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The Yard

July 1, 2010
Talk about a fantastic  bonus: My crazy amazing sister agreed to do a guest post, and luckily we caught her on the day that her new camera arrived. Can I go home now!?  Now presenting…Colleen!……

One of the cornfields bordering our property

Summer in the city has a lot to offer, but there’s nothing like July in the country. Why?

This guy will be red in a week or two

Produce. The big, juicy heirloom tomato above is growing not two feet from our back door. Kelly and I grew up in Worcester, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia where cornfields and livestock abound (the first photo was taken from our back yard). Before you get the wrong idea about us bumpkins, keep in mind that the King of Prussia Mall (second largest in America) is practically around the corner and the city limits are about a 20 minute drive away. Our lucky little hamlet just happens to be a bubble of farmland perched inside sprawling suburbia.

July in Worcester means fruit and veggies galore, right in our own back yard. Besides the tomatoes, we’ve got:

Apples!

Not quite ripe yet, just like the…

Peaches!

But the berries are by far the ripest, juiciest, and most plentiful:

Japanese wineberries!

And of course, the best and the blackest:

BLACKBERRIES!

I look forward to these babies all year. The arrival of summer produce means the arrival of summer cooking and baking. The tomatoes will become fresh bruschetta, tomato basil salads, and crock pots full of homemade spaghetti sauce. The apples and peaches will find their way into Mom’s killer pie. And the branches and branches of berries will soon be sauces and compotes and cobblers and crisps.

Which brings me to my first guest recipe, the most delicious and versatile sauce  you will ever make.

BERRY COMPOTE:

2 pints blackberries, strawberries, or whatever’s in season

3 tbs fresh orange juice

splash of liquor, such as brandy, Grand Marnier, or a fruity wine (Moscato works well)

1/3 cup of sugar

1 1/2 tsp arrowroot

pinch of salt

Bring the berries, sugar, salt, and orange juice to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the liquor, then let simmer for about 2-5 minutes, until the berries are softened. Remove from heat and stir in the arrowroot. Let cool to room temperature.

And voila! It couldn’t be easier. The arrowroot is a thickening agent, and the liquor adds some depth of flavor (don’t worry, the alcohol will burn off). Feel free to add your own flair – I’ve tossed in anything from cardamom to candied ginger with equally delicious results. My personal favorite uses for the sauce are over a brown butter pound cake or plain old pancakes with some whipped cream (TO DIE). Also a welcome addition to ice cream, cocktails, certain meats, and chocolate ganache.

Hooray for July!

 

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