Here are the 50 quintessential fall foods, drinks, and things you MUST do this season to get another punch in your Basic B Fall card, from eating Apple Cider Doughnuts at the cider mill to wearing Uggs, with links to the best recipes and resources. And yes of course, Pumpkin Spice Latte is on this list. Shall we?
Eat Fall Foods
1. Pumpkin Everything
Pumpkin appears earlier and earlier every year—Starbucks launched their Pumpkin Spice drinks on August 24th this year!—but I can't say that I'm mad about that.
Pumpkin Spice Cold Brew Coffee
2. Epic Tailgate Party Foods
3. An Apple a Day
4. Fresh, Ripe Figs
5. Back to School (and Work!) Fall Foods
Breakfast-to-go, workday lunches, afternoon snacks, fast and easy weeknight dinners
What to do with a Rotisserie Chicken
7. NFL Sunday Funday Brunch
9. Oatmeal for Breakfast
10. (Not) Avocado Toast.
Avocados are a summer fruit in California, but that doesn't stop us from smashing, slicing, and spreading them onto toast year-round because we are practically in Mexico, which supplies almost the rest of the world outside California. However, there has been some drama related to avocados from Mexico that I'm too stupid and lazy to research in depth, but have heard enough to draw the conclusion that our cooler season's avocado supply has been total crap in terms of both supply amounts and actual quality. So maybe let's try to make toast with other things.
Ricotta and Butternut Squash Toast
11. Rosemary and Sage
- How to Make Fried Sage
- Butternut Squash Ricotta Toast with Fried Sage
12. Brussels Sprouts.
I will never give up roasted Brussels sprouts, but every once in a while a fresh perspective does good for your appreciation of the bitter, sweet, caramelization of roasting.
15. Winter Squash
Butternut squash is just the beginning. Make this the year to check out acorn squash, delicata, kabocha, and relatively new hybrid, teeny tiny cute little Honeynut squash!
16. Sweet Potatoes
Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Feta and Pomegranate
Crispy Smashed Sweet Potatoes
17. Crudité Platter with Fall Fruits and Vegetables
Cheese boards and charcuterie plates don't get their own numbered lines here because they are always in season.
I feel like I'm cheating by putting oysters on this Fall list because not only was it on the Summer list, but I didn't actually eat any oysters this summer, or any summer for that matter because oysters are fucking terrifying, so it's like I failed and have to give myself another chance to fail, kind of like what happened with Physics 8A, which is a freshman class that I had to take three times.
19. Bone Broth
21. Braised Chicken
Let's be honest. I make braised chicken year round because I just do. Though it's in the same family as slow-cooking, chicken cooks much faster.
22. Hearty Slow Cooked Meats
Gone are the days of flash grilling foods out on the patio. Fall means slow-cooking big, heartier cuts of meat like short ribs and making stews.
23. (Leftover) Halloween Candy
26. Fall Pies
Apple Pie, Pecan Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Sweet Potato Pie
Thanksgiving made healthier. I know. Roll your eyes. But here's the weird thing. I think this is the year, THIS IS THE YEAR, that 1) my family is willing to break from traditions, namely the Green Bean Casserole without protest and 2) they want foods to be healthier. This comes of course, from all of our, my sisters and I included, aging, and with aging, comes health issues. Hallefuckinglujah! Roasted vegetables! Green salads! Cauliflower puree! But mostly, no more fucking green bean casserole. I also think every year is THE YEAR.
Drink Fall Lattes, Wine, and Cocktails
28. Pumpkin Spice Latte. Up until a couple of years ago, I had never once in my life had a Pumpkin Spice Latte, aka PSL for those basic bitches in the know. I finally tried one. I don't ever need to drink one again. This is on the list not for me, but for you.
29. Carrot Ginger Turmeric Juice. Carrot juice is a warm, welcoming, wide-open gateway to juicing because carrots have natural sweetness so the juice tastes fucking delicious. Until you add fresh turmeric to up the health factor and then carrot juice tastes worse than straight up lawn mower clippings because turmeric tastes like dirt. But anyway, start with carrot juice, and if you can stand the heat, ginger. And if you're already drinking this combination (I am!), it's time to level up to adaptogens.
30. Hot Dark Chocolate
31. Hot Toddy
32. Mulled Wine
Pumpkin Beer. Fall Rosé. I am just being realistic here. Pumpkin Beer will never get checked off this list, because I don't always drink beer, but when I do, fuck that, I still drink rosé.
