Sunday, June 14, 2009

Summer's Bountiful Fruit!

With the heat rising in our city (it's been 90-100 degrees in the last few days!), summer's bounty of fruit is available everywhere. Small vendors set up carts on the sides of the street, at busy intersections, outside the bus and train stations, trying to sell their fruit before it spoils. Watermelon vendors come in from the countryside early in the morning with their pickup beds full of watermelons, wrapped in blankets (to protect the fruit amidst lots of jostling). The price of watermelon will continue to drop as the summer goes on. Usually it falls so low that people literally buy a watermelon and eat it rather than drink water--it's a better value!

The abundance and variety of the fruit available is mouth-watering. Today, I did something I rarely do on a Saturday--I took the girls out to buy fruits and vegetables! A long alley leads up to our apartment complex and within the alley are lots of vendors, selling everything from steamed bread to fresh noodles to grilled meat skewers to fresh fruit and vegetables. Usually my helper, Lou, buys the fruit and veggies we need each day on her way to work in the morning. But today, I did it myself!

Saturday is a full day of work for John--it's the day that classes are held at his English training center. And since Lou is off on the weekend, I usually try to have the frig well-stocked by Friday afternoon so I don't have to take all three girls with me to buy stuff. Late last night, though, we made some plans to have a cookout with friends on Sunday, and so suddenly I needed some things. I loaded Christin in the stroller, the girls both took their umbrellas (commonly used here for shade), and we were off!

So, an errand that would have taken me 10 minutes on my bike, alone, took me 1.5 hours with the girls! But we weren't in a hurry. We meandered. We strolled. We looked at things along the way. We stopped at a grassy spot and picked some yellow wildflowers (i.e. flowering weeds). We stopped and talked to some neighbors. A shopworker gave the girls suckers and brought out little stools for them to sit while I went to buy the fruit.

And what fruit there was! Several types of peaches, apricots, cherries, pears, bananas and apples of course, mangos, papayas, watermelon . . . yum yum!

Then, happily enough, there was my favorite fruit ever, in the whole wide world, the mangosteen. Have you met the mangosteen? Let me introduce you . . .

Mangosteens are known throughout South Asia as "The Queen of Fruit" and are prized for their delicate, citrusy flavor. I absolutely love them. The outer rind is hard and thick, but the soft, white, segmented fruit within is such a treat. I was thrilled to see mangosteens appear in our markets last summer on a regular basis. Previously I had only eaten them in Thailand. When we were there for two months having Chloe, John bought me bags and bags of them!

Here is a mangosteen cracked open and ready to eat! Sorry the picture is a bit dark. Delicious!

This year our family has been cherry-eating fools! I have SO enjoyed the fresh Bing cherries this year, partially because here they are reasonably priced and in the States they were always outrageously expensive, or maybe it was just me that could never afford them. Anyway, our whole family loves them, especially Christin. She can put them away! Cherry after ripe cherry, ahh, now that's summer.

My infatuation with the cherry led me to believe that I needed to make a cherry pie from scratch. I had never done it before, but how hard could it be? Thanks to the Pioneer Woman's recipe for "P-P-P-Perfect P-P-Pie Crust", and the Joy of Cooking's Cherry Pie Recipe for the filling, I had fun making this pie! I even decided to do the woven lattice crust! Topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it was tasty, tasty, tasty!

What do you think? I was pleased and thankful for a good result on the first try--especially since I had to bring it to a friend's house that night! Since then, I read in the Joy of Cooking how easy it is to freeze fruit pies, so I taught Lou how to make pie crust, and to finish the whole process. Now I have two cherry pies in my freezer, ready to be enjoyed long after cherry season is past!

Clara Anne was pretty excited about the pie too! Isn't God good to have created so many wonderfully delicious foods? We are going to be enjoying all of His bounty as the summer goes on. Hope you are enjoying some summer fruits wherever you are!


sandra said...

Rachel, you have such a descriptive pen. I love this post. I was right there with you guys.

Yeah for a wonderful 1.5 hours outside at the market. The sights, smells, practicing good manners, learning new's exploration at its best!

OK - so I am completely impressed with your lattice pie crust. Can't say I've had the patience to go for that yet. I think you've just inspired me.

I've only tried 2 of PW's recipes. I thought the Prune Cake was TOO sweet. Seriously, Hubs nor I could handle the topping. But Hubs LOVES her yogurt marmalade cake.

I'm curious about your price of bing cherries because ours still seem expensive. I've seen them, but haven't bought any.

Good to know you guys have a PB&J back-up plan. Ours is tuna. Lately, I've felt a little sad for our little guy. I keep expecting him to say, "Tuna again, Mommy?" But instead he's like, "May I have more tuna please?" Sure!

Kellie said...

WOW! I'm impressed with your cherry pie- I'll come over and have some. You got me to thinking! Yum! And we have been loving the mangosteen here too - yum, yum, yum!

Enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Jennifer said...

You are such an impressive adventurer in the kitchen!

I just made PW's crash hot potatoes the other night and Bruce is in love! We heated up the leftovers the next morning and put sunny eggs on top. Yummy!

Sometimes I wonder if I want to move to China just so I can have a house helper...