• Posted by Califia Suntree on September 6th, 2012, 7:43 AM

    Blackberries + peaches wins my vote for summer’s best fruit combo. (Very close second: strawberries + anything.) But if you want to make a blackberry and peach cobbler the size of an ironing board, with local, burstingly ripe organic fruits–well, that’s gonna be one pricey dessert. (Unless you have a peach tree and a blackberry bramble, but I’m talking L.A. here folks.) Yet my mom did make said Flintstones-sized cobbler, thanks to the thrifty cook’s secret weapons: $1 per pound farmers market seconds, and what we like to call “alley fruit.” There has been a random and, it being SoCal, rather lonely blackberry bramble in the alley behind my mom’s house for at least 30 years. Every summer, she gets a steady little harvest to supplement her olallieberry, and avoids paying the $6 per pint going rate for the gleaming black gems. (The caviar of fruit!) Times are catching up with “alley fruit”–what used to be “scrounging” became “freeganism” then “urban foraging.” Now perhaps “hyperlocavoraciousness”? Anyway, the cobbler was massive and beyond delicious, and us two ladies ate the whole thing in three days. Good thing it was so cheap!

  • Posted by Califia Suntree on June 7th, 2012, 10:03 AM

    I don’t know if it’s the weather or the transit of Venus, or just that it takes 22 years for them to reach maturity, but our olallieberry bushes are going bonkers. For the uninitiated, an olallieberry is a cross between a loganberry and a youngberry, which are in turn crosses between a raspberry and a blackberry, and a blackberry and a dewberry, respectively. I have no idea what a dewberry is. (Wikipedia has the full, Game of Thrones-worthy pedigree.) They only fruit for about three weeks a year, and we normally get just a few precious handfuls. But not the class of 2012! I’ve been putting the berries on everything (including these corncakes), and even had to freeze some (!). Olallieberries are terrific for any sweet preparation as they are quite tart—unlike Game of Thrones, ancestry is not destiny here. (And…now I’ll stop with that analogy.) They make the most delicious, dark purple ice cream you could ever hope to eat, but I don’t have an ice cream maker so I made this tart, featuring a nice layer of frangipane studded with the tangy berries. If you find yourself in the company of some ollalieberries, try it; but any of their progenitors would work well too.

    Makes one 9″ tart Read on… »

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  • Posted by Califia Suntree on October 3rd, 2011, 3:48 PM

    As the rampaging squirrel in our yard alerted us, it’s fig season in California! We rescued our first two (varietal: Brown Turkey, which is pretty much what they look like when ripe) from his furry grasp yesterday, and I’m pondering whether to stuff them with goat cheese and honey, or wrap them up in bacon and broil them. As I ponder this, they’ll probably just get eaten. Hopefully, there are many more to come.

    If you aren’t lucky enough to have a fig tree yet (but ARE lucky enough to live in Southern California), head over to the the Huntington Library to learn how to get started growing your own fig supply. It will up your popularity, among man and rodent alike…

    What: Ranch Lecture: From Twigs to Figs, by Jon Verdick, owner of San Diego’s Encanto Farms Nursery, which specializing in figs and bananas.

    Where: The Huntington Library Friends’ Hall
    151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, CA

    When: Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2011
    7:30 p.m.

    This event is free and does not require reservations.


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  • Posted by Califia Suntree on August 29th, 2011, 8:58 PM

    Click on any image for a slideshow of canning mania chez Spooning…

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