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Jim and I go on a weekly “Fruit Quest”, that is, we take a drive to somewhere we have never been before, looking for local fruit and vegetable stands where we can buy direct from the local farmers. Since we got here, there has been a huge variety of fruits and veggies available to us. So far, we have been through strawberries, cherries, apricots, sweet peas, asparagus, and blueberries. I was sad when the cherries were all gone, but now there are the most delicious blackberries I have ever tasted.
This week, we drove up to Carlisle, Pennsylvania just because we have never been there before. We took a very scenic route to get there. It took about three hours round trip, through some beautiful countryside. This part of Pennsylvania has been experiencing a severe drought this summer, and the orchards are showing the effects of it. Many of the trees have lots of fruit on the ground where it has fallen due to not getting enough water. Leaves are turning brown and falling as well. Corn is not as tall as it should be this time of year, and flowers are hanging their heads down towards the ground, as if they are praying for rain. Even with the lack of rain, there is still an abundance of fruits and vegetables available, and we took advantage of that fact yesterday, stopping at at least three stands to purchase our produce for this week. We got some squash, eggplants, tomatoes, and onions at one stop where barefooted Amish women where tending the store under a tent at the side of the road. At another place we got nectarines, yellow plums, and blackberries. I have never seen so many blackberries for sale as I have this summer, and they are just now coming into season. I used some of them to make a blackberry vinaigrette salad dressing. It turned out YUM! Here is the recipe:
1 cup fresh ripe blackberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 of a red onion, chopped
3 or 4 sprigs of fresh basil
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients except olive oil in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, mashing the berries with the back of the spoon. Cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Strain out the solid ingredients and pour the liquid into a cruet. Add the olive oil and shake well. Store in the refrigerator. MMMMMMM.
Also, while we were in Carlisle, we stopped at a natural food store called The English Garden. While the proprietor was very helpful and nice, I was not impressed. When he asked what I was looking for, I told him I am gluten free. He took me to an aisle where he has all types of pasta, including regular wheat pastas, all stacked in the shelf together. He told me all of his pastas were gluten free, and they obviously were not. I thought about informing him of his error, but I just didn’t want to get into a debate with him right then. I just hope that his gluten free customers are label readers.