A new look at cooking and home decorating...with an attempt to add more greens to the plate, more vegetarian options & hopefully lots of new ideas to explore

Sunday, July 8, 2007

A Kitchen Gift

My aunt arrived at my doorstep yesterday with a big basket of strawberries. Sadly, it is July 7th and the last week of strawberry picking in New England. Over the past few weeks’ entire families join together and get down on hands and knees to pick berries. The berry fields are hot but the prices are cheap. Perhaps you are wondering as I often have, what is done with all the berries. It remains a mystery to me.

My Aunt went berry picking at least three times this week. Armed with a big floppy hat and layers of suntan lotion, it relaxes her. You might be thinking she makes wonderful things with the berries. Jam. Tarts. Salads. No. It is her preference to give the bags full of berries away as gifts, leaving the final destination up to the recipient. Such a thoughtful gift it makes, I have made a fruit crisp this morning with my batch. Well, what is left of my batch.

The berries are luscious, plucked straight from the warm earth. They are really nothing like store-bought berries neither in taste nor in texture. The skin is much softer and the flavor so sweet it is like eating pure sugar. Even thoughs who think they don’t like berries will find them irresistible, served simply with freshly whipped cream.

Out with strawberries in with peaches. Perhaps we are not yet in the height of peach season though I look forward to their arrival. Part of the beauty of growing up in an agricultural area is that every season to this day remains marked by celebration. We look forward to the annual peach festival later in the month.

This is going to be a week of a heat wave, or so they think. There are Italian sausages in my kitchen ready to be cooked. I plan to braise them with rosemary, rich olive oil, and white beans. I made Italian Tuscan bread early in the week and now have the flavors of the region on my mind. If the dish turns out well I plan to share it. Both inexpensive, and uncomplicated, it would make for a wonderful family dinner.

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