Fruits in Season
The price of oranges drop to as low as 4lbs./1 dollar from February to May. The best places to go to in Southern California are the ethnic markets. I love going to the Mexican markets for produce. Nothing beats their prices and quality. You get the sweetest and prettiest fruits. The only orange variety whose price doesn’t go down is the Texas orange. It’s always steady at 79 cents/lb. They’re more expensive than the rest, but, in my opinion, they’re the sweetest and the best for eating. Navel oranges can be sour at times so I usually just juice them up. It’s easier to consume them that way. They say an orange doesn’t ripen any further, like the mango, once it has been plucked from the tree. I think that’s not really true. After I buy some, I would let them sit on the kitchen counter for two or three days before slicing them up. I find that, when I wait for a few days until the firm fruit softens up a bit, its flavor always turns out better. I compost a lot of citrus peels this time of the year. Perhaps I should learn how to make candied orange peel and orange marmalade.
Tomatoes are cheap these days. In fact, just tonight, when I scanned the ads for good grocery deals, I found a store that sells them for 4 lbs/97 cents. Now is the best time to make sun dried tomatoes. You can dry them under the sun, but it takes too long. Or you can dry them in a dehydrator, but I don’t have one. So I use my oven, set at 200 F, and leave them there for around 20 hours.
I bought three pounds a few weeks ago. I halved them and arranged them on two cookie sheets. Next, I popped them in the oven after they got sprinkled with thyme, basil, salt, and pepper. You’ll know when they’re done because they’ll look all leathery and shriveled up like a prune. Store them in sterilized jars with olive oil, a couple of bay leaves, and chopped garlic. Just pack them lightly so the oil can get to each tomato inside the jar.
I love sun dried tomatoes! They’re a bit pricey though. A small jar may cost around 4-5 dollars. At a farmer’s market, I got a tiny container for 6 dollars. The flavor is noticeably different when they’re homemade. They’re sweeter and packed with a whole lot of flavor.
Look what I did to them! I halved some dinner rolls(rustic Italian rolls or French bread slices are good choices) and generously slathered them with garlic hummus.There was a lot of hummus in my refrigerator so that’s what I used. I didn’t want it to go to waste. But if you don’t have it, margarine mixed with minced garlic will do. I laid a bed of cheese(mozzarella, havarti, or any quickmelt cheese) on each one and rested my precious tomatoes on them. Then I sprinkled some more cheese and some dried basil on top. This picture (above) was taken before I toasted them up. Trust me, this is just as good as any pizza!
I gave away this jar to my mother. A used gift tissue covered the cap. I scrounged around for a matching purple yarn to tie it up. Attached a tiny card, which I had cut out from a box with a pretty design. And voila! A nice and inexpensive gift.
My next project would be: tomato jelly.