Category Archives: Fruit

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Ground Cherries

About a month ago, I became obsessed with ground cherries, members of the nightshade family.  Looking like tiny golden cherry tomatoes wrapped in the papery husks of tomatillos, these tasty little bites have a flavor profile reminiscent of pineapple and other tropical fruits.   Ground cherries are a good source of Vitamins A and C, and a cup contains only about 75 calories.  Some people turn them into pie or jam.  I prefer just to turn them inside out and pop them in my mouth.

Ground Cherries

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Hold the Sauce

During the cold winter months, we make homemade pizza almost every Sunday evening.  This time of year, however, the heat of summer generally keeps us from cranking up the oven to the necessary 550 degrees Fahrenheit.  Of course, there’s an exception to every rule, and the surplus of ripe, miniature tomatoes at the farmers market these days triggers the exception to our No-Homemade-Pizza-in-Summer rule.  Fresh mozzarella, sharp garlic, sweet onion, and minty basil are almost mystical compliments to the sweet and savory little tomatoes.  But, please, hold the sauce.  With tomatoes like these, sauce would only interfere with the magic.

Hold the Sauce

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Summer Isn’t Over Yet!

The passing of Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer.  And though that means that most of us will have to wait until 2015 for our next day at the beach, picnic in the park, or weekend away at the lake, the news is not all bad.  The farmers markets are still filled with summer fruits and vegetables, and it only takes a knife and a blender to turn tomatillos into salsa and cantaloupe into juice.  With flavors and colors like those, summer isn’t over yet!

Summer Isn't Over Yet

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Eating Garbage

A couple of years ago I learned that 40 percent of the food in the United States goes uneaten — more than 20 pounds per person every month.  According to the NRDC, reducing that waste by just 15 percent could feed more than 25 million Americans every year, no small feat when one in six Americans is unsure of where their next meal is coming from.

With that in mind, I have challenged myself to eat what I may previously have tossed in the trash or composting buckets.  Beet greens now get sautéed, mushroom stems get turned into soup stock, and squash seeds get dried and toasted. 

A few weeks ago, as I was enjoying the first watermelon of the season, I recalled eating watermelon rind pickles as a child.  They came from the grocery store in tall, skinny glass bottles and, because they were expensive, they were a once or twice a year treat.  I loved them.

This resurrected memory prompted me to ask myself why I was throwing out the rind.  Why wasn’t I turning it into the beloved pickles of my childhood?  After trying a recipe sent to me by a friend, I know I’ll never make that mistake again.   Eating “garbage” can be indescribably delicious!

Eating Garbage

 

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Surprise!

I was away from home last week, working on the other side of the country.  When I returned, a visit to my farmers market was very near the top of my “To Do” list.  Once there, I found the summer produce season at its peak, and amaranth, corn, lemon cucumbers, sweet onions, green garlic, chilis of every variety, baby eggplant, carrots, zucchini, okra, edamame, sugar snap peas, English shell peas, cranberry beans, watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches, cherries, blueberries, and countless varieties of tomatoes, all found their way into my cart.

I still have no idea what I will do with most of it, but I can hardly wait to find out.  I love a surprise!

Surprise!

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Only the Biggest Ones

One summer morning, when I was about 10 years old, my mother  — before she left for work  — gave me instructions for the day.

“Keep an eye on your sister, and make her lunch,” she said hurriedly.  ”Oh, and I bought some blueberries last night; they’re in the refrigerator.  Please wash them so they’re ready for dessert tonight.  You can have a few, but don’t eat too many.”

Then off she went to her job, and off I went to my “work” washing the berries.  My sister, four years my junior, was soon on my heels, so I pulled a chair up to the sink and told her to help me.

“Can we eat some?” she asked.

“Mom said not to eat too many,” I replied. 

“Okay, let’s only eat the biggest ones,” came my little sister’s response.

So we ate only the biggest berries, happily discovering that other berries — which only moments earlier had not been big enough to eat — were now the new biggest ones in the bowl.  So we ate those, too.  

That evening, when my mother returned home from work to discover that we’d eaten all the blueberries, I defended myself and my sister by describing exactly how we’d eaten only the biggest ones.  It was an exasperatingly logical and convincing defense when I explained it just so, and my winning argument not only won us a reprieve from punishment, but it reinforced my newly burgeoning dream of becoming a lawyer. 

It was a long, long time, however, before I was again permitted to wash berries unsupervised.

Blueberry

 

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Rhubarb Season

We can have a legitimate discussion about whether rhubarb should be classified as a fruit or a vegetable, and whether is it best used in sweet or savory dishes.  But please don’t try to convince me that the arrival of rhubarb season isn’t a reason to celebrate.  If you do, I won’t invite you to the party.

Rhubarb Season

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Cranberries, Evergreens, and Snow

When I was younger, I often found myself feeling blue during the first few weeks of each new year, when the holiday season came to a close.  These days, I no longer find myself feeling so down.  Maybe it’s because I spend so much time looking at all the holiday photos I took and eating the holiday leftovers I cooked.  Or maybe it’s because I finally appreciate that January brings with it more cranberries, more evergreens, and — when we’re lucky — just enough snow to make everything a little more beautiful.

Cranberries in Snow

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Seckel Pears

The first time I saw a tiny seckel pear, I was mesmerized and full of questions.  ”Is it just a baby Bartlett pear?”  ”Will it ever get any bigger?”  ”How does it taste?”  The answers, I soon learned, were “No,”  ”not much,” and “indescribably delicious.”

Seckel Pears

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Cranberry Apple Pie

When I was recently given a photography assignment to photograph layers, I thought about the many places that layers appear in our lives.  There are layers in the atmosphere and in the soil.  Our skin has layers, and we dress in layers.  There are often layers of meaning in conversations, novels, and art.  In the food world, there are layers of onions, layers of fat, and layers in a lasagna.  But my favorite layers are the layers of Mutsu apples in a homemade cranberry apple pie

Cranberry Apple Pie

 

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Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge

Many stories claim to be the true explanation for why students have historically bestowed apples upon their teachers as gifts.  One such story is that money was in short supply in the pioneer days, so families paid teachers in food and lodging.  Another account is that the apple represents the story in Genesis of Eve eating from the tree of knowledge.  Regardless of the accuracy of any of the explanations, I can’t eat an apple without thinking of the many dedicated and talented teachers I’ve had throughout my life.  I hope they know how much they contributed to my happiness and success in life, and I hope they know how grateful I am to them.

Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge

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Damson Plums

I stopped by one of my favorite fruit vendors at my farmers market a few weeks ago to purchase plums.  I usually buy the large ones with the bright red flesh, but I overheard another shopper singing the praises of the tiny, little damson plums.  Not wanting to miss out on anything, I placed a few of those in my bag, as well.  When I arrived home, I was delighted to find a sweet, Day-Glo green flesh hidden inside the dark purple skin.  Sometimes big surprises really do come in small packages. 

Damson Plums