I’ve always considered grapes to be a fall food. Maybe it’s their deep purple color, or that I was always used to concord grapes growing up. Those are a fall fruit, but table grapes are harvested in the summer here. As in right about now.
That’s one of the cool things that one gets to witness here in the Valley. Harvest of just about everything is an incredible operation to observe.
So I bought a few crisp, sweet red and purple grapes, which are really purple and almost black. Beautiful.
They are, of course, good fresh, but they are also excellent roasted. A half hour in the oven and they become even sweeter with caramelized notes. So if you can stand heating up the oven in the summer, roasted grapes are the way to go.
They go well in desserts, on pizzas, and in cocktails…
Pineapple sage was a new addition to the herb garden this year. What an amazing plant. First of all, the leaves taste like pineapple. And it smells like it, too. Mine hasn’t flowered yet, but it will also bloom with beautiful reddish pink flowers that attract humming birds.
It’s taken off well in the garden. Some of the older leaves are burning in the sun, but I was pleased to find some new, pretty growth in the inner part of the plant. It seems to be sticking around.
I had a purple basil plant back in our Kentucky garden. I love the deep purple color it adds to a landscape that is otherwise all green. When I found one here earlier this spring, I decided to give it a go.
After our first hot spell, I thought it had bit the dust. The strong sun here tends to turn the leaves a brownish gray, not the purple I was hoping for. But a couple weeks ago, it started coming back a bit. I’ve upped the watering and it now has new purple leaves peeking out.
Next year I think I’ll try it in more shade, but for now, I have enough purple basil for garnishes and cocktails.
I’m still working on cracking the code for successfully growing food here in the Central Valley. Blueberries and citrus are going well and I can pull off some kale through winter.
Peppers last year were a no go, and I’ve murdered a few tomato plants as well. As I continue to attend workshops and talk with others, I’m slowly gaining more knowledge. I do see a few tomatoes and maybe an eggplant in the near future.
A couple months ago, I bought a bulb of fennel from the farmers market. It had the most gorgeous long stem, overflowing with feathery fronds.
This kind of fennel is harder and harder to come by. Not a chance at our local super markets. They like to chop off the beautiful tops to make the bulbs all tidy when stacked.
It always makes me feel like I’m getting ripped off when I have to purchase fennel like that. I do as much with the fronds as I do with the bulb. So whenever I spot it at the farmers market, I grab it.
Well, this time around I had loads of greenery left over after a project. I started to think about how its licorice-like flavors would pair with the Costco-size bottle of vodka sitting on the counter (don’t judge). I’d had fennel infused cocktails before, but it was as a flavor accent, in the syrup or as a garnish, versus the main attraction.
I’m celebrating Friday and the start of fall with a rum tea cocktail! It’s made with Dark Aged Rum that I received from Cruzan®.
If you asked me to pick my favorite spirit, it would be tough to choose between bourbon and rum. One reminds me of our days living in Kentucky. The other gets me thinking about our many trips to the Caribbean.
Despite summer’s end, rum has won out lately for the taste buds. Maybe its because we have a Caribbean trip coming up in a couple months or maybe I’m just thankful that the temps here are now more beach-like and less I’m-frying-in-the-sun-like.
If you’d told me a few years ago that soon I’d be a regular visitor to the L.A. area, I would have thought you were crazy. I never could have envisioned myself driving around those interstates at all, let alone 3 times in the past 3 months.
These short road trips have been for both business and recreation. I’m getting to know the area better each time and one sign that always catches my attention is the exit for Ojai.
When winter rolls around and citrus season becomes evident across most of the state, I’m reintroduced to my fondness for Cara Cara oranges.
I’ve lost count of the foods I’ve discovered since moving to California. Most have quickly moved to the top of my favorites list, and these oranges are no exception. Considering the positive feedback I get when mentioning them, it seems they have made their way across the country. But I had no idea they existed until 3 years ago.
Quick. If you make these cranberries right now they will be ready for your New Year’s Eve cocktails. And trust me. You are going to want them for your cocktails.
These tart little berries are sweetened with a syrup made of raw sugar, rich bourbon and aromatic whole spices. They take only minutes to prepare and they make a good destination for the half bag of cranberries left in the fridge that you can’t find a use for.
Concord grapes are in a league of their own. I don’t put them in the same category as the red and green seedless table grapes that are common, regardless of the season.
Their flavor and texture sets them apart. The tart skin busts open in your mouth leading the way to a sweet, gummy bear-like pulp inside. I enjoy these qualities so much that I can easily overlook the pesky seeds.