What to Cook: Time to Shift Gears


North African meatballs.

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

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Good morning. Go look at the birds today, if you can. They might be over by the highway, getting into formation for the long run to warmer air. They might be out on the harbor, picking bait off the surface as bass and bluefish crash beneath them, fueling up for their own migration south. The geese are beginning to move on the ponds, as are the ducks, the mute swans with their grunts and hisses. For all the terrible news of this morning, for all the heartbreak and terror, this is still, as Robert McCloskey put it, a time of wonder, a time of change. The temperature may be summery where you hang your hat, but the birds know the score. It is fall now, time to gather your provisions even as your heart swells with fear, time to shift gears.

So it won’t be caprese for dinner tonight, as it has been these last three Mondays. (It could be eggplant, but we’re done with the grilled corn.) Instead, maybe something hearty: chicken wings with gochujang, ginger and garlic, for instance, and a viewing of “The Bletchly Circle” on Netflix. (Or, you know, the Redskins-Chiefs game.)

You could take a look, as well, at our recipe for North African meatballs. That would be nice with couscous, no? Or Mark Bittman’s superfast recipe for shrimp toast? There’s nothing like a 20-minute dinner prep at the start of the week, especially if the day goes poorly and all you want to do after work is drink an adult beverage and daydream about retirement on the Great Loop.

But then tomorrow morning you can move along from those warm-weather breakfasts of fruit and a fast bowl of cereal, or just the cereal and a pint glass of cold cold-brewed coffee. With the sun coming later, it would be nice to read the paper while eating a ciabatta egg sandwich with tomato jam or, failing that, a warm, buttered flour tortilla wrapped around a fried egg with a splash of hot sauce and as many leaves of cilantro as you can harvest off the bunch sitting at the bottom of the crisper.

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