stonefruit "salsa" is colorful and refreshing!

stonefruit “salsa” is colorful and refreshing!

hello friends and family,

i think you will all agree that summer is the season for simple, healthy recipes and impromptu gatherings.  taking full advantage of the vibrant seasonal fruits and vegetables and the warmer light-filled evenings lend themselves to many memorable meals shared with those we love.

we experienced one such evening last week.  our dear friends and neighbors of over a dozen years, the rick/destiny irons family, invited us over to their “temporary” beach house for a cocktail party and barbecue.  (they are in the final stages of a major remodel of their own home.)  in addition to the ubiquitous cheese, olive and wine offerings, we wanted to share a colorful dish from our garden.  for me, the fun and rewarding aspect of growing a prolific edible garden is “creating” something with the ripest produce we are harvesting that particular day or week.  as we are still blessed with juicy, sweet/tart, ripe santa rosa plums, we decided they would be the focus of our dish.  now the question begged:  plum tart, pickled plums and red onions, plum compote, plum gelato or simply a bowl of fragrant plums as an offering?

my daughter, domenica, and i came up with something using many of our favorite flavors, including the plums and limes from our garden.  here’s another “suggestion”, not so much a recipe of how to enjoy summertime stone fruit.


ingredients:  2 cups firm/ripe santa rosa plums, seeded and chopped; 1/4 cup finely diced red onion; 1/4 cup finely diced yellow or orange bell pepper; 1 jalapeño or serano chile, tiny dice (membranes and seeds removed for less heat); 1 large firm/ripe avocado, diced; 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice.  mix fruit, onion, peppers and chile together, gently fold in chopped avocado, lime juice and salt/pepper to taste.

not many ingredients!  definitely quick and healthy! immensely flavorful!  try it yourself with:  grilled pork tenderloin, roasted/herbed tofu, over chicken enchiladas with a tomatillo salsa, as a side to seared scallops, a topping for grilled fish tacos, or simply as a salsa with some hearty chips.

that evening we shared many stories, laughs and memories.  over the course of the cocktail hour the plum “salsa” disappeared and was touted as a successful “creation”.

it’s always wonderful to grow, harvest and enjoy fresh produce, but even better than that is sharing the bounty with people whose company you cherish.  enjoy those impromptu summer gatherings and keep the ingredients simple, seasonal and refreshing…


p.s.  next post:  four varieties of cherry tomatoes…my favorite!

summer…in a jar

the essence of summer...

the essence of summer…

hello everyone –

to celebrate the summer solstice, i thought i’d pass along a simple and healthy “suggestion” for just what to do with the plentitude of beautiful, fragrant and mouthwatering stone fruit the season graciously bestows upon us.

this past weekend we picked several pounds of tree-ripened peaches and nectarines from the CAL POLY/SLO campus orchards.  while picking, you can eat as much fruit as you want, so naturally we enjoyed the juiciest of fruits which dribbled down our chins, made our fingers sticky and overfilled our bellies.  (we then went on to pick three pounds of amazing blueberries…again, all you can eat.  let’s save that story for another post, shall we?)

after packing up domenica’s dorm room, filling every inch of our car with college supplies, we headed home.  though we had only been away for a couple of days, we were pleasantly surprised to discover that our own santa rosa plum was in full production.  branches were drooping from so much fruit, many plums so ripe they had fallen to the ground.

what to do with all this amazing stone fruit which we can all easily find NOW at farmers’ markets, supermarkets or neighbors’ trees?  our lovely solution is not so much a jam, but a “compote” (see photo) of amazing color, fresh flavors, texture and healthy ingredients:

4 quarts mixed (or not) pitted/quartered stone fruit (we leave the peel on); 1 lemon zested and juiced; 1 vanilla bean (optional); 1/2 cup sugar…that’s it!

put all ingredients in a heavy bottomed pot and bring to a simmer for 30-45 minutes or until somewhat thickened and bubbly.  stir occasionally and try not to break up the fruit too much.  let cool to room temperature and spoon into clean jars or freezer containers.  at this point you can refrigerate and enjoy for up to two weeks or freeze for wintertime enjoyment!  the compote is versatile…spread onto toasted country bread with sweet butter, spooned atop greek yogurt or vanilla bean ice cream…it is the essence of summer in your mouth.

there are many pleasures to be had during the summer season ahead, but harvesting ripe fruit, creating something simple, healthy and delicious is amongst the best…only made better when your daughter is home for summer vacation and you can enjoy the fruits of your labor together.  this is going to be a fun/memorable summer!

enjoy the solstice and gather up some stone fruit…


p.s.  we’ve found that contrary to most jam/compote recipes, you really don’t need as much sugar as called for.  we prefer the vibrant taste of the fruit itself without all the added sweeteners.  try it and see what you think…