When I first read chef Donna Prizgintas’ feature story “Farm Fresh,” I thought, “Now here’s a person who understands the poetry of food.” Her recipes are simple and fresh, her approach to food right-brained and original. I was drawn in by the way she described her anticipation and pleasure shopping at a fall market, and how she selected and paired ingredients for each dish—not simply for flavor but also to delight and tease the eyes and palate.

And, I noted, she knows how to indulge. For example, when she suggests topping her Apple Crisp with Rose-Geranium Whipped Cream, she adds, “The recipe will make more cream than you need for the crisp, but I always like extra for my coffee the next morning.” I love this way of thinking!

On my mind this month
  • Green tea lattes are my new treat.
  • Make the kids’ mac ’n’ cheese healthier by adding beans and steamed veggies.
  • Fun toaster-oven trick: Put the butter on the bread before you toast it!

To glimpse into the mind of such a talented chef was a revelation for a novice like me. A few weeks later, I sampled each of the story’s recipes at our food testing and was once again reminded of her special gifts. How can someone put together such simple ingredients and produce a meal strong in both taste and appeal? It takes skill and courage to let flavors speak for themselves.

Prizgintas’ recipes in this fall story have quickly become standards in my kitchen. I’ve made the Polenta with Fresh Corn, Cumin-Crusted Chicken Breasts, and Pepper and Herb Stir-Fry several times. They are easy enough to pull off after returning home tired from work, yet they taste interesting enough to serve to guests.

Although I’ve never witnessed Prizgintas working in the kitchen, having prepared her dishes myself, I imagine that her style is not methodical but rather instinctive as she tends to her creations. I encourage you to try and delight in one of her recipes yourself this month. Please write and let me know how it goes.

—Jean Weiss