A few weeks ago I wrote about the value of eating locally and seasonally, setting out a mandate to incorporate eggplant and artichoke into my diet throughout the month of August since both are in season. While I have been making progress with the former of the two, the latter has been giving me more trouble, primarily because I forget to buy it even as I walk by freshly stocked piles. There are a lot of reasons for this, one of which is that aside from my artichoke and spinach dip (a fan favourite at most parties!), I don’t often consume this vegetable and it exists outside my realm of normal. I’m still going to try and play around with it in the coming weeks and with a bit more careful planning I hope to discover some recipes to incorporate into my roster. However, my artichoke shortcomings are an anomaly because generally speaking, since issuing myself this food challenge I’ve found that I’m beginning to improve my grocery buying skills, gravitating towards fresher and more seasonally available foods. Lately, the things that continue to make their way back into my kitchen are tomatoes and peaches. We’ve been eating a lot of tomato this summer since my mom, who has the greenest thumb I’ve ever seen, has a garden full of them. Additionally D and I just harvested our first batch from our humble little plant. Rich in vitamin A and C, tomatoes are also a great source of lycopene, and all of this contributes to healthy skin and hair. Moreover, many studies show that tomatoes are linked to reducing heart disease as well as cancer, so the health benefits to tomatoes are certainly there.
The wonderful thing about tomatoes is that they’re fairly easy to incorporate into your diet and I don’t think anything quite compares to a garden fresh tomato so we’ve been consuming most of our haul in salads, as bruschetta (this scene from Julie and Julia always makes my mouth-water and we’ve eaten more variations of this than I care to admit), or simply as a snack with some hummus. However, the reality is that there’s only so many tomato salads we can eat, so we’ve had to get a little more creative to ensure that nothing is wasted. One of the easiest ways to we’ve done this is by making our own tomato sauce, which we save for later consumption. I think everyone has their own version of tomato sauce but here are a few of our favourites, which we’ve adapted over time to create our own perfect balance – opting to include as many veggies as possible into the sauce. For more examples, here‘s a great article about preserving tomatoes and trust me, the work that you put in now will surely be appreciated in the dead of winter. I’m constantly bombarding D with all these random facts about me, in case we ever end up on a newly-weds type game, so D if you’re reading this, peaches are my second favourite fruit – next to watermelon, naturally. I don’t know what to say about peaches other than I love them and if you don’t, I’m not sure we can be friends. Anyway, returning to the matter at hand, in Ontario, our peach season runs from July to September meaning that we have three months of this vitamin and mineral rich fruit. Most of the time I enjoy peaches on their own or as part of my breakfast yogurt parfait but there are also several delicious ways to incorporate them into your summertime routine. For salads, I usually play around with a combination of greens, and cheeses, adding peaches and any nuts I have on hand. If you want to add a bit of meat protein, cured ham seems to be a popular choice with the salty meat adding a nice contrast to the sweetness of the peaches. There are also more peach-pastry-baked good recipes available than you can shake a stick at but I don’t bake so I can’t really recommend any recipes. If you’re looking for a little bit more fun, peaches also make incredible cocktail companions, in both supporting and leading roles – though to be honest, this isn’t actually the healthiest way to consume them but hey, we all need to live a little. For me, I like to keep it simple and usually throw some peaches and fruit to make a white wine sangria, or serve up peach slices alongside some white wine. Anyway you approach it, the outcomes are usually delicious.
So that’s where I am right now, and will continue with my eggplant and artichoke experiments reporting back at the end of the month. Until then, happy cooking, and perhaps more importantly, eating!