CherryPalooza! Today’s feature? Cherry’melon shrub with fresh lemon verbena. Taking a break to say “hi” as I work my way through the 18lbs of fresh cherries from the lovelies over at North West Cherry Growers and the Washington State Fruit Commission. Check out last week’s homemade maraschino cherries and stay tuned for a couple more CherryPalooza recipes. I’ve never been quite much of a fan of melons, but the American holiday July 4th just screams watermelon. Watermelon is the only melon I can actually tolerate.
Shrubs have became my new favorite way answer to both preserves fruit and livening up a simple cocktail. For a delicious and bright flavored summer shrub using the cold shrub method, I tossed together a couple pounds of cherries, watermelon, and some fresh lemon verbena picked from my garden. For a tasty refreshing cocktail, try a summer take on a classic Americano, recipe below. Cheers!!
Mojitos… what do mojitos make you think of? Summer, bathing suits, rum? For me, it’s a standard mojito that I once ordered at an overpriced Cuban’eqsue bar in Baltimore. A spot where I recall years back hanging with my good friend John sipping minting sugary drinks from a pitcher. Located in a more “bro-dude” part of town, I remember my tom-boy ways, always comparing myself to all the tanned, tiny, sorority type of girls adorned in pastel dresses and beige high heals. Running my fingers through my short pixie hair and looking down at my cutoffs and chucks, I say to John, “compared to all of these pretty girls, guys like “that” would never go for a girl like me.” “Erin (!!), you’d never go for guys like that.” Bam, I knew he was absolutely correct, but my self doubt and body consciousness was still at question. Things have changed, I now realize that I too am and always have been a “pretty” girl. I highlight this quick memory for Body Positivity Week. OK, onto this super sexy jelly…
As a kid I would spend hours watching my godfather slice peaches. He would use his pocket knife to make individual cuts, then eat each slice one by one. If I made myself obvious enough he would occasionally tease me then offer me a slice. Years later (2007) during my trip to Central America, I adopted the ways of that wise man and bought myself a pink pocket knife, interesting story in itself… “no i’m not looking for a knife to stab someone”. I bring up this story because while I was waiting for my stuff to arrive after the move to NC, all I had for cutting was my handy pocket knife. After these nectarines arrived, an entire week went by as I was cutting nectarines, onions, and other fresh fruit and veggies without any kitchen utensils. Thanks to a video tutorial from Mr. Texas I even learned how to open a can with a pocket knife… yes, I almost lost a finger.
So nectarines… this was actually my first time working with nectarines for the blog. I’ve always been quite partial to peaches over other stone fruit as I felt they offered the most juiciness per fruit. Alas, the people over at Washington State Fruit Commission and Sweet Preservation surprised me again. Brainstorming with flavors I thought, “what would go nicely on a salad with nectarines?” First I was thinking marmalade, then I opted for grapefruit juice preserves. Grapefruit and mint (?), awesome. Inspiration for this recipe came from the Local Kitchen blog, with an easy adaptation: I swapped out the watermelon for grapefruit juice. The result: sweet and tart, deep orange in color nectarine, grapefruit, and mint preserves. Tasty, simple, and perfect for your summer morning toast. 🙂
Happy autumn! While yesterday’s high of 89F was a bit of an anomaly here in coastal NH, boots and sweater season has officially begun (for me). After just 5 months of living in Portsmouth I feel as if it might be home for a while… and by “a while” I might mean for the foreseeable future (woah, right? That’s kind of a big deal for me). The people, the culture, the beauty of the area/environment (hello fall colors) continues to amaze me in a completely unexpected way. That being said, let’s see how I feel after my first NE winter. I’m really trying to hold off for a couple more days before diving into fall time fruits and veggies, but as the abundance of apples, squash, and pumpkins at the farmers’ market grows so does my canning excitement (I just bought a vintage Apple Machine today!!).
A couple weeks back, we took a field trip down to the Boston Food Swap for the purposes of “seeing how they do it” and to get the word out about our swap. Albeit the Boston swap had a pretty different feel from ours: security to get into the building (glad we were on the list), free tooth brushes and mouth wash in the bathroom, and free tea, coffee, and beer on tap (that’s what I’m talking about), we confirmed that we aren’t completely screwing it up… whew! As a last minute effort to make something worthy of another city’s swap (I really had no clue what to expect) and because I had 5lbs of ripe to over-ripe limes that I needed to use up ASAP, I threw together this tasty mojito jelly. While I’ve been known to make liquor based jellies in the past, for the sake of a reliable set I decided to omit the rum this time. I probably should have let it set up a little bit longer than I did, but all in all the Boston swappers went crazy for this jelly.
“No really, I’m just going to stop for a second…”. 45 minutes past and 5 pounds of fresh blueberries later… “Having a pick your own (PYO) blueberry farm on my commute home from work may be becoming a problem…”. Over the past month I’ve probably picked around 15 pounds of blueberries from Emery Farm in Durham, NH. $2.50 per pound of berries sure beats $5.99 store bought sub-par berries especially when you factor in the additional pound of “I just need to see if it’s ready” berries that you sampled along the way (I swear I only tried a couple…). Three (cough… six) trips to the farm has made me realize how calming picking berries can be. I have a tendency to get distracted pretty easily… look… shiny… so zoning out while hunting for the perfect berry is probably good for me from time to time. Although the blueberry season here in New Hampshire is unfortunately coming to an end, the wild raspberries and blackberries are just starting to pop off! Late last month I put up several jars of blueberry sage jam, and as I was running out of pumpkin butter from last fall, I decided to fill the void with this crockpot mint blueberry butter. This recipe is super easy to modify in that you could simply swap out or omit the mint for any other herb/spice. I opted for a low sugar option (4 cups of sugar vs. 7 cups) as I wasn’t trying to mask the amazing flavor of all my tediously (OCD a little?) picked berries. The consistency of the final product is thick, smooth, and nicely spreadable. My plan is to use it my overnight oats. Yum!
I’m actually off to Emery Farm in just a few minutes NO not for more blueberries, but for this month’s Seacoast Food Swap!
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