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Summer has arrived in full swing and it turns out that this hot and sticky weather is actually good for something, and that is for its produce.

As “thrifty” shoppers, my fiancée and I are always looking for good deals whether it’s buying generic labels, or hitting up the garage sales.  So it’s not a shock that we also like to shop our produce when it’s cheap, and the good stuff tends to happen in the peak of summer.

Blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, OH MY!

Did you know that just because something does not have the word “berry” in it, doesn’t mean that it’s not a berry?  I didn’t!
Did you also know that peppers including the jalapeño and bell pepper are also considered berries?  Again—me neither!  Not to get all scientific on everyone, but according to botany (that weird chapter in your 5th grade science book that also had similar words in your Health and Reproductive System 101 book), berries are fruit in which the entire ovary wall ripens and become edible.  Gross.

On a much yummier sounding note, here are a couple of sweet recipes to serve at your next BBQ!

Grilled eggplant with a little balsamic vinegar and herbs and olive oil.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, very finely minced
  • 1 pinch each thyme, basil, dill, and oregano
  • salt and freshly grated black pepper

Preparation:

Heat grill.
When grill is hot, slice eggplant about 1/2-inch thick. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper. Brush both sides of the eggplant slices with the oil and vinegar mixture.Place eggplant on the hot preheated grill. Grill about 15 to 20 minutes, turning once.
….and for dessert…
Asian Pear Cake

Ingredients:

  • Fruit Mixture:
  • 3 cups diced Asian pears
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • .
  • Cake:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 large eggs

Preparation:

Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan or spray generously with Baker’s Joy or other similar baking spray mixture with flour. Heat oven to 325°.

Combined diced pears, pecans, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/3 cup granulated sugar; toss. Cover and set aside.In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, salt, and soda; mix to blend thoroughly. With electric mixture on low, stir in oil, vanilla, and eggs until well blended. Stir in the fruit and nut mixture until blended.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 15 minutes. Turn out onto rack to cool completely. Transfer to a serving plate and glaze with a vanilla or caramel glaze or dust with powdered sugar.

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