SPILLING THE BEANS

Inching toward a plant-based, whole grain life.

It's avocado time: The only fat fruit gets its own month

Although California haas avocados are in season now, they are approaching peak harvest, so look for them to be at their freshest, most plentiful and least expensive.

Muffins for Mom, and the cookbook they came from

"I've found that a basket of fragrant muffins always pleases both family and friends, and that the cook gets far more credit than the effort might seem to deserve."

Rich's Slow-Cooker Collards: They look so bad but taste so good

Rather than turn to ham hocks for flavor, my favorite recipe uses the often-overlooked smoked turkey legs to impart the expected richness and complexity.

Unstuff it: All the flavor of cabbage rolls without all the fuss

Just because you don't have time for all that fussy stuffing doesn't mean you'll never taste stuffed cabbage again unless you get invited to someone's mother's house for Sunday dinner.

Start a good day with breakfast fried rice

If you use brown rice, you'll be getting much more protein and about twice the fiber that you'd find in the average granola bar.

Please pass the Snert, and other treats from the e-mail bag

No question, one of the best things about writing this blog is hearing from readers.

On Valentine's Day, say it with quinoa

The basket included lemon quinoa muffins that were so delicious that I decided to recreate them, as well as the romance.

For a really super bowl, start with Cincinnati Sans Carne

This vegetarian take on a traditional, spicy Cincinnati Chili uses mushrooms instead of meat, and spaghetti squash instead of spaghetti.

North African spices, heat add zip to butternut stew

The gentle thickening with cornstarch created a wonderfully silky sauce, and the squash retained it shape and texture.

Pork pie recipe forges a new path to a delicious tradition

This quest was passed to my brothers who, in turn, tried their hand at creating that most elusive, perfect meat pie, the one from our childhood, the one to which all others must be compared.

World peace just may start with pie

If John Kerry called and asked me to help end Syria's civil war, I'd bring this coconut custard pie.

Sausage gravy: It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas

My favorite recipe calls for an extra shot of poultry seasoning and hits of nutmeg and hot sauce in the gravy, suspending the sausage in a creamy, decadent blanket of Christmas.

Aunt Iris' penuche — brown sugar fudge that makes one sweet gift

With a butterscotch and subtle maple flavor, it's so decadently sweet, really just a lump of sugar studded with toasty walnuts, but it's so delicious.

In Turkey Tetrazzini, Thanksgiving leftovers go from burden to blessing

It combines common holiday leftovers with some delicious add-ins to create a dish you can freeze, then, sometime in January, bake and enjoy the delayed fruits of your labor.

New meets old in a pie made with squash and oatmeal

Butternut squash pie seems to have fallen by the wayside but when I was a kid, we never ate pumpkin pie. It was always squash.

Feeding the wild vegetarian at your holiday table

You don't have to shove tradition aside entirely, you just have to add some delicious food that doesn't contain meat, and some other great meatless dishes that don't call for dairy products.

Make room for farro at your Thanksgiving table

This coarse, hulled wheat with an Italian pedigree brings a rather neutral flavor, but a delightfully chewy texture to the party.

Believe what you read: Tortellini soup is as good as it sounds

It isn't always true that when I have that reaction to a recipe, I am rewarded with deliciousness when I prepare it. But sometimes, as with this soup, my gustatory instincts are spot on.

Sam I am, I do like green pea soup with ham

Pea soup, for me, is a natural choice this time of year. It's inexpensive. It's easy to make. And it helps me remember that I should never judge anything by what it looks like.

Herb harvest inspires pesto and frozen cubes of fresh flavor

So now that I'm staring down the throat of winter and feel the first frost looming like a full moon over Fishers Island Sound, the thought of losing one flavorful leaf is unbearable.