In the early 1980s, I cut out a recipe from a McCalls magazine for Parker House rolls. It was in the “cooking school” section of the magazine and had step-by-step pictures.

I was recently at a very fancy catered reception at a private home in San Francisco, and all the appetizers were served in ceramic spoons or shot glasses, reminiscent of amuse-bouche in restaurants.

With the holidays getting into full swing, life for most of us is getting hectic. Between all the big meals, the parties, the kids needing treats for their classes, never mind our day jobs – who has time for it all?

Who doesn’t love chocolate truffles? They are the essence of chocolate, and a sure-fire mood enhancer. Pop even one into your mouth and see if you don’t get happy.

These days a typical office, or family, is full of people on restricted or specific diets. Low-sugar or salt-restricted, vegetarian or vegan, low-carb or gluten-free – it can make holiday potlucks or family dinners a challenge. While there are more pre-made treats available now at stores and bakeries, sometimes you just want to make something yourself that everyone can enjoy.

The California season is on and, unlike last year, the catch is plump and plentiful.

The big day is almost here. Here’s what you need to know to get the turkey on the table.

A recipe for sausage like Grandmother used to make

For the cookie-confused, doctor up refrigerated dough for a real, if politically incorrect, chocolate chip cookie.

My definition of the ideal summer cocktail? Easy to make, refreshing to drink. Come the winter holidays, I make only one change: Easy to make, comforting to drink.

I know, I know, Thanksgiving dinner isn’t even on the table yet, and here we are talking about Christmas cookies.

Recipe requests from readers

Thanksgiving is the one time of year when roasting a big turkey is not enough. As cooks, we wrestle with also having to prepare a string of side dishes to please guests.

Some cooks like to change up the Thanksgiving meal. But on a holiday dedicated to tradition, innovation can spark revolt.

This holiday season brings a rare coincidence: Hanukkah starts on Thanksgiving, and pundits have been chortling about Thanksgivukkah, menurkeys and whether it’s kosher to cry “Gobble tov!”

Stop fussing over whether to prepare your Thanksgiving stuffing inside or alongside the turkey. Your life will be so much easier if you just embrace the wonder that is casserole dish stuffing.

I am in need of your help once again. About 55 years ago, when our grandmother was still alive, she used to make a sausage meat mixture (either German or Italian) every fall. It tasted something like the summer sausage we know today.

I saved a casserole recipe from The Bee a while back that included corn, zucchini, and dill and then it was topped with sliced tomatoes. I have since lost the recipe. Can someone help?

In cookbooks and magazines, figs have been catching my eye lately.

New York City has a zillion charms, but it may not be the ideal place to celebrate Halloween. Here’s the problem: Where do you display your jack-o’-lantern if you live in an apartment building with no porch?

Fall makes me think of pears, and pears make me think of that oft-seen salad in which the fruit is paired with walnuts and chunks of blue cheese over lettuce.

This recipe is made with Fuyu persimmons, the ones that are eaten crunchy.

In season in California: Late September through November.

This salad features a brown butter vinaigrette and a pumpkin seed streusel.

Macaroni and cheese is one of the greatest dishes in American history. And one of the most abused.

In season in California: Year-round, but the complex carbohydrates of the potato help make any meal feel more hearty in colder months.

In season in California: Many greens grow year round, and typically Asian greens like bok choy are in season now and bigger greens like cabbage are ready – and sweeter – in winter months. Look for whatever is available that week at your local farmers’ market, as those greens will not only be at their peak of tastiness but cheaper to buy.

In season in Northern California: Late August through December.

In season in Northern California: Mid-November through January

When it comes to sides, most of us tend to get stuck in a veg or starch rut. But the grill gives us an easy way to break out of this.

In season in California: September through January.

In season in California: June to November

You stagger home from a bad day at work – beaten, bedraggled and broke.

The first time I roasted a head of cauliflower was a pivotal food moment for me. It changed my vegetable eating life. Before that, I was able to eat one or two pieces of cauliflower, and even then only if they were smothered in cheese sauce. But once I learned how roasting dramatically changes the flavor of cauliflower, I could eat an entire head straight up. It’s really that good.

Steaming clams in briny broth, the last of the season’s sweet corn, tender potatoes, perfectly charred grilled chicken, maybe a bowl of clam chowder, a lobster or a steak to round out the meal – that’s right, it’s clambake time.

How do you make a big, bold, savory French toast even bigger, bolder and more savory? Instead of building it a slice at a time, you build it by the loaf.

The days of duck as a daunting dish to prepare or rarefied menu item are disappearing. Whether sold in specialty meat shops or sourced in the local supermarket freezer, duck can be found in droves around the Sacramento area. Duck-hunting season begins Oct. 19 and stretches through Jan. 26, as flocks of waterfowl fatten from eating in the region’s rice fields.

Raccoons and composters could become mighty grumpy, depending on how much buzz is generated about “Root to Stalk Cooking: The Art of Using the Whole Vegetable” (Ten Speed Press, $22, 208 pages). San Francisco Chronicle food writer Tara Duggan has one-upped other kitchen-scraps cookbooks with ideas that will intrigue even the most wasteful among us.

We have enjoyed the grain edge bread from BackerBack Bakery and were disappointed when they closed suddenly with no indication of reopening. The grain edge bread is a dense rye bread (might be as high as 95 percent rye flour) containing sunflower kernels, linseed, sesame and rye flakes. It was the healthiest bread I’ve ever tasted. Does anyone have this recipe or something that sounds close? Thank you.

Deanna C. Holman of Stockton and her family enjoyed a delicious and fun dinner at the Ale House in Old Town Auburn.

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