04 March 2010

A Sweet Welcome Back

It's strawberry season again!  Every February, baskets of the bright red berries begin to pop up everywhere--in grocery stores, farmers' markets, and roadside stands.  Strawberries are a big deal around here, and my family loves to get them from the farm a few miles down the road.  Many of the strawberries in the county are actually quite good--celebrated by an annual strawberry festival that brings floods of visitors with accompanying road traffic--but we love not only that this particulary strawberry farm is about as local as it gets (literally, just a couple miles down the road), but also that year after year, it seems to have among the sweetest berries in town. This farmstand is fairly popular among the locals; many of the customers appear to be regulars, judging by the knowing, friendly exchanges occuring between buyer and seller.  The farmstand's official open date was delayed for more than a week due to uncharacteristically rainy weather mid-February--long enough to remain closed on my birthday, which was a bit of a bummer--but now that the weather has cleared for the most part, my family is able to purchase the sweet, juicy gems at will.  Today, I picked up a half-flat of ripe, firm berries picked this morning.  While I prefer to eat them plain, they're also fabulous dipped in chocolate, macerated with sugar, or piled into a fresh strawberry pie, which is what my mother plans to do with the bulk of today's berry purchase.
Citrus is also ubiquitous in California, and apparently even in late winter, the fruit is still sweet and juicy.  A friend of my father recently gave him a gigantic box filled with a few dozen navel oranges.  I love navel oranges, but the acidity has been wreaking havoc on my digestive system, so lately I've been holding off from eating more than half an orange in any one sitting.  Again, oranges are another treat I like to eat as-is, but with so many at my fingertips, I am itching to make use of them in other ways as well.  I'm thinking something involving couscous or quinoa would be good, but I don't have anything specific in the works yet.
Last week, I haphazardly employed some orange in a tiramisu- and trifle-like dessert comprised of layers of homemade ladyfingers using the recipe from The Vegan Scoop (del Torro, 2009) and vanilla pudding folded with cream cheese (all vegan).  I dipped the ladyfingers in a mixture of amaretto and freshly squeezed orange juice, giving the dessert hints of almond and orange flavors that were echoed in the roasted and orange-glazed almond topping.  It definitely satisfied my sweet tooth.  Next time around, I may add orange zest to the pudding for more of a pronounced citrus flavor.
Because the recent flood of birthdays and anniversaries involved way more sweets than I probably should have consumed, I have decided to cut out refined sugars for awhile, inspired by Veg is Sexy's Super Sexy Sugar Cleanse, and am wholeheartedly welcoming the move.  Of course, this means that the aforementioned dessert is out of the picture for the time being.  (We'll see if it emerges gracefully from the freezer sometime down the road.)  In general, I try to limit my refined sugar consumption anyway, and with the return of a couple of my favorite fruits, I'm confident that I can handle a healthier change of pace while still getting the occasional sweet fix.

6 comments:

  1. A strawberry festival?! Wow, how cool is that! And it sounds like you had a birthday? Happy Birthday, Tiffany!!! Also, good job for doing the sugar cleanse! I am proud of all you ladies who are doing that!

    Talk to you soon! :)

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  2. Oh my gosh! I'm in your blogroll!!! I just realized that! Thank you, Tiffany! I feel so happy and so honored! You are kind! :D

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  3. Valerie,

    Thanks for the birthday wishes! As for the sugar cleanse, I'm not *officially* part of it (I started March 1 and will see how it goes after 14 days); a cleanse makes sense right now and I've been inspired to partake at the right time, I think. I also admire the other ladies who have gathered in support of one another and are sticking to the 30-day goal.

    As for putting you in my blogroll: it's my pleasure! You are such a thoughtful individual, and it truly shows via your kind words and the content of your blog. :)

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  4. I didn't know that strawberries came into season in February!

    I always feel so much better when I am staying away from sugar too. It's hard though!

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  5. Oh, thank you, Tiffany! You must also be a thoughtful person to say such kind things about me! I am very happy to know you! It will be so much fun staying connected! Vegans should blog and be connected--that's what I think!

    Love! :)

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  6. I didn't know that strawberries came into season in February!

    I always feel so much better when I am staying away from sugar too. It's hard though!

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Thanks for reading! Your comments are always welcome and appreciated. :)