Well, it looks like I spoke too soon. Spring DID seem right around the corner, but last night it started snowing -- the beginning of what the weather people were calling a "nor'easter" -- and this morning, the lawn which yesterday had been not green, really -- more like a mottled melange of greens and browns and yellows -- but certainly not white -- is once again covered with the frozen fluff.
I'm not sure if the activity I am about to describe is some kind of mental survival mechanism that I have established for myself to help combat late winter feelings of depression, but I do know that it has been a lot of fun.
The activity I am referring to is the making of fruit salads.
I've always loved fruit salads -- good ones, anyway -- and the last few months I have been making a large one every week, on average. And they are pretty big -- filling most of Jeannine's largest stainless steel mixing bowl, which measures sixteen inches across at the top and five and a half inches deep.
It's really too much for the two of us to eat before it goes bad, and I know that… but I keep making these big fruit salads. I think part of it is the sheer pleasure I get from seeing this enormous mound of sliced and chopped fruits, all those lovely colors and glistening, tasty bits.
So rather than waste the extra fruit salad, I have been packing the excess into snap-lock top containers and bringing them around to various friends and family members. It's fun to do, and I get to see and talk to some people I ordinarily wouldn't see very much. And they all seem to enjoy eating the fruit salad.
What follows is a group of photographs showing the stages of one of these fruit salads I made last week. I didn't have any raspberries or blueberries for this one, and those are usually favorite ingredients of mine. But it turned out pretty well anyway, I think.
First up: kiwis. I love these things, though I hate peeling them. I did discover a few weeks ago a little trick -- I reversed the order in which I prepped them. Previously, I would peel the whole fruit, except for the inedible ends, which I would later cut off before slicing up the kiwis to put in the salad. Now I cut off those ends first, and it makes the peeling go much easier, for some reason.
Second ingredient: mangoes. Another of my favorites fruits, though I still don't know how to pick the really good ones -- the ones which have creamy, orange-yellow insides, with few if any fibers running through the flesh. At least on this occasion they were of good quality.
Third are Shingo pears, from Korea -- very juicy and crunchy, but without much in the way of real flavor.
Fourth came the apples -- this time, two varieties: Granny Smith and Fugi. It is at this stage that I use a trick I found out about some years ago to keep the exposed peeled and sliced apple pieces from browning. I slice a lemon in half, and squeeze it over the apples. I also do the same with a lime -- I like the zingy citrus flavor both fruits add.
Fifth step was cantaloupe.
Sixth in line was pineapple, made easier by the pineapple slicer/corer I first used about six years ago, I think. It's ridiculously fast and easy to use, and turns what was once a dreary chore into something you can do in a couple of minutes.
Seventh -- more cantaloupe!
Eighth, I added some red plums. These are not available all through the year here in Massachusetts, so when they do start showing up at the local grocery store, I make sure to get some.
Ninth was oranges. I discovered a few months ago that a good way to add these wonderful pieces is to cut the oranges in half, then slice out -- with two shallow cuts -- the pithy cores from each half, and then slice each half into about five wedges. The next step is to turn each wedge upside down, and use a smaller sharp knife to slice the fruit loose, just inside the rind. It takes some time, but the upside is that you get very juicy pieces of orange, and I think they go great in fruit salad.
Tenth -- and final, for this particular salad -- ingredient was strawberries.
Then comes one of my favorite parts -- mixing it up, so all the contrasting colors, textures and shapes come together.
(Of course, my real favorite part is EATING it!)
And here is the result, ready to be distributed.
Well, at least the two on the top -- the one on the bottom was for us. -- PL