Thursday, August 9, 2012

What's in season now?

Garden tomatoes (photo courtesy of Diane Fritz)

Jamie Oliver just posted an article about what's in season now. He lists peppers, peaches, cucumber, tomatillos, raspberries, and celery. I have a few more suggestions below, but no matter where you are, this is certainly a great time to pick up fresh produce. My local farmer's market is just busting out with beautiful produce. So is my garden. Even your local supermarket will benefit from the abundance of fresh produce. There is such a surplus that prices drop on all manner of delicious fresh fruits and veggies.

For instance, in Colorado where we live, there is a bumper crop of both peaches and cantaloupes this time of year. This is a very, very good year for peaches. Right now, peaches from the west side of Colorado where nearly all our local fruit comes from, are on sale for 99¢ per pound. It's definitely time to buy some peaches. Large cantaloupes are $1.25 a piece. Cantaloupes and peaches are both great in salsas. See our post on making fruit salsas if you need a basic recipe.

Warm season vegetables - eggplants, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, corn - are all inexpensive and beautiful right now. You can try out Jamie's Evolution Salad with the tomatoes or our recent recipe for a Cucumber-Yogurt Salad for the cucumber . Or for something kind of different with cucumber, try this stir-fry.

The grapes must be ready in California because the prices here have dropped like a rock. Seedless red and green grapes are on sale for as low as 99¢ a pound this week. Grapes are great to eat out of hand, providing a sweet snack that is much healthier than any candy. For a twist, freeze them and eat them right out of the freezer - a delicious treat on a hot day. Berries are also wonderful this way and if you want to fancy those frozen berries up, check out our recipe below.

We need to gobble up the great produce this time of year because it doesn't last*. Come winter, prices rise and quality drops. Get the good stuff while you can. Enjoy all that summer-time goodness and realize that, like warm summer evenings and baseball, it has its season.

*If you have the space and energy, much of the great produce can be preserved for the middle of winter but that's a whole other post!

Frozen Berries with White Hot Chocolate Sauce
Serves 2

2 oz. white chocolate
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
¼ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup frozen berries

Combine the chocolate, heavy cream, and vanilla in a heat-proof bowl and either microwave it on medium, 1 minute at a time, or set it over a pan of simmering water until the chocolate melts. About 5 minutes before serving, remove the berries from the freezer and place them on individual serving plates. Ladle the warm chocolate sauce over the berries and serve.

Note: You can either buy frozen berries, or freeze your own by placing berries on a flat tray or plate in one layer. When the berries are fully frozen, keep them in a plastic bag in the freezer. Larger berries, such as strawberries, do not freeze well.

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