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Last Saturday we welcomed in the first day of the fall season. Unfortunately for Floridians, that doesn’t mean much. It’s still 90+ degrees outside, and my risk of sunburn has yet to subside. I’ve lived most of my life in Florida, but I swear that the summer heat has intensified over the last few years.

Since the moment September rolled around, I’ve been practically begging for a drop in temperatures and permission to start making soup again. Pumpkin spice everything may have already made its debut, but I’m just not ready. There’s something not quite right about sipping a warm holiday-spiced coffee when I can’t even put a sweater on yet.

Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of pumpkin-flavored things. (I know, I know, don’t hate me!). But what I am a fan of is 65-degree weather. Ankle boots, oversized sweaters, and bonfires. I want to walk through corn mazes and search for that perfect pumpkin with a whimsical curly stem. And while the weather isn’t yet cooperating with my dreams of a breezy, beautiful fall, it is on the horizon.

So take heart, friends. This season isn’t just about cooler temperatures, it’s also about the memories we make and feelings we create as the holidays approach. This recipe sits right in that sweet spot, where Florida meets fall. Where warm, sunshiney days meet candied nuts and fragrant spices. Where we choose to enjoy some of our favorite flavors of autumn, while still celebrating the agriculturally rich area in which we live. Despite my desire for a picturesque, leaves-changing type of season, I’m incredibly thankful to live in a place where fresh flavors are available year around.

Happy fall, Lakeland.

CRANBERRY SALSA & GOAT CHEESE SPREAD

GATHER:

  • 12 oz fresh cranberries
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 lime
  • 1/3 cup raw honey
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 8 oz log of goat cheese
  • crackers for serving
  • extra honey for serving (optional)

MAKE:

  1. Rinse and dry the cranberries. Dice the jalapeno, removing the stem, seeds, and ribs. Zest the entire lime.
  2. Place the cranberries, diced jalapeno, lime zest, cilantro, and spices into a food processor. Squeeze in the juice of HALF the lime. Pulse the food processor until the ingredients are chopped finely, in a texture like chunky salsa.
  3. Remove the blade from the food processor and mix in the honey with a spoon.
  4. Place the log of goat cheese on a serving platter, and spoon the cranberry salsa over the top. If desired, drizzle on a little extra honey. Serve with a hearty cracker and pray for cooler weather!