whitecorn.jpg Where would I be without California farmers? If it weren't for them, I would never have discovered the sticky, caramel bliss of Medjool dates, the tropical pina colada flavors of cherimoya, or the simple joy of munching on raw summer sweet corn. Yes, raw corn.

At first, I was skeptical. Having grown up in New England, I was accustomed to bright yellow, fat kerneled ears of corn steamed to perfection and doused with melted butter and salt. But the LA farmer insisted I taste the raw corn he was offering: raw, white, small kerneled corn. How could such puny corn possibly be good without butter and salt?

Still, I held out my palm while he filled it with a scoop of raw corn kernels. With one swift swoop of the arm, I popped the entire handful in my mouth. It was crunchy, as in snap! crackle! pop! crunchy and surprisingly juicy. As for the flavor, well, it was natural. Just unadorned, mildly sweet, old-fashioned corn flavor. I was hooked.

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soda watermelon sm-1The local farmers market today was filled with several varieties of stone fruit, rhubarb, strawberries, and melons. Melons were everywhere. Red, orange, green, and white. I grabbed whatever I could carry, I couldn’t help myself.

After washing, cleaning and cutting all of my veggies, I stared at the amount (and size of the fruit) that now rested upon my kitchen counter. I had room in the fridge for most of it, but with an over abundance of watermelon, I was forced to find another use for it.

With several cups already cut up and stored in a glass container, I still had quite a bit left over. The weather today is quite spectacular and all I could think about was an “aqua fresca” with a bit of a kick. I went to work.

Limes are a household staple and with more than enough on hand, I started juicing. Freezing left over juice in ice cube trays gives me a head start on this Wednesday nights meal. Tequilla lime chicken is on the meal plan this week, and having one less step to do that day always puts a smile on my face.

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placesettingIsn’t it great to be blessed with friends who entertain beautifully, who attend to every detail, artistically, with care and flare? Friends who take pleasure in delighting with beauty and richness?

I am one lucky ducky in this department for sure. Most of my friends enjoy setting a pretty table and “doing the flowers” as I call decorating when having guests over for a meal. A couple of my peeps, though, are off the charts in this department which causes me to spend most of my time wandering around their house saying “wow I love that,” like I haven’t read a newspaper in weeks and have nothing else to say for myself, or like a gal from East Podunk, straight off the farm, who’s never seen a formal place setting before let alone matching salt and pepper shakers. Or someone in awe of people who create beauty and inspire me by the things they think of and do. Please say the latter.

One would expect our friends Heidi and Guy to have a great house. She’s been selling prime LA real estate for 25 years, and he is the proprietor of Ligne Roset Los Angeles, the go-to store for architectural furniture. Ten years ago Heidi and Guy combined tastes, talents and 3 young teens and moved into a sprawling and spacious Spanish, Mission- style house in a canyon with a never ending view of LA’s immense valley. Guy is almost apologetic in sharing in his off the cuff, just between us, way that the style of the house, the architecture, is not really him so much, (like any of us who know him and his exquisite design sense need to be told), but the interior and over all vibe of the house is so him and Heidi in all of their beauty, creativity and warmth; the art, furniture and fabrics, the two gorgeous greyhounds, the family photos taking up a whole wall in the kitchen juxtaposed with the Chanel Houndstooth fabric on the family room couch.

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blueberrycornicecreamI think I've hit the ice cream jackpot...I can't tell you how fantastic this is, as weird as it might sound. However, it never sounded weird to me. I mean there is nothing new about sweet corn ice cream, I just wanted blueberry in it. Have you ever had a sweet corn and blueberry salad? It's amazing, just as I knew this ice cream would be. First of all, the ice cream turns this beautiful lavender color and is flecked with pieces of frozen corn and sweet blueberries. It's almost savory-sweet but it's not. In fact it's the perfect amount of sweetness. I want you all to try it so badly.

I have to say, I started making this ice cream at 10PM (in my favorite ice cream maker), it seems to be the only time these days when I have cooking availability. For some crazy reason (oh yeah, it's summer), my boys were still awake. They asked what type of ice cream I was making, I purposefully told them "corn" ice cream, just to see their reaction. You should have seen the horror in their faces. Corn! They couldn't believe it. I love scaring them.

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plumcrostadaPlums are such a special fruit with so many uses. For me their flavor is most unique: they are sweet near the skin but tart by the pit. The color too is deeper toward the skin and paler near the pit. All stone fruits are spectacular, in my opinion, but I adore plums for this uniqueness. I love eating plums when they're so ripe that their juices squirt right out when you bite into them and run down your arm. That's when I find myself eating them over the kitchen sink. Often when I buy plums in bulk, instead of waiting for them to fully ripen, I usually end up making jam or baking them into pastries, pies, and tarts.

Late summer always rewards us with beautiful Italian prune plums, recognizable for their egg shape, dark and bluish exterior, and green to yellow interior. They are typically available from August until September and can be found widely in the States, but more so in Europe. Often they are dried to make prunes, but more famously are made into the eastern European liquor slivovitz. Plums have always been a favorite in my family. Many Hungarian recipes make use of them: one dish in particular is gomboc, which are plums encased in potato dumplings, and rolled in a cinnamon-breadcrumb mixture. I like them, but I love plums much more in pastries like this crostata.

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