lattraspberriesMy favorite cold weather desserts need to be sweet and full of flavor. When it's cold and rainy outside, nothing is better than a slice of flourless chocolate cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a bowl of hot apple cobbler and a spoonful of heavy cream. Rich and sweet or hot and sweet, yumm.

In summer, heaviness is out of place. My preferred dessert is beautifully ripe fruit from our local farmers' market: a bowl of ripe berries, a slice of ice cold watermelon or cantaloupe, a ripe pluot, peach, or nectarine.

When I want a more elaborate dessert, I supplement fresh fruit with custard.

Custard is easy to make, requiring only grade-school math: 2 (eggs) + 1 (cup cream) + 1/2 (cup sugar). Poured in a buttered pan, baked in a water bath. In and out of a 350 degree oven in an hour. Simple, easy, and delicious.

Then I had a thought.

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salsaverdeSalsa Verde makes a perfect dip during the summer and also adds a refreshing burst of flavor to all type of dishes. It is a great marinade and topping for grilled fish, seafood, chicken, beef, and lamb.

Some recipes call for boiling the tomatillos, but roasting adds more flavor to the sauce and is worth the extra step.

When selecting tomatillos, always slightly open the husk to inspect the flesh color and tone inside. The flesh should be firm and without major blemishes and the color should be bright green, with a fresh, fruity smell.

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bluepoundcake.jpgSome things are just too good to pass up, such as the combo of blueberries and brown sugar.

And what else would be better than to combine them into a poundcake?

I adore poundcake. Love it more so. I’ve been kicking it up a notch lately with buttermilk, which I pretty much substitute for milk in most of my baking now. It gives a lift and kick and a richness to cakes especially. Honestly, because cakes NEED a bit more richness… enter gilding the lily terminology here.

Add in blueberries and your summer has just been captured in this dessert. Garnish with whipped cream, serve warm with ice cream and of course a few fresh blueberries, or toasted the next morning as the breakfast of champions!

From the blueberry fields flooding into to Middle Georgia into this Farmer’s kitchen and now on to yours, enjoy this delightful dessert!

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coconuticecreamHomemade ice cream is a great tradition for the Fourth of July. Undoubtedly it hits the spot on a hot summer day. And we all know store bought ice cream is nothing compared to homemade.

When I was sixteen I discovered my love of coconut frozen yogurt. Penguin’s Frozen Yogurt moved into my town and were looking for a bunch of teenagers to hire. It was a chain that was growing by leaps and bounds due to their popularity. After three…long…interviews I was hired. Can you believe three interviews for a job at a frozen yogurt place? Sheesh.

Anyway, coconut was a flavor we had maybe once a month. I loved it and it was all I would eat for the few days we had it. Since then I always seek out coconut ice cream…I never see it anywhere as coconut frozen yogurt…which is okay by me! I prefer ice cream.

So this ice cream…wow. Wow. Wow. It really is the best and there are so many possibilities of toppings, it make me dizzy just thinking about all of them.

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Bowl-PhotoI'm not the outdoorsy type. Picnics with uninvited guests, like ants, are not my idea of a good time. Sitting on the hard ground or wet grass is never much fun. So, my favorite place for a picnic is a box at The Hollywood Bowl on a warm summer night, with a meal that is perfectly prepared by my wife, Peggy.

When we arrive, the first thing we do is set the table. No sheet on the ground for us. A box at the Bowl comes with tables and chairs, so we spread linens that have been cut to table size and then lay the plates and silver. Flowers appear in small vases and the wine glasses sparkle. (Sadly, the Bowl stopped allowing candles, which was the perfect finishing touch.)

Once the table is set, the food starts to appear. Bread and cheese and cured meats or my favorite, Peggy's chilled heirloom tomato gazpacho soup, generally start. From there it might be roast chicken or cold sliced steak or grilled shrimp with mint and feta orzo. Desserts are home made or brought from our favorite bakery, Valerie Confections. And throughout it all there is the wine - crisp bubbly Prosecco, then unoaked Chardonnay, and maybe an Italian red and a sweet sparkling one for dessert. Truly the perfect picnic in the perfect setting.

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