Winter was chilly, spring was friendly, and summer, well, I’m getting to know summer. Ah, early summer, what is there not to love? So loaded with potential and promises. The birds are chirping, looking for mates, relentlessly. The bees are buzzing in the garden, and making home in our chimney. Hot, sunny, humid. Sounds like what I should be used to. Except maybe the long-day, short-night deal in which I find myself waking up with the sun at 5am and eating dinner only when it finally gets dark enough past 9pm.
The season’s a-changing, and I've been watching it happen at the farmers markets, beginning with the day the heavens cracked open and rained down strawberries. That was when I first became aware of Spring. And then came the nectarines, cherries, plums and apricots. Oh and let’s not forget the pluots.
This is what everyone warned me about when I expressed my passion for farmers markets. You just wait, they said, it’s going to explode on you. True enough, the farmers markets I frequent in the Bay Area transformed from a somber factory of kale and winter greens to a candy land of colorful warm-weather crops. The atmosphere came alive with the holler of sellers and the chatter of shoppers, all busying themselves with the activities of touching, sniffing, tasting and, more often than not, squeezing.
Get that one, that one’s sweeter, someone whispered in my ear when I was deciding between white or yellow nectarines. Out here, we are all friends, looking out for one another. Declare your love for rhubarb openly and a like-minded stranger springs in front of you with a recipe to share. The spirit of community is strong, energised by the gentle warmth in the air.
Artichoke, asparagus, fava beans and tomatoes have all made appearances. I’m eagerly awaiting figs and grapes to be in season and have been told that peaches can only get sweeter in the coming months. Right now, let's revel in the fruitiest, juiciest and plumpest strawberries California has to offer.
Strawberry Mint Sorbet (without ice cream machine)
It's baffling to think we can’t make sorbet because we don’t own an ice cream machine. Especially when it’s 90+ degrees out there, and all you want is something refreshing, something icy, something sweet. This recipe is for those moments, because we know they are coming. Serves 2.
2 cups frozen strawberries
1 frozen large ripe banana
1 cup almond milk/ water
2 tablespoons honey/ maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
7 mint leaves, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
Thaw frozen strawberries and banana at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend/process until smooth. Freeze for a few hours and scoop into a bowl to serve. Or serve immediately as a thick smoothie. Either way it can be enjoyed with a spoon.