Autumn is well and truly here and I am loving it. The cooler temperatures in the morning make it harder to get out of bed, but scuffing our feet through the fallen leaves in Cornwall Park is fun.
New-season produce has started to arrive. Pears are hard, just how I like to buy them - so I can watch them ripen in the fruit bowl. Tamarillos are starting to appear and feijoas are falling from trees in abundance. It's hard to keep up with eating the fresh ones: they seem to be much larger this year.
The pumpkins are bright coloured, tasty and sweet. And it's this time of the year that I love to bake kumara, rubbed in oil and sprinkled with sea salt.
These vegetables bring a sense of something warm and hearty, but sit nicely alongside a salad or a meal cooked on the barbecue.
If you can get out of the city to the market gardens to buy cheap fruit (or if you grow your own), this is a great time to bottle ready for winter.
Plums are my absolute favourite.
When I was young I had my special pink stew for breakfast - bottled plums, cream from the cow (which we milked daily) and cornflakes, followed by egg on toast and I was off to school. Preserving is back in fashion, and though a little effort is required, come the middle of winter the whole family will reap the benefits of your efforts.
Buying bulk fruit can be daunting so get the children involved in helping to peel the fruit.
I like to add a little extra flavour to my bottling; star anise with plums, lime with feijoas. I love peaches just in their delicate syrup. They are yummy served with vanilla icecream.
There is nothing more delicious - or pretty - than a good fruit tart, especially with an almond mixture on the base for extra flavour. Individual tarts make serving easy or are perfect to take to a party or picnic. Don't forget the dollop of cream or Greek yoghurt.
I've used plum for the tarts today, but they are also delicious with peaches, feijoas or slices of pear. You can sprinkle them with a few nuts if you desire.
I am not a huge fan of mixing fruit with meat, but, trust me, roasting peaches with juicy boiling bacon will be a real hit. Buy your boiling bacon from a butcher and get a size that works for you - either large enough for a crowd or a smaller piece for the family dinner.
Long, slow cooking makes meat incredibly tender. Reserve the cooking liquid to use in soups or casseroles. I like to glaze the top of the bacon for a bit of sweetness and crispiness. With the succulent peaches it is a wonderfully colourful dish.
• Preserved Autumn Fruits