I'm a believer. A convert to the idea that we should, as much as possible, eat locally and in season. Food tastes better, has more nutrition, supports local economy, and keeps costs down if it doesn't have to be shipped across the country. It takes more discipline, doesn't it? Eating in season requires more patience, but also yields more anticipation.
Summer produces such bounty
We have a local corn neighbor who sells his fresh corn by the side of the road all summer long. I've abandoned the grocery store. There is no comparison. Oh my goodness it's like biting into heaven. We could eat it for every meal. I wish I had success growing corn.
Part of the frustration with growing your own food is the weather; you just never know what kind of year you're going to have. Sun, rain, temperature largely dictate the harvest. This hasn't been a good tomato year, but hallelujah, we're finally getting some baby chocolate cherry tomatoes and a few beefsteak bigguns'.
As for blueberries...they are here in full force! Our bushes are finally producing the biggest, beautiful berries we've seen.
Asparagus is here! Broiled for a few minutes with olive oil, garlic, and salt.
The basil is out of control! For a light, summer dish, shred it over tomato, radish, roasted red peppers (from the jar :), cucumber, avocado, whole garlics, and fresh mozzarella cheese. Perhaps a few olives. Drizzle balsamic vinegar and you're in business.
This is the year I finally discovered the choke cherry.
In the seven years we have lived in this house, I have never done anything with this out-of-control bush in front of the house. It has thousands of choke cherries on it. My MIL finally convinced me to do something with the cherries hanging all over it.
The choke cherry is very tart, immediately teaching children to spit it out. Which probably protects them as the seed inside is poisonous (like the apple seed.)
However, these berries will darken and become sweeter. They don't have much fruit to them, just a small pit inside. However, the more I read of the choke cherry, the more I realized what an amazing super fruit it is. And it's very common all over North America. You've probably passed a hundred chokecherry trees this summer and didn't even know it.
There are many things to do with the chokecherry: juice, syrup, jelly, dry them like raisins and the seed is no longer poisonous, grind them into chokecherry flour, make an all-natural chokecherry/honey cough syrup. I went for the easiest option:
Chokecherry juice. The chokecherry has more antioxidants than the super foods blueberry and pomegranate. How to get such juice? Pick the berries, put them in a pot, cover with water (just barely.) Cook on stove until near boiling and the choke cherries turn mushy. Then, pour into a strainer over another pot to catch all the juice, but not the seed. I used a masher smasher kitchen tool to extract more juice through the strainer and ta da - there's your cup of goodness.
The ratio is about 3:1; three pounds chokecherries to one glass/cup of juice.
The juice is tart with a very strong taste. There was only one option for such high concentrated nutrition.
For this smoothie I threw in 1/4 cup amaranth, an extremely nutritious, high-protein seed that will keep you full a good long while. I didn't want to cook it and was curious if the smoothie would be grainy. It was a little bit, but the Vitamix is so powerful that I didn't mind it at all.
Throw amaranth in with some other summer produce, let it soften a bit.
Top it off with choke cherry juice, chia seeds, and flax seed. Give it a whirl!
Make sure the lid is on your blender!
Then, drink up!
Credit goes to Brynne, for the food styling :)
Happy summer! May you also enjoy the fruits of the summer harvest.
P.S. Greens like spinach, kale, and swiss chard are all in-season. Makes a great Soup and Salad.
***post-script: Many people asked me about the apple seed being poisonous. I have read that cherries, pears, and apples all contain a small amount of cyanide and can be toxic. But I've seen my husband eat the whole apple, seed included. AND, this article explains they are only toxic if chewed slowly, and even then, our body can easily digest and take care of it. There seems to be more evidence or anecdotal stories regarding the chokecherry and children eating the seeds, so juicing, drying, and spitting out the seed seems like a safer option. If you've got more insight, please share!