The Beet Street Blog

It all started with baby food by Kristin Mastre

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While busy in the kitchen, the aroma of baking acorn squash filled the house.  Sweet potatoes were boiling on the stove top and the baked peaches that had just been pulled from the oven were cooling on the counter top waiting to be peeled.  The windows were open to let the crisp breeze come through and upbeat music was playing to keep me grooving and singing.  It was autumn, harvest season, and I was up to my elbows in fruit and vegetables making baby food.

My baby (who is now in Preschool) was beginning to eat solids as autumn came around.  We had just moved to Fort Collins and were struggling on a very tight budget.  It was a difficult year, but I found great happiness in those days of making baby food.  We didn’t have much but I felt an ample amount of satisfaction having our home filled with the rewards of our local Farmer’s Market, providing our family with healthy, delicious meals made from scratch and from the heart.  Even now when I open my refrigerator or pantry and see the shelves filled with food, I truly feel fortunate.  Every year since then when I see the signs of autumn at our Farmer’s Market, the memories of nourishing my family come flooding back and that familiar happiness grows within me like the food on the vine.

This year our family is experiencing the riches of harvest season with the abundance of Palisade Peaches taking over our kitchen counters.  Palisade is in the south-west part of Colorado, east of Grand Junction.  Often called the “heart of Colorado’s fruit and wine country”, Palisade is well-known for their amazing peaches that have been growing there since the late 1800’s.  Peaches are a favorite fruit of mine and after being very disappointed with some of the selection at local grocery stores – tough, flavorless and dry, it was refreshing to have juicy, tender, fragrant, meaty peaches, ripe for the eating.  With the peaches being a local food picked ready-to-eat, you can absolutely taste the difference.  We’ve been eating peaches every day and enjoying every last dripping bite.

There’s something about harvest season that brings people in our community together.  I think we all feel very lucky to live in a city where we are surrounded by agriculture, where the concept of “from farm to table” is readily accepted.  With the cornucopia of fruits and vegetables we find, people all around seem to have a stronger connection with one another while talking about the bounty of delicious produce they’ve purchased and discussing different recipes they enjoy.  Recipe swapping is something that many of my friends and I love and it always leads to some lively conversation where our families reap the wholesome rewards.

Experiencing a plenitude of peaches, it’s been fun figuring out how to incorporate them into our daily meals.  We’ve been eating them fresh and raw, baking them, blending them in smoothies and even grilling them.  I’m all for simple dishes that are kid-friendly (especially now that our family has grown to two kids) and recently found a recipe that I’ll use every year that we find ourselves with a bumper of peaches – Peach Caprese Salad.   Simple and classic with a twist, it’s also very healthy and perfect for those who have limited skills in the kitchen.  Using fresh local ingredients makes this mouth watering meal one that friends and family will request for years to come.

During the celebration of harvest season in Fort Collins, I hope we spread the good feelings of camaraderie by sharing some of the ways we enjoy savoring all that we grow in our land of abundance. 

Peach Caprese Salad

Credits:  Serious Eats – Dinner Tonight
-serves 4-

3 ripe peaches, halved, pitted, and sliced
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into slices
Olive oil to taste
Balsamic vinegar to taste

1. Halve each peach, remove the pit, and slice. Slice the mozzarella and tear the basil leaves.

2. Arrange peaches and mozzarella on a large plate. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar to taste (aim for a 3-to-1 ration of oil to vinegar). Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and basil.

Kristin Mastre is a wife of 10 years, a mother to 2 boys, a personal trainer and the author of, a local restaurant review blog.

Beet Street’s Homegrown Blog

Inspired by the Harvest Season, and our upcoming Homegrown Fort Collins program, we will be featuring the Homegrown Blog for the next couple of weeks.  Look for daily stories, comments and recipies about community harvest, and cooking with local food.  We are opening this special edition of the Beet Street Blog to our community, and will feature a different guest blogger everyday.  Let’s celebrate the bounty of Northern Colorado!

Homegrown Fort Collins celebrates the harvest season and its contribution to community and local culture. The goal is to educate, celebrate, and enjoy food with a focus on local. The old adage, ‘you are what you eat,’ resonates stronger than a parent’s stern warning to their children. The harvest of a community in many ways reflects the essence of the community, and has been at the center of festivals throughout history. Beet Street’s Homegrown Fort Collins will help us take a closer look at what’s around and develop a stronger sense of place and appreciation for our local harvest.

For a full schedule of events, please visit Homegrown Fort Collins!

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