Posts Tagged ‘fruit’

The evenings are stretching out, long and lazy and golden. My balcony garden is putting out leaves. Another Commencement has come and gone, as has a delightful Memorial Day. And I’m craving ginger peach tea, blackberry cobbler and bright sandals (with a fresh pedicure, of course).

sunset cape cod

It’s officially summer, no matter if the weather in Boston occasionally veers back toward crisp or downright chilly. So here’s my list of what I plan to do, see, taste and savor this season:

tomatoes corn farmer's market

  • Visit the farmers’ market at Harvard – every week if possible. Buy loads of fresh produce, especially berries and tomatoes.
  • Go to Shakespeare on the Common – they’re doing Twelfth Night this year.
  • Visit Prince Edward Island and go see Green Gables, which I’ve wanted to do for years.
  • Host my parents for a visit, and take them up to Cape Ann, north of Boston. (My dad will love the fresh seafood.)
  • Dig into some summer reading. (Maybe I’ll make a syllabus like Anne.)
  • Drink fruity summer teas, eat Ben & Jerry’s, and balance it all with salads.
  • Go to an outdoor movie.
  • Tour the Longfellow House, which is right down the street from my office.
  • Spend lots of time outside – reading, lounging, walking, relaxing.

What’s on your list for this summer?

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agatha christie n or m nectarine summer

This is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

—William Carlos Williams

A little whimsy to conclude National Poetry Month. Happy Friday.

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winter gear essentials

This winter. I mean, seriously.

A blizzard that prompted a snow day, wild swings from mid-50s to single digits in the same week, piles of powdery icing-sugar snow that melted into gray sludge, only to refreeze into hard, icy lumps. And it’s not even the end of January.

This is my fourth Northeastern winter, and the third one with significant amounts of snow. By now, we know the drill: stock up on tea, warm socks and heating oil; buy ingredients for soup; pull out the down coats and the heavy-duty boots; and hunker down. Winter comes to Boston to stay a while.

I tell people, over and over, that the right gear makes a huge difference in how I survive the winter. Here’s the stuff that is saving my life this winter:

  • Keen snow boots, bought at the end of last season when my old ones (inherited from my sister) gave up the ghost. Lightweight, warm and waterproof.
  • My down coat – knee-length, hooded and toasty. (I got mine way on sale at an Eddie Bauer outlet several years ago.)
  • Fleece-lined tights, which Santa put in my stocking.
  • A bright cocoon coat. (I own the green one above, though they’re not selling that color this season.)
  • My enormous collection of tea. (The blend above is from Harney & Sons.)
  • And the mug my sister bought me to drink it in.
  • Tiny, tart-sweet, zesty clementines.
  • Lip balm, cuticle salve and hand lotion. (I love Burt’s Bees so much.)
  • My new slippers (a Christmas gift from J).
  • The electric blanket J bought two Christmases ago.
  • All the knitted cowls (I have five) and cozy scarves.

By the way, that image up there is my very first Photoshop collage. Color me proud!

What are your winter gear essentials? I’m always looking for more secret weapons against the cold.

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berries red farmers market

All sorts of red goodness at the Harvard farmers’ market.

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The other day, as she often does, Sarah had a great idea to jazz up this month a bit – to put a little more swing and spring into the everyday. (She’s good at that – spicing up the everyday with yummy recipes and thought-provoking questions and lovely bits of insight.) I decided to try her Charmed Life Challenge – a wonderful list of 60 ideas to make August a little more fabulous. And I have to say, it’s working so far.

Strawberry gelato on my lunch break

I love it when friends – in the blogosphere or outside of it – whisper these reminders in my ear. Reminders that I can live a charmed (and charming life), and that it’s often up to me to make it happen (since, unfortunately, I don’t have a movie crew following me around with a dreamy soundtrack or a glamorous wardrobe).

Sometimes I forget how much of a difference the little things can make. I forget to make the bit of extra effort to buy flowers or eat fresh berries (straight from the cardboard pint), or dine by candlelight or give something broken a new life. And sometimes it just feels like too much work – like I can’t possibly take the time to make lemonade or gaze at the stars or listen to someone’s life story.

