August’s tender, tasty fruit

Being a farmer is a tough job. You are a slave to the seasons and the weather. There are no guarantees. This past spring was a fine example: wonderful for urbanites, a disaster for rural folks. The mild winter and early spring told the fruit to “hurry up, bloom”. Bloom they did. Then a frost struck, and 88 per cent of the apple crop was destroyed, along with devastation to peaches, plums and apricots. For an office worker, it would be something akin to being called into the boss’s office on a Friday only to learn you are fired. Your plans, income and future are terminated. So it is with the farmer.

We are blessed, because many continue to farm on and work to overcome all these challenges. We, the consumer,  still have the best of their crops. This August, remember to savour every bit of peach, pear, plum and apple. They are a labour of love.

Thai Noodle Salad
These Far East flavours from Foodland Ontario feature our own local fruit and vegetables. It makes a tasty salad to tote for a picnic or expedition.
1/2 pkg (454 g) 10 mm rice sticks
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into julienne strips
1 cup (250 mL) cucumber cut into julienne strips
1 cup (250 mL) julienned sweet red pepper
5 plums, pitted and sliced
2 green onions, sliced thinly on the diagonal
1/4 cup (50 mL) soy sauce
1/4 cup (50 mL) fresh lime juice
2 tbsp (25 mL) each, vegetable oil and seasoned rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp (25 mL) minced fresh cilantro (coriander)
1 tbsp (15 mL) each, maple syrup and Asian garlic chili sauce
2 tbsp (25 mL) crushed toasted peanuts (optional or substitute other nuts)
Bring large pot of water to boil; add rice sticks, return to boil and cook for three minutes. Add carrots, cook for four minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain well and place in large serving dish. Add cucumber, red pepper, plums and green onions; toss.
Dressing: In small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, lime juice, vinegar, oil, cilantro, maple syrup and Asian garlic chili sauce. Add dressing to salad and toss well. Garnish with peanuts or other nuts if desired. Serve immediately.

Ceviche Trout Salad
The term ‘ceviche’ refers to cooking the protein, in this case fish, with an acid such as lemon juice. In this way it is considered safe to eat raw. However, if you prefer, oven bake the trout at 425˚F (220˚C) with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil for about 15 minutes (no longer or it will toughen). Let the fish cool, then proceed with the recipe as described below.
1 lb (500 g) skinned and cubed rainbow trout fillets cubed into 12 inch (1 cm) pieces (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup (125 mL) lemon juice
1 large nectarine, finely chopped
1/4 cup (50 mL) each, finely chopped green onion, and sweet red pepper
2 tbsp (25 mL) minced Ontario cilantro leaves
1 tbsp (15 mL) minced mint leaves
2 tsp (10 mL) finely chopped jalapeno pepper
1 tsp (5 mL) each, minced ginger and garlic
2 tbsp (25 mL) lime juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) fish sauce or soy sauce
1/4 tsp (1 mL) sesame oil
red lettuce leaves
rice crackers
In small glass bowl, combine trout with lemon juice. Mix well to cover trout with juice. Refrigerate for at least two hours or until fish flakes easily when tested, and for up to eight hours, or bake fish as described above. Cool fish and proceed with recipe. In separate bowl, combine nectarines, green onion, red pepper cilantro, mint, jalapeno pepper, ginger and garlic. Stir in lime juice, fish sauce and sesame oil. Cover and refrigerate. Pour off all lemon juice from fish and discard; add fish to nectarine mixture, combining well. Let stand for 10 minutes. (Can refrigerate mixture for up to 24 hours.) Place large scoop of mixture on lettuce. Serve immediately with remaining rice crackers.

Jasmine Mint Spritzer with Peaches and Plums
A wonderful summer refresher featuring Ontario maple syrup, peaches and plums.
2 cups (500 mL) boiling water
2 cups (500 mL) water at room temperature
4 tea bags, jasmine or green tea
4 sprigs fresh mint
3 plums, pitted and sliced
2 nectarines, pitted and sliced
3 tbsp (45 mL) maple syrup
2 cups (500 mL) ice
1 cup (250 mL) soda water
In large heat-proof container, combine boiling and room temperature waters. Add tea bags; let steep for 20 minutes to one hour. Discard tea bags. Pour tea into glass pitcher. Add mint sprigs, plums, nectarines and maple syrup. Stir. Refrigerate for up to two days. To serve, place 1/2 cup (125 mL) ice in glass (or enough to fill halfway.) Top with tea mixture until three-quarters full, ensuring some fruit and mint sprig in each glass. Top last one-quarter of glass with soda water.

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