River Farms

Summer Fruit, YA Pop Culture Edition

Last night my book club met to discuss that ubiquitous teen tearjerker The Fault in Our Stars. As always, we tried to theme our food to the book.

Here they are, in l-u-v

If you haven't read it, the story is about two teenagers with cancer who fall super-de-duper in love, and I learned that the two stars in the movie also play a brother and sister pair in Divergent, which weirded out those viewers who saw both. Having seen neither, I was good to go.

And here they are in sibling mode

But I digress.

As I was saying, we try to theme the food to the book, so we went with "cancer-fighting." And what fights cancer better than our friends, fruits and vegetables? Since book club takes place after dinner, I have to admit that no one brought a vegetable of any kind, and any cancer-fighting that was going to happen fell to the fruits.

My Peach Crisp (which I neglected to photograph before it was eaten)

There was peach crisp and peach-cherry cobbler and one chocolate cream pie because chocolate is a fruit, right? Or is it a vegetable? A bean or a berry? We need a botanist to step in here.

I know I already went on and on about the fruits in season at the Market, but really--there's more to say.

For example:

My sister has always said that, when they bred the seeds out of watermelon, they also bred out the flavor. After buying this traditional, seedful melon from Alvarez, I am inclined to agree with her. SEEDS = FLAVOR!!!

My lazy kids took some coaxing to try the seedful watermelon, but after they tasted it, there were no more complaints. (I might have given the speech, "When I was a kid, there was no seedless watermelon...etc. etc.") Get one of these melons and see if you don't agree.

Then there's River Farm's Charentais melons:

Like mini-canteloupes, they pack amazing, perfumed flavor, as if everything in the canteloupe had to be boiled down and concentrated. Don't miss these ones either!

This post now ends abruptly. I got a new laptop with Windows 8 and am still in the love-hate, I-love-this-speed/I-am-going-to-throw-the-danged-thing-in-the-street-and-back-over-it stage. But I leave you with this funny recycling idea our book club hostess had, for those darned plastic honey bears. See? Perfect for dish detergent, and much more winsome than the branded bottle!

Breaking Out of the Food Rut

"Round of Hungary with a Padron backdrop" (River Farm's FB page)

A few years ago, a friend of mine hosted a high school exchange student from Mexico, and things have never been the same. Not only because the gal was older than my friend's daughters and provided a (sometimes alarming) preview of the teen years, but because she introduced them to jalapenos, and apparently once you've been with jalapenos, baby, you never go back.

Nowadays, if you open my friend's refrigerator, there's always a jar of sliced jalapenos, to be thrown in quesadillas, scrambled into eggs, tossed on a bland pizza. If that doesn't jazz it up enough, they add their student's favorite hot sauce.

I have to tell you--my own family's tolerance for spicy foods is pretty low. My husband's eyes water; my son complains like there's a blazing inferno if a red pepper flake crosses his tongue. So whenever we eat jalapenos (mostly in last week's pico de gallo), there are no seeds involved. And we gravitate toward the larger, milder peppers. Poblanos for chile relleno? Check. Anaheims or Guernicas for a salsa verde? Sure. And, of course, bell peppers for salads and shish kebabs and roasted for all purposes.

Another great pic from River Farm

Expand your food horizons and check out the selection at River Farms or Alvarez. I found this pepper primer with pictures to help you distinguish all those capiscum family members from each other. This Thursday we even hope to host chef and author Greta Hardin, who would be glad to answer pepper (and other) questions because she's actually written a cookbook called Cooking Your Local Produce (Ward Street Press).

Hardin hails from Seattle, so when she says "local," she means local to us! She'll have cookbooks for purchase and signing as well, if you want to take her knowledge and recipes home with you.

'Tis also the season for that other Mexican-cooking standby, the tomatillo.

Spotted at Alm Hill

As a compulsive reader, I found myself reading the sides of my tortilla chip bag one lunchtime, and they included a recipe for a salsa verde for which I think you can find everything at the Market:

Que Pasa's Salsa Verde

15 fresh tomatillos
2-3 fresh jalapeno or serrano chillies
1/2 small white onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1/3 cup water
6-8 sprigs cilantro
1/2 tsp salt

Remove husks and wash tomatillos.
De-stem and was chillies. Slice onion into julienne strips and set aside with tomatillos and chillies. On a dry skillet, toast tomatillos, chillies, onions, and garlic until slightly brown. Occasional spraying of water on the skillet will prevent sticking. Tomatillos should feel soft and slightly blistered.
Add ingredients and 1/3 cup water into a food processor or blender and puree.
Add fresh cilantro and salt and blend once more until ingredients are well mixed.

Mmm! Then serve it with chips or whip up some enchiladas verdes, and you're in business.

These would be dessert

So lose your if-it's-Saturday-it-must-be-spaghetti mindset and try some of our height-of-the season peppers this week! You might find your life will never be the same.