or the fact that I read instructions on the spaghetti box. Every. Single. Time. The truth is I’m more of a baker. I like precise ingredients and the timer is my friend. I find it difficult to throw a couple of ingredients in a bowl, pop it on the stove top, and relax while it turns into dinner. Did that cook in 12 minutes or 17 minutes? Is it really edible? I haven’t poisoned myself with that hamburger that’s extra rare on the inside?

So in the spirit of summertime and all its laid back, Californian inspired qualities, I managed to use the grill a couple of times and not blow anything up. To my surprise, the culmination of dodging salmonella and e. coli resulted in dinner. Thanks to Kate’s (Marketing Manger, FUP) husband’s catch of fresh tuna and Fred’s (Director, FUP) home-grown zucchini, I was able to prepare a quintessential summer meal, but more importantly, a meal that represents summer in New York. The tuna was caught in the Canyons off of Montauk, N.Y. and the zucchini was grown in Copake, N.Y. (Disclaimer: I couldn’t help myself. I set the timer for four minutes a side EXACTLY on the fish.)

So, while I lament the loss of summertime (you may join in with me, as so many students returning to school already have), I also look forward to autumn when I can return to the simple ease of baking. 2 cups of flour, ½ cup of sugar, ¼ tsp of nutmeg. There are rules about making pies. 50 minutes in the oven, non-negotiable. Look for a golden brown crust. It’s comforting.

As September draws near, I’m glad I live in New York where I can feel the change of seasons. The subtle chill in the 7 a.m. air. The light sharpening across the Long Island Sound.

In a few weeks it will be time to pick apples. McIntosh are my favorite, but Golden Delicious are best for baking. My favorite place is Fishkill Farms. I wind up the Taconic and take a left a Miller Hill Road close to where my cousins grew up. Anticipation builds for apple pie or fresh apple crisp. Inevitably I get carried away and apples overflow, bouncing along the trunk of my car.

I think it’s fitting that we recently announced our Empire State Editions imprint. Autumn is when I feel most like a New Yorker. Perhaps it’s my own interpretation of the phrase “Big Apple” or the way my heels strike the pavement of Manhattan on chilly evenings as I meet up with friends for drinks or plan an afternoon at The Met. I know I am interested in All Around the Town by Paul Bunyan, (forthcoming this November) because I take New York for granted. I’ve only seen the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the Empire State Building from afar.

For more New York inspired activities, I recommend Going Coastal New York City by Barbara LaRocco and Slices of the Big Apple by James Freund.

Katie Sweeney