Every summer begins with grand plans of visiting the farmer’s market weekly, picking my own fruit through the summer, and planting fresh herbs. These plans rarely come to fruition. Life gets in the way, I forget to water my plants, and I am always late for picking season.
This summer was different. I completely forgot about the mint I planted in the spring, and I only made it to the farmer’s market once, but I picked a lot of fruit and visited a half-dozen local farms across the Seacoast area. I picked strawberries at Hickory Hill Farm in Dover, blueberries at Blueberry Bay Farm in Stratham, apples and peaches at Butternut Farm in Farmington, and more apples at DeMeritt Hill Farm in Lee. I visited Applecrest Farm in Hampton Falls for ice cream and apple cider donuts, and Coppal House Farm in Lee for the sunflower festival (and more ice cream).
I wanted to write about why I think picking your own fruit and shopping at local farms is so important, but I couldn’t put it into words. Luckily, Blueberry Bay Farm did this for me: picking your own fruit teaches children (and everyone, honestly) how fruit grows, it prevents waste, it ensures your food is at peak freshness, and it’s fun. There are a few things I would add to that list: picking your own fruit and visiting local farms supports local farmers, it often pushes you to be creative in the kitchen, and, honestly, I can’t think of anything more delicious than eating an apple directly from a tree in your (figurative) back yard.
My favorite way to eat all this fruit is fresh and raw because, like I said, I can’t think of anything more delicious. But, when I bring home more fruit than I can eat, I have no choice, but to get creative in the kitchen. This summer there have been a lot of fruit smoothies, apples and peanut butter, blueberry oatmeal, warm peach parfaits, apple crisp, and, my all-time favorite, strawberry-rhubarb compote served warm with vanilla ice cream.
Strawberry Rhubarb Compote
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 cups diced rhubarb
- 2 cups sliced strawberries
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup sugar
- Vanilla ice cream for serving
- In a small saucepan, combine water, rhubarb, strawberries, and sugar. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 15-20 minutes. Taste and adjust sweetness, as desired.
- Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
Peach Parfaits (for two)
I snagged a handful of bruised, “dropped” peaches at a discounted rate when I visited Butternut Farm. I brought them home without a plan and transformed them into these yummy (healthy) peach parfaits.
- 2-3 peaches, diced
- 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1/2 tbsp. brown sugar (optional)
- 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 6-oz. container Vanilla Greek-style yogurt
- 1/2 cup crunchy cinnamon cereal or granola
- In a small saucepan, over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add peaches, cinnamon, and sugar (if using). Cook until peaches are soft, about 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Spoon peaches into a bowl and top with yogurt and crunchy topping.