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Lala land, CA
Hello! I'm Alex, an early 30-something who resides in downtown LA with my husband, pup, and portly cat. I work in TV and Film, oscillating between different departments as I weave a web of a career and try to figure out how to be a better person. As a collector of beautiful things I'd like to take this opportunity to share the little things in life that make me smile...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

it's the little things that make me smile: today it's fresh fruit

I have been inhaling fresh raspberries and blueberries lately.  Everyday my husband and I eat at least a pint of each...and I swear that this season they are the best ever!  I also just bought a bunch of peaches from the farmer's market in downtown LA and am planning on making an upside down peach cake (I usually make a plum version) so check back in the next couple of days so see how that turns out.

The following fruits and veggies are in season this month and next (and some of their health benefits) so get out to your local farmer's market and load up!  And don't be afraid to stock pile - you can always make jams and can leftovers so you can savor summer all fall and winter!

Fresh fruit - so simple, so pretty, so good for you, so yummy.  Truly a little thing that makes me smile!

June & July fruits & veggies in season:

-Strawberries - high in age defying antioxidants
-Blueberries - improves memory
-Raspberries - lower blood pressure and raise HDL (the good cholesterol)
-Cherries - contain melatonin and can help regulate sleep patterns & aid with jet lag
-Plums - better for keeping your eyesight than carrots!
-Peaches - maintain healthy urinary and digestive functions
-Watermelon - helps combat the inflammation that contributes to asthma, arthritis, and diabetes
-Apricots - helps prevent heart disease
-Kiwis - more vitamin C than and orange, more potassium than a banana, fiber & vitamin E
-Corn - lowers risk of intestinal problems like colon cancer
-Lettuces - the dark green leaves have folic acid which is essential in preventing early stage birth defects
-Cucumbers - improves your skin's complexion
-Tomatoes - cancer fighting lycopene
-Green Beans - little know fact that they pack an important omega 3 fatty acid punch!

For what's in season during other months click here.


Every year I make jams for brunch get togethers or as gifts and they are so ridiculously easy and yet never fail to impress!  Below are two of my all time favorite (Peach Rosemary and Simple Strawberry) and you can find some more great recipes in this month's Sunset magazine.

2 pounds fresh strawberries, hulled
4 cups white sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice

In a wide bowl, crush strawberries in batches until you have 4 cups of mashed berry. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, mix together the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to high, and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil, stirring often, until the mixture reaches 220 degrees F (105 degrees C). Transfer to hot sterile jars, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch headspace, and seal. Process in a water bath. If the jam is going to be eaten right away, don't bother with processing, and just refrigerate.

To test for jelling
Place three plates in a freezer... after about 10 minutes of boiling place a tsp of the liquid of the jam onto the cold plate. Return to freezer for a minute. Run your finger through the jam on the plate... if it doesn't try to run back together (if you can make a line through it with your finger) it's ready to be canned!

3 pounds yellow peaches, peeled
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
4 3/4 cups sugar
4 large sprigs fresh rosemary
Halve and pit peaches, then cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. Transfer to a large bowl. Add lemon juice; toss. Add sugar and rosemary; toss. Cover; let stand, tossing every hour, for 4 hours (sugar should be completely dissolved).

Put peach mixture into a large, wide pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until liquid is syrupy, 12 to 13 minutes. Crush lightly with a potato masher, leaving one-quarter of the wedges intact. Skim foam from surface. Discard rosemary sprigs.

Seal and process: Fill hot, sterilized 4-ounce jars with hot jam, leaving 1/4 inch space in each jar's neck. Wipe rims with a clean, damp cloth; cover tightly with sterilized lids and screw rings. Transfer jars, using tongs or a jar clamp, to the rack of a large canning pot filled with hot water, keeping jars upright; cover with water by 2 inches. (Jars should be spaced 1 inch apart and should not touch sides of pot.) Cover; bring to a boil. Process jars in gently boiling water 5 minutes. Transfer to a rack; let cool 24 hours. If lids pop back when pressed, they are not sealed; refrigerate immediately, and use within 1 month. Sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place up to 1 year.

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