An embarrassment of riches

Well, here we are – in the thick of it.

Summer has hit us full force with that wonderful sunshine and heat we all anticipate so impatiently. With the heat comes the tourists, a part of summer many people like not as much.

The good news is, the heat also means the bounty begins. Get your appetites ready, people.

First, we have berries. At our house we have two kinds of raspberries, huckleberries, currants and gooseberries. Thankfully they don’t all ripen at the same time.

However, there are times when I can go out and eat my fill as I pick a big bowl of everbearing golden raspberries and it doesn’t even look like I was there. We make jam, jelly, scones, fool, ice cream, tarts, financiers … we eat them on yogurt in the morning and on salad in the evening. And still they come. If berries were currency, I could retire tomorrow.

But they aren’t, so instead I’m just happy filling my cheeks like a chipmunk.

Then it’s apricots. I never tasted a fresh apricot as a kid, but even dried they tasted a bit like sunshine. Fresh off the tree, they are sublime, and in a tart or a crumble they add a delicious tangy buttery taste with other fruits.

This tanginess is delicious in fruit salsa too, served with chicken or fish, so don’t go thinking fruit is only for sweet dishes. The one thing I wouldn’t do with apricots is freeze them. They lose much of their punch once thawed.

Just enjoy them in season as much as you can. Don’t wait – there are more fruits ripening right behind them that you need to taste as well.

The next Okanagan delicacy is usually cherries. These are my absolute favourite; regular readers will remember my stories of how much of a luxury cherries were when I was a child. I could put cherries in just about anything, but my favourite way to eat them is from a bowl.

Cherries are a symbol of decadence, giving that feeling of being spoiled but waiting for the universe to correct itself and punish us at any moment. Too good to be true, you know? (I am reminded of that old Erma Bombeck book, “If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?” every time I fill the bowl.)

The best way I have of tempering that feeling is with a simple recipe: Clafoutis. Breakfast or dessert, but rustic either way.

Once you’ve eaten your weight in cherries, then it’s time for peaches.

If you’ve never had the chance to eat a peach right off the tree, warm from the Okanagan sun, make that your mission this summer. It’s a divine experience.

When you don’t have an orchard handy, a good way to enjoy peaches is in crumble or cobbler. Or you could grill them and serve them with a drizzle of honey, some chopped toasted nuts and a bit of vanilla ice cream or yogurt.

Amidst the continuous barrage of fresh fruit ripening on the trees, there are also the veggies. Some of them take all summer to develop – don’t ask anyone with a garden if they need tomatoes in late August. But the one vegetable that is the poster child of over abundance is the zucchini. You can never grow just one zucchini.

Growing zucchini is satisfying. They are hard to kill once you have them in the garden, and the more you pick the more you get. You have to pick them regularly because as soon as you miss a day, you’ll go back and find one the size of a football.

Forget Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, I’ve had bad dreams about fast-growing squash overtaking the world. My best defence has been to make zucchini loaf. To help offset the idea of feeling it was too healthy, I added chocolate to the recipe.

I hope this little “A to Z” of fruits and vegetables will give you some inspiration this summer. I know you want to eat ice cream and drink cocktails on the patio, but make sure you save some time for the delicious bounty out there.

Happy munching!

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About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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