Summer fruit sauce:
This is an easy way to use lots of fresh or frozen small summer fruits, and not be too worried if some of them are getting a little ‘old’.
Small or soft fruit, such as blueberries, raspberries, blackberries
Honey or maple syrup
Cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, ginger, or similar ‘sweet’ spices
Lemon or cinnamon basil, lemon grass, or similar garden herbs
Clean the fruit, remove pits, stems, and other non-edible parts. Because this will be cooked, it is not as necessary to be really picky about ‘perfect’ fruit, as long as it is not green and fuzzy or otherwise inedible. Put the fruit into a bowl at least twice as big as the amount of fruit. Mix in the flavors you want to use, depending on what herbs or spices you prefer. If using garden herbs, shred the leaves finely (except lemon grass, which must be removed when done cooking). Have fun trying different flavor combinations. Place this in the microwave, and cook until the fruit is all juicy and very soft. You will need to stop and stir this mixture often, or else it will boil over, even in a large bowl. When it is all cooked, you can mix in more flavors if you want, as some of the volatile oils in the fresh herbs will cook off. Now is also the time to mix in the honey or maple syrup. Sweetener is not needed, so you may want to try some without extr a sweetening first, and th en add to your own liking.
This sauce can then be used over pancakes, waffles, French toast, ice cream, and mixed in with hot cooked cereal such as oatmeal or other grains. It can even be eaten straight, and used to flavor that fresh goat yogurt you made yesterday. The extra can be saved in the refrigerator for a few days, or frozen for a winter treat.
Variations: Other fruit, such as peaches, plums, and such can also be used, but will need to be cut up first. As long as it cooks down into a syrupy mixture, it will work well. Here is an easy way to cut up a peach: Cut vertically all the way around the peach once, then cut all the way around the fruit again to make an X shape where the two cuts overlap. Finally, cut horizontally across the first two cuts all the way around, and you will have 8 somewhat small pieces fall off the pit.
One more way to use up the fresh fruit, and cool off in the process.
Fresh fruit, such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, peaches, cherries
Cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, ginger, vanilla or similar ‘sweet’ spices
Sweet garden herbs, such as fennel or mint
Super dark chocolate
Nuts, such as walnuts, cashews, almonds
Remove all inedible parts of the fruit, including any slightly fermented or old spots. You need to be a little pickier with your fruit for this recipe than above, as it will not be cooked. Put the fruit single layer on cookie sheets, and place in the freezer until frozen. Also put slightly over ripe bananas, peel and all, into the freezer. You really only need frozen bananas, but if it is a hot day out, and you enjoy this drink outside, it will thaw and get runny quickly.
After the fruit is all frozen, remove and fill about ½ the volume of your blender or food processor. To peel the bananas, place in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds, just long enough to soften the peel. Slit the stem end of the peel, pull it back about an inch, squeeze the banana from the other end, and it will slip right out of the peel. Use the bananas to fill most of the rest of your volume. Or, make just enough for one tall glass for yourself, if you prefer. If you want to, you can also put in some yogurt, cream, or similar at this point to give a slightly smoother texture, but this is not necessary.
Blend this mixture until smooth. Add in the nuts, chocolate, and flavors, and blend again until the bits are fairly small, but not totally obliterated. Pour this mixture into a tall glass, and sit back and enjoy in the shade of your favorite tree or front porch. This is a very thick drink, as I add in no ice, and can serve as a full meal when the heat has you feeling like you do not want to eat.
Summer grilled cheese sandwich:
Here is an easy variation on the tomato and egg sandwich I had earlier. Instead of being an open sandwich, this one is a closed sandwich done in a frying pan. I would imagine it can be toasted, as well.
Basil, other garden herbs to taste
Sharp cheddar or other flavorful cheese
Sesame or similar oil
Slice the tomato very thin, about ¼ inch. Slice the cheese a little thinner, if you can. Rip up the basil and other herbs. Put the oil into the frying pan and warm it up a little bit. While the oil is warming, put the ripped up herbs on one slice of bread, the cheese on top of that, and the tomato slices on top of the cheese. Grill in the frying pan, about 1-2 minutes per side. I find the cheese melts more completely if a lid is put on the pan.
There you have it, a full flavored grilled cheese sandwich.
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