One visit to the farmers markets around Seattle (my personal favorite is the University District Market on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and we realize it's fall harvest time. Gone are the bunches of fresh basil, pints of luscious blackberries and bouquets of dahlias and zinnias. In their stead are towering piles of potatoes of all sorts and colors, turnips, rutabagas, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.

In celebration of the harvest, as well as an excuse to bring far-reaching family and friends together, we will soon celebrate Thanksgiving.

While the main course requires little imagination for most of us, the supporting players can stretch our culinary brains and talents. Of course, there are the traditional mashed potatoes, peas and sweet potatoes with brown sugar and marshmallows. But how about wowing the folks with some fabulous original side dishes?

I will forgo my usual scientific descriptors and historical facts about food that usually dot my columns and concentrate on some easy (and some moderately easy) recipes that are fun to prepare to accompany Mr. Tom.

Karen Binder owns Madison Park Café.