We’re celebrating hard squash this month, heading toward jack-o’-lantern time. Sure, get out the sharp knife and carve away, but take a look beyond the conventional carving pumpkin at some wild and crazy colored heirloom squash. The Australian Blue Pumpkin has a striking blue-green skin and deep orange flesh. The aptly named Cinderella is slightly flat with a bold red-orange coloring. The Fairytale with its deep ribs has a warm mahogany color. Use any of them for soup, muffins, and bread, or combine with Indian spices in a stew. Look for them at the farmers markets or at Specialty Produce.
Karen Krasne’s Extraordinary Desserts has long been a San Diego institution. The pastries at her Hillcrest and Little Italy shops are stunners, with their fresh flowers, fruit, and ribbons. Now for those who want to try their hand at recreating these special occasion desserts, Krasne has written her first book, Extraordinary Cakes (Rizzoli; $37.50). Lavishly photographed, the book is divided by season, highlighting pastries such as a lemon praline cake, passion fruit ricotta torte, blackberry cheesecake, and a decadent amor chocolat. She includes plenty of tips to help bakers assemble layers and create the perfect finish.
Sometimes a farm does more than nurture the growth of fruits and vegetables. At Archi’s Acres in Valley Center, the focus is also to help veterans create new, productive lives after combat. Karen and Colin Archipley grow gorgeous tomatoes, basil, lettuce, chard, avocados, and other produce—organically and through hydroponics. They launched Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training (VSAT) to teach these skills to vets. More than 50 have gone through the six-week training that includes selling at the Hillcrest and Rancho Santa Fe farmers markets. archisacres.com
For the past eight years pastry chef Cruz Caudillo has tempted the sweet cravings of diners at some of San Diego’s best eateries, including Addison, Blanca, and Heaven Sent. Someday he wants to open a patisserie of his own, but in the meantime, shoppers at the Mission Hills, Little Italy, Pacific Beach, and Leucadia farmers markets can enjoy his decadent caramel sauces. With his new business, Praline Patisserie, Caudillo is creating and selling four sublime flavors: Fleur del Sel, Vanilla Bean, Lavender, and Smoked Applewood. pralinepatisserie.com
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