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In Season for August
Summer seems to have gone by so fast! It is not over yet, but shorter, cooler days are approaching. Now is the time to indulge in all your favorite summer fruits, try that new fresh dish you've been meaning to make all summer, and to finally take that afternoon off for a picnic! The beautiful days and nights of summer are still here, and so are all your summer produce favorites. Enjoy them to their fullest!
These fragile peach-like fruits, with their perfumed aroma and ultra-sweet flavor, contain impressive amounts of beta-carotene. They are also a fair source of potassium, and supply a good amount of fiber.
- • Mini Meatball Appetizers with Apricot Dipping Sauce
- • Dessert Pancakes
- • Brandied Dried Apricot Jam
Trivia:Apricots are known as, "Moons of the Faithful" in China where they originated. Their cultivation spread westward from China to Persia and the Mediterranean, eventually coming to the New World with Spanish settlers.|It is interesting to note that both the fresh and dried apricot are a main food staple of a tiny Hunza principality in the Himalayas, who are known for their extreme longevity, excellent health, and an almost exclusive vegetarian diet.
Avocados are commonly thought of as vegetables, but they are actually fruits. These delicious creamy fruits are known to be high in fat, however, keep in mind that it is a healthful fat. They add a creamy mellow flavor and texture that complements a wide variety of dishes.
Trivia:Avocados date back to 8,000 B.C., and are native to Mexico and Central America.|Until recent years, the avocado had a well-entrenched reputation for inducing sexual prowess and wasn't purchased or consumed by any person wishing to protect their image from slanderous assault. Growers had to sponsor a public relations campaign to dispel the ill-founded reputation before avocados became popular.| Avocados must reach full maturity before they are picked, but they will not soften on the tree. The tree is actually used as a warehouse; the fruit can be kept on the tree for many months after reaching maturity.
Tips:To ripen an avocado, place it in a sealed plastic bag with a ripe banana at room temperature. Another method is to bury the avocado completely in a jar of flour. Do not refrigerate avocados until they are ripe.
Sweet, juicy cherries are one of summer's best treats. There are several delicious varieties to choose from, the most popular being the Bing, the Lambert, and the Rainier. Bing cherries are large, round, extra-sweet with purple-red flesh and a deep red skin that verges on black when fully ripe. Lambert cherries are a smaller, heart-shaped red cherry similar in taste and texture to the Bing. Rainier cherries have golden yellow flesh and skin with blushing rosy overtones, and they have a flavor that is sweeter more mellow than the Bing. The month of August is generally summer's last opportunity for fresh cherries, so enjoy them while you can.
- • Tomato and Mozzarella Bites
- • Lemon-Pepper Ribeye Steaks with Roasted Tomatoes
- • Garden Vegetable Salad
Trivia:Bing is the leading variety, developed first in Oregon by a pioneer grower, just over 100 years ago, who named it for one of his Chinese workmen.
Trivia:Maize is the proper word for corn, taken from the Indians of the New World who introduced it to European explorers and settlers. The word corn goes back to Biblical days, and means any particle of grain or any small pellet of anything. In some lands, corn meant wheat; in others it meant barley or oats. Only Americans adopted the word to describe maize.|In many American dialects, the word for corn meant, "that which gives us life." Indeed, corn was the dietary staple of Indians. Aztec and Mayan civilizations were built on a corn economy, as corn provided food, currency, fuel, fodder for animals, silk for smoking, sugar and even fermented beverages.
Try this beautiful purple vegetable marinated and grilled on spring greens with your favorite vinaigrette, or with basil, provolone, and roasted red peppers on crispy Italian bread. Choose a firm, smooth-skinned eggplant that is heavy for its size; avoid those with soft or brown spots.
Trivia:Originally an Oriental ornamental plant, eggplant got its name from yellow and white fruited varieties with egg-sized fruits. |In India and Medieval Europe, eggplant was credited with remarkable properties as a love potion. By the 16th Century, northern Europeans were calling eggplants, "mad apples" in the belief that consumption would cause insanity.|Eggplant were brought to America by Spaniards as "berengenas," meaning apples of love.|Ladies in the high society of China once made black dye from dark eggplant skins and used it to stain their teeth to a black lustre, a fashionable cosmetic use.
Super nutritious, with a clean flavor that is tart, yet sweet, pink grapefruits make a great snack. They are also excellent paired with many varieties of fish, and are great for added zing in salads.The three major types of grapefruit include white, pink/red and Star Ruby/Rio Red. Each variety has it's own unique flavor nuances, but they all have a clean refreshing, sweet-tart flavor. Grapefruits are traditionally halved, then eaten with a spoon, but they can also be peeled or sliced and eaten like an orange. Grapefruits are excellent paired with many varieties of fish, and are great for added zing in salads.
Trivia:The principal ancestor of this subtropical evergreen was called pomelo, brought by a captain Shaddock to Barbados from the Malay Archipelago. The pomelo fruit, borne in clusters that gave rise to the name grapefruit, was also called shaddock, and is quite different from the grapefruit we know today. | In the mid-1700's, grapefruit was called, "Forbidden Fruit." |The West Indies were the point of origin for grapefruit, probably as a cross between the pomelo and an orange. It came to Florida in 1840 where a seedless fruit was found fifty years later and propagated to give us the Marsh Seedless variety.
Tips:Grapefruit keeps at room temperature for at least a week. For longer storage, refrigerate in a plastic bag or in the covered vegetable crisper.
The Bartlett is the leading summer pear and the most popular variety. Large and juicy, a ripening Bartlett turns from dark green to golden yellow, often with a rosy blush.
Trivia:Pears are cousins of apples. American varieties come from Europe, where they migrated from central Asia. Early colonists brought the first trees to America where they thrived until blights became severe. Most pears are now grown west of the Rockies where diseases are less of a problem.
Tips:Ripen pears at room temperature in a sealed plastic bag with a couple of ripe bananas. When the pear is ripe, refrigerate until you are ready to eat it.
A wonderful combination of tangy taste and crunchy texture, bell peppers are the Christmas ornaments of the vegetable world with their beautifully shaped glossy exterior that comes in a wide array of vivid colors ranging from green, red, yellow, orange, purple, brown to black. Although peppers are available throughout the year, they are most abundant and tasty during the months of August and September.
Trivia:Although plums are native to Asia, Europe and America, most U. S. production is in the Japanese varieties which are red and yellow (European varieties are blue and purple). | The difference between plums and prunes is small. Plums are clingstone (the pit does not separate easily from the flesh) and prunes are freestone. While there are at least 125 prune varieties, most (except for Italian prunes) are grown for drying.
The Pluot is flavorful cross between a plum and an apricot. It is quickly becoming a favorite summer fruit. For anyone who loves all the soft stone fruits of summer, this one is a must-try!
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Trivia:The Massachusett Indian word for "eaten raw" is "Askutasquash." An important Indian food, few white men shared the desire to eat squash raw, until the past few years when raw summer squash types began to appear in salads.| Squash was unknown in Europe until early explorers returned from America with squash seeds.
Swiss chard is a good source of beta-carotene and dietary fiber. Also known as chard, these greens come from a variety of beet grown for its stems and leaves, not its root; their distinctive flavor is akin to (but milder than) that of beet greens. The dark green leaves are wider and flatter than beet greens, and they have a full-bodied texture.