Now that the foliage on San Juan Island is revealing autumnal hues, I focus on the ever-changing landscape instead of gazing out wistfully across the blue Strait of Juan de Fuca. As reductions in both temperatures and daylight hours signal the coming winter, I find myself craving heartier meals than the light refreshing salads of summer. Recently, as I scoured the San Juan Island Saturday morning farmers market for meal inspirations, small, brightly colored brussel sprouts caught my interest—a sure sign of the season.

My early months of autumn were spent alternately sailing the Salish Sea and exploring some of its landside gems. Although our chartered expedition yacht was well stocked, we continued to find opportunities to visit local produce stands, like the one on the west side of Orcas Island that displayed the results of a well-tended garden, including some exquisite zucchini that begged to be tasted. I adore zucchini and love how adaptable it is—it can be added to so many dishes. Among recipes in which zucchini is truly the star, Cheddar Lime Zucchini Fritters are particularly delicious.

As you know, my husband, John, and I typically spend most of the year sailing the world, leading training expeditions aboard our Hallberg Rassy 46, Mahina Tiare III. In this most unusual year, one of our highlights has been being home in the Pacific Northwest to rediscover the beauty and bounty of its changing seasons. While we never forget the hearty blackberry vines that line San Juan Islands’ roadsides, it was reinvigorating to renew our personal experience of the constant temptation drawing passersby into prickly foraging for their dark, juicy berries. Blackberries are terrific on morning oatmeal and I even managed to freeze a few bags of them with the intention of making a buckle for a special occasion. In this dish the cornbread rises in patches, buckles beneath the berries in select spots then crumbles when unexpected.

Evening dinner picnics at Jackson Beach have become a weekly ritual for John and I as we both treasure the clear skies and expansive views, plus the peace and tranquility. For a recent picnic, we made a rich, creamy autumn curry that lent a heartwarming vibe to a chilly beach meal, with its tart cranberries offering a seasonal twist.

We have no major plans for Thanksgiving, but we’re certain we’ll be spending many evenings at the beach, where we’ll also give our thoughts to loved ones who are scattered throughout the world. However you’ll be spending and celebrating the harvest holiday, we hope your Thanksgiving is full of flavor and connections that transcend distance.

ROASTED BRUSSEL SPROUTS PASTA

20 oz brussel sprouts, about 5 cups – sliced in half
2 tablespoons garlic infused olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup walnuts
10 oz pasta
Aged cheddar – shredded

Preheat oven 350⁰F. Toss brussel sprouts with 1 tablespoon olive oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Spread them across a lined baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. Add walnuts and bake 5 minutes more. Meanwhile cook pasta as per instructions. Drain pasta reserving ¼ cup pasta water. Toss brussel sprouts with pasta, pasta water, remaining oil, salt and pepper. Garnish with cheese. Serves 4.

CHEDDAR LIME ZUCCHINI FRITTERS

1 lb. zucchini (2 medium) – grated
1 teaspoon salt
2 scallions – sliced
1 egg
black pepper and salt
½ cup flour
½ teaspoon cheddar cheese – grated
1 tablespoon lime juice
Canola or another high heat oil for frying baking powder
¼ cup aged

In a bowl, toss zucchini with salt and set aside 10 minutes. Wring out zucchini using one of the following methods: press it against the holes of a colander, squeeze out handfuls at a time, or wrap it in a clean dish towel and wring away. Return zucchini to bowl, stir in egg, scallions, salt and pepper. Add flour, baking powder, cheese, and lime juice. In a pan, heat a thin layer over the bottom and dollop in small mounds of the batter flattening them with your spoon. Once browned, about 2 minutes, flip and brown the other side. Repeat with remaining batter. Keep fritters warm in hot oven. Serve with a squeeze of lime juice and a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt. Serves 4.

AUTUMN CHICKEN CURRY

4 cloves garlic – chopped
2 tablespoons fresh ginger – minced
3 red chili peppers – chopped
¼ cup coconut oil
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 cups cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion – chopped
1½ lbs. pumpkin – peeled and chopped
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 14oz can garbanzo beans
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup coconut milk
Kosher salt

In a large pot sauté garlic, ginger, and chili in coconut oil for 1 minute. Add coconut, reduce the heat to low and cook for 4 minutes. Add curry powder and tomatoes. Increase heat to medium and cook tomatoes while stirring until they blister and burst; about 4 minutes. Transfer tomato mix to a blender and puree on high until smooth. In same pot, sauté onion in vegetable oil for 3 minutes. Add pumpkin and cook for 5 minutes. Add chicken, garbanzos, broth, and tomato curry mix. Stir in coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Place lid on pot, turn heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Serve with Cranberry Nut Rice and garnish with pomegranates and green onions. Serves 6.

BLACKBERRY BUCKLE

Berries
4 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground ginger

Cake
1½ sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1½ cups flour
¾ cup cornmeal
2¼ teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk

Topping
½ cup rolled oats
½ cup flour
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ stick unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter and flour an 8-inch square pan. In a medium bowl, combine blackberries, sugar, vanilla, and ginger. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Mix in vanilla and salt, followed by the eggs, one at a time. Combine flour, cornmeal, and baking powder. Alternately add flour mixture and milk stirring until the batter just comes together. Spread batter into pan and top with blackberries. In a medium bowl, combine oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter until clumps form. Distribute oat topping over the berries. Bake about 70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.