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Picky? Spring Bears Fruit for Us All

Nothing compares to locally grown fruit picked at the height of ripeness

One of my stomach’s favorite times of the year comes about now, when the weather has turned warm and the locally grown fruits of the spring are in their prime.

While we have available almost any fruit at any time of the year nowadays—greenhouse-grown or imported from far-away climes—nothing compares to locally (or regionally) grown seasonal fruit picked at the height of ripeness.

I am lucky enough to live in Central Texas and enjoy its abundance of peaches, strawberries and blackberries during late spring and early summer. Folks in other regions of the state can avail themselves of locally grown plums, blueberries and wild dewberries.

If you’re lucky, you live close to one of the state’s pick-your-own farms and can harvest a sweet bounty yourself. And if you are very fortunate, you may have your own fruit trees.

Whether I’ve picked them off the bough or from a grocery store shelf, spring’s sweet treats make me glad to see winter in my rearview mirror.

As for the following recipe, there’s really no such thing as a bumbleberry—it’s a mixture of sweet and tart berries. It’s a fun word to say, though, and the taste is fun as well.

Bumbleberry Cobbler

1 cup blackberries
1 cup blueberries
1 cup hulled and quartered strawberries
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
1/8 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine berries, 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, lemon juice and 1/2 cup water in a pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens and remove from heat. In bowl, combine butter, 3/4 cup sugar, flours, allspice, baking powder, salt and milk and mix until smooth. Fold in almonds. Pour batter into 8-by-8-inch baking dish. Spoon berry mixture into center of dish. Bake for 45 minutes or until pastry top is browned. Allow to cool about 15 minutes before serving.

Servings: 8. Serving size: 1 cup. Per serving: 287 calories, 3.2 g protein, 6.5 g fat, 54.5 g carbohydrates, 2.3 g dietary fiber, 219 mg sodium, 36.7 g sugars, 18 mg cholesterol

My wife and I were introduced to this next dish one frosty January morning at a bed-and-breakfast between Fredericksburg and Kerrville. Because of the season, the peaches were not fresh, but the canned ones tasted just fine. This combination has become a breakfast favorite of ours. (But I think it’s much better when peaches are in season.)

Peach Crunch

4 peaches, halved and pitted, or 8 canned peach halves
Cinnamon, if desired, to taste
1 cup whole-grain granola (without fruit)
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup plain or vanilla yogurt

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange peach halves (peeled or unpeeled, your preference), cut side up, in 8-by-8-inch baking dish and sprinkle with cinnamon. If using fresh peaches, bake 15 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Bake canned peaches about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, toss together granola, butter and brown sugar. Remove pan from oven. Top each peach half with about 2 tablespoons of granola mixture. Return to oven for about 10 minutes, or until granola has toasted. Top each peach half with two tablespoons of yogurt and serve immediately.

Servings: 4. Serving size: 2 halves. Per serving: 267 calories, 6.6 g protein, 4.9 g fat, 51.6 g carbohydrates, 3.8 g dietary fiber, 106 mg sodium, 37.3 g sugars, 11 mg cholesterol

May 2011 Recipe Contest