Hav­ing the crunch and a shape sim­i­lar to an apple, Asian pears make their debut start­ing in July and stick around until early fall.

The grainy tex­ture and sweet, juicy inte­rior is a wel­comed mar­ket addi­tion as we tran­si­tion out of sum­mer stone fruits.

A rel­a­tive of Euro­pean pear vari­eties like Bartlett and Anjou, Asian pears are native to Japan and China where they have been grown for over 3000 years.

Their first appear­ance in the United States was recorded in 1820 when a Chi­nese sand pear was imported to New York. In the mid-1800’s Asian pears made their way to the west coast via Chi­nese and Japan­ese immi­grants relo­cat­ing to Cal­i­for­nia after the Gold Rush.

Most com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion in the United States is in Cal­i­for­nia and Ore­gon. Wash­ing­ton state fol­lows behind and then Ken­tucky and Alabama.

Read more: Asian Pears →

Tech­ni­cally, August is still very much a part of sum­mer. Tem­per­a­tures are high and we are still enjoy­ing dips in the pool and leisurely meals.

A cue sig­nal­ing that sum­mer might be fad­ing is when we notice new crop Cal­i­for­nia Bartlett pears and Gala apples in the mar­ket­place. They’re here.

Noth­ing against peaches, plums and nec­tarines. See­ing the pears come into the mar­ket­place reminds us to get after those stone fruits while the get­ting is good. They are still at peak of eat­ing for fla­vor, tex­ture and juici­ness.

If we plan to bake, can or freeze summer’s fruit, time is wast­ing. Cap­ture the fleet­ing oppor­tu­nity now. Cher­ries undoubt­edly had an abbre­vi­ated sea­son. Mother Nature dis­rupted what was meant to be a ban­ner cherry crop.

Back to apples and pears join­ing the bounty. The tran­si­tion from late sum­mer to early fall pro­duce is a famil­iar annual change that pre­pares us for eat­ing and cook­ing a bit differently.

Read more: Switch­ing Gears →

“Back to school”. Three words that push fam­i­lies into tem­po­rary mad­ness.

New back­pack, book and sup­ply pur­chases tax fam­ily bud­gets. Clothes shop­ping adds another bur­den on already stressed out par­ents.

The last demand for launch­ing kids back to school might be the sin­gle most sig­nif­i­cant one in terms of A+ per­for­mance.

Appeal­ing break­fast and lunch meals are impor­tant for get­ting stu­dents on track to a good year of learn­ing. How we approach these meals has a broad range of tac­tics.

Past gen­er­a­tions of school kids (ages 612) ate what was put in front of them. The “take it or leave it” mes­sage was enforced to the baby boomers.

Today’s young peo­ple are far more exposed to a vari­ety of foods with vary­ing degrees of nutri­tional value. Many life-​long food habits are formed dur­ing these crit­i­cal years.

Read more: Kid Friendly →

Sum­mer wed­dings take on a spe­cial glow given the venue selected. The happy cou­ple go together like peas and car­rots.

Those two veg­eta­bles aren’t exactly known for being sum­mer pair­ings, though For­rest Gump thinks they are still a match made in heaven.

Corn and toma­toes, toma­toes and cucum­bers, cucum­bers with sweet red onions make solid sum­mer mar­riages.

As chefs and cooks look to step up their weekly menu offer­ings, the best inspi­ra­tions come from avail­able, local, in-​season ingre­di­ents. Recipes, new and revived, get updated as more vari­eties of breads, cheese, oils and spices get our atten­tion.

Suited to sum­mer pair­ings are the fruits and veg­eta­bles we see grouped together on farm­ers mar­ket tables. Green beans, sum­mer squashes, toma­toes, sweet and hot pep­pers, egg­plants, basil, mint and chives piled high tickle the cook­ing gene.

Cre­ative ideas swirl around flat­breads and pizza, gaz­pa­cho and cold chow­ders, grilled veg­gie med­leys and chilled herbal potato sal­ads. Allow regional or global cuisines to push the direc­tion on even the most mun­dane mid­week din­ner plans. Bring sum­mer travel back to the table.

Read more: Wed­ded Bliss →