34. Beaujolais Nouveau
Do Fall Activities
36. See Fall colors. I live in Los Angeles. I have no idea how to do this.
37. Fall cleaning. Because I live in southern California, there really is no SOP for prepping the house for the Fall and Winter like clearing debris out gutters, weatherproofing windows, or even switching bedding from summery linen to warm winter cashmere. What we DO do, at least what I do, is do a deep clean of the kitchen, specifically the refrigerator and pantries.
38. Go back to school. And learn something. Anything. For God's sake could you just read a book?
39. Tailgate in an actual parking lot and watch a live football game
40. Visit wine country and go wine tasting
Harvest in California starts as early as August and can run through November, depending on the region and the wine. Fall is a great time to visit because the vines are heavy with grapes, some of the leaves may start turning golden, and the wineries themselves are buzzing with activity. Napa and Sonoma are obvious options, and here are some slightly under-the-radar California regions that absolutely deserve a weekend getaway, listed North to South:
- Anderson Valley, a tiny, remote AVA in Mendocino County, about 2½ hours north of San Francisco
- Monterey County, well-known as a tourist destination for a whole host of other attractions, but wine is becoming a bigger draw!
- Paso Robles, inland and part of the larger Central Coast AVA, well known for some of my faves, Rhone varietals
- Santa Ynez and Santa Maria Valleys, smaller wine producing regions within the grater Santa Barbara region
- Santa Barbara, both the city, and the greater wine region that was named Wine Enthusiast's Wine Region of the Year for 2021
41. Watch the World Series. Which is really just an excuse to eat Dodger Dogs with Farmers Market Fresh Toppings and all the other trash stadium foods.
Wear Fall Style
42. Boots. Not ankle boots, or booties, or even Uggs really which are a category unto themselves so depressing that they have been relegated to last on this list (see #50 below), but 100% legit boots that reach up to your knees to protect your jeans hems, pant cuffs, and legs from the elements if you live anywhere but southern California, and even over-the-knee-boots, to protect your modesty when you're wearing ass-grazing hemlines, probably in southern California.
43. Dark nail polish
44. Fall uniform. I don't know about you but my fall uniform is also my summer uniform, just worn in the Fall. Zip hoodie and black yoga pants.
45. Knit beanie
47. Short, dark hair
49. SPF. Every day. Oh, the sun's not as strong because it's Fall so you think you can get lax about SPF? That is precisely why you have to be hyperaware. Here are some of my favorite sunscreens, and yes, having SPF in multiple products as layers is not a bad thing:
- Facial moisturizer with SPF
- Face Sunscreen, my all-time favorite SPF 46, a little pricey
- Drugstore facial sunscreen (<$25), mineral-based, little to no white cast (depending on skin tone)
- Foundation with SPF, SPF 50, sort of heavy coverage, but hey, it's fall/winter
- Compact powder with SPF to re-apply SPF over makeup through out the day
50. Uggs. Ugh. Look, I'm not saying Uggs are stylish. I am saying they are acceptable to wear in the Fall because they're truly functional for warmth and actually coordinate with your fleece-lined leggings and quilted puffer.
Extras for Fall
These are things that were originally on the full 90-items-for-90-days of Fall Eat Drink Do Wear list but edited out because the "F" alliteration of Fifty Fall is so much more satisfying. They are included as an afterthought here anyway so that if you did do them already/anyway, you can check them off and feel accomplished, kind of like the way you write-in "Walk the dog" on Your To-Do list after you've already done it anyway just to feel better about yourself. Oh, no, not you? Ok, never mind.
- Apple Cider Doughnuts
- Caramel Apples
- Go Apple Picking
- Visit a Pumpkin Patch
- Get Lost in a Corn Maize Maze
- Carve a Jack-o-Lantern
- Roast Pumpkin Seeds
- Eat the Candy that Only Comes Out Around Halloween Like Candy Corn and, That's About It I Guess
- Wear a Halloween Costume
- Throw a Halloween Party
- Go Trick or Treating
- Wear New Yoga Pants. Please. Even if they're from Target. Just throw out those faded, fraying, pilling, thinning-in-all-the-wrong-places "pants" you've been trying to pass off as pants in Life.
- Celebrate Día de Los Muertos
And there you go. Let's compare notes on the last day of Fall, December 20, then start the Winter List! Which, to be honest, will be so easy because it has only, like, four things on it.