With the approach of each new season, we look forward to the promises it holds for new experiences, time-honored family events, and changes in the weather to accompany our activities. On this first full day of fall, the 22nd of September, also known as the Autumn Equinox, we say goodbye to the Summer of 2021. For so many in our communities, and especially here in South Louisiana, this past summer did not measure up to our hopes for carefree days and relaxation in the summer sun. The new challenges of the Delta COVID variant, followed by Hurricane Ida, upended the lives of so many, especially here in South Louisiana. It is because of the resiliency of the people in South Louisiana, who rise together to meet each new challenge, that there continues to be hope in the future. That hope is nurtured by looking back and recalling the sweetness that past seasons have provided.

I can recount that sweetness of this past summer of ’21 in the simplicity of several distinct occasions. On a long weekend getaway to Biloxi, Mississippi, my husband and I happened upon the Blueberry Festival in Ocean Springs, a short ride across the bridge in Biloxi. There we sampled Blue Bell ice cream topped with strawberries and blueberries and met a delightful lady who was a vendor at the festival. She was selling blueberries grown at her farm, Old River Road Blueberry Farm, in Vancleave, Mississippi. After exchanging contact information and returning home with jars of her blueberry jam and pepper jelly, we connected over recipes for blueberry bundt cake and blueberry delight.

A stop for lunch in a café along the quaint, tree-lined Main Street afforded an opportunity to satisfy my curiosity about a new appetizer, smoked tuna dip, which proved to be very tasty. After searching similar recipes on the Internet, I have reworked the recipe into one I have now enjoyed serving to family and friends.

As summer allows for a more relaxed pace, on one leisurely Saturday I caught an episode of the famous French chef, Jacques Pepin, on an LPB segment on television. In this program Pepin spoke of his cookbook, “Jacques Pepin, Quick and Simple.” The book piqued my attention as it was written for those who value good food but find themselves with little time or energy to prepare it, and I had to acquire it. With over 250 recipes, this New York Times Best Seller contains directions for meals requiring less effort in preparation and clean-up. In addition to vivid, colorful photos of the prepared recipes, between the pages are also found pictures of watercolor paintings done by this talented and creative chef. I have enjoyed reading through the appetizing recipes found in the book, in addition to learning the basic ingredients for a quick vinaigrette for salads containing olive oil, red wine vinegar and Dijon mustard.

Even as we long for the return of the Sugar Cane Festival, we can look forward to the days ahead with cooler weather coming right on schedule for the first days of fall. We can anticipate the sweetness of the sugar cane harvest, an industry which adds an overall annual economic impact of $3 billion dollars to our state, and be grateful for the nearly 17,000 farmers, their staff and families who dedicate their lives to this industry. We can see fall and winter produce of new varieties of apples, pears, pumpkins, and squash returning to the grocery shelves, and smell the fragrant aromas of pumpkin pie spices and gumbos drifting through the air.

Food memories are intertwined into the seasons of our lives, and with the approaching celebrations of the fall and winter months, and the family favorites that accompany the celebrations, we can be assured of much sweetness in the days to come.

The following recipe is my adaptation of the tuna dip discovered in our summer travels.

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