Fresh blueberries at the Copley Square Farmer's Market

But I usually can find the time, make the effort, slow down a little bit to enjoy the everyday moments. I can put on a favorite skirt or steal a little time for quiet reflection or sit in a cafe and write down my dreams. And when I do, I feel like Meg Ryan walking down the New York streets in You’ve Got Mail, music playing behind her, or like Kate Winslet turning her face up to the Santa Ana winds in The Holiday. I feel more alert, more attentive to all sorts of glorious possibilities. As though anything could happen.

How do you make your life feel more charmed (or charming)?

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1. Longer, warmer days, which, thank God, have already begun.
2. Turning off the heat for the summer.
3. Sandal weather.
4. Dinner on our balcony.
5. Katherine and Andrew’s visit in just one week.
6. Bethany’s wedding in June.
7. Spending Fourth of July in Boston – I hear it’s spectacular.
8. The Becks’ visit in July.
9. My parents’ visit, later in July (and a Red Sox game!).
10. Cookouts.
11. Fresh tomatoes.
12. Fresh summer fruits.
13. The next few weeks of my seminar at Grub Street – the first class was fabulous.
14. An anniversary getaway on Cape Cod.
15. Farmers’ markets.
16. More lunch breaks out on the Common.

(Can you tell I’m anticipating the summer?)

What are you looking forward to these days?

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For as long as I can remember, we’ve made blackberry cobbler for my dad’s birthday and Father’s Day, instead of cake. He likes it better, and his mom used to make it for him, with dumplings instead of the traditional crust. I’ve always loved to bake, so I’ve been helping my mom with it for years. And when I went to Oxford in ’04, the bulging baskets of plump, shiny fresh fruit at the open market – even in mid-winter – practically begged to be made into cobbler.

I expanded my repertoire big-time that semester. Blackberry, raspberry, apple, strawberry – even a mango crisp, made from damaged mangoes bought at a discount, carefully peeled and chopped, and sprinkled with a mixture of oats, butter, flour and cinnamon. We chopped and peeled apples, washed handfuls of delicate berries, sliced the tops off strawberries and stirred them on the stove with sugar and lemon juice. (I say “we” because my girlie compatriots in House 10 frequently helped me. I couldn’t believe how many of them had never had cobbler before!) That summer, Jenny and Kyle asked me to make a big strawberry cobbler for their rehearsal dinner, and I gladly did, dough-sticky fingers and all.

For the next two years I made cobblers for dozens of House 9 potlucks and birthday parties. During this time, Jeremiah met my cobblers – and it was love at first sight, particularly with the strawberry. Ever since then, the magical phrase “I’m making a cobbler” has been one sure way to light up his eyes.

The summer fruits are out in full force this year, and I’ve already made strawberry, blackberry and blueberry cobblers. (With dumplings, of course – always mixed up from scratch.) It really is the easiest dessert in the world, and one of the freshest, yummiest, most tasty, most colourful things about summer.

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raspberry spree

I have loved raspberries passionately since I was a child. This is common knowledge if you’ve ever eaten fruit with me, or heard me reminisce about trips to my grandparents’ farm in Ohio – which had a bank of raspberry bushes in the front yard. (Even twelve years and several hundred chigger bites later, nothing beats the taste of those raspberries, picked fresh and popped immediately into my mouth while the juice stained my hands.)

The other night I was too tired, hot and cranky to bother cooking a real meal, so I went to the grocery store (because we were out of bread, and other important things). I came home with blueberry yogurt (because they had no raspberry in my favorite brand), a mixed-berry smoothie, a punnet of fresh raspberries and a pint of Haagen-Dazs raspberry sorbet.

I even have a book whose title poem is about raspberries, part of which I will reproduce here for your pleasure:

The Raspberry Tree, by Stoddard King

When I and the universe disagree,
I go and sit by the Raspberry Tree;
Under the ripe red raspberry rows
I lie on my back and wiggle my toes,
And listen for hours to the song in G
That the cuckoo sings
In the Raspberry Tree.

It isn’t your fault (the cuckoo sings)
That people are people, and things are things.
That wheat and barley are cheaper than chaff,
And two times two is three and a half;
It isn’t your fault that swans are geese
And dreams are sold for a dime apiece;
It isn’t your fault
And it isn’t your loss
That a stitch in time will gather no moss.

(There are two more stanzas before this last one:)

To be, says Hamlet, or not to be,
But I sit under my Raspberry Tree;
Thinking thoughts that are silly and kind,
I lie on my back and wiggle my mind,
With my soul attuned to the song in G
That the cuckoo sings
In the Raspberry Tree.

Have a great weekend!

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