In appreciation of apricots Summer brings an abundance...

THE DISH

May 29, 2002|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

In appreciation of apricots

Summer brings an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables, but what's sometimes overlooked is the little apricot.

California growers say they expect to ship 2 million 24-pound boxes of fresh apricots across North America this season, which runs from May to July.

Like their cousin the peach, apricots can be baked into pies, made into jam or enjoyed fresh. Colors vary by variety, ranging from deep yellow to golden orange. Although most apricots are either the Castlebrite or Patterson variety, there are about 10 others, some available for only a week or so.

Select apricots that are plump and well-formed. To ripen firm fruit, place apricots in a bag with an apple or banana.

Snacks in a tube

Once there was a time when puddings and gelatins were served in glass bowls. Then manufacturers came up with the idea of putting desserts in little plastic cups, and they soon filled lunch boxes across America. Now companies are taking convenience to the next step, packaging desserts in plastic tubes so there's no need to bother with a spoon.

The most recent of these products are ConAgra's Tubular Snacks, due soon on supermarket shelves. The snacks include a Hershey's Portable Pudding and Jolly Ranger Portable Gel Snacks, both with an overly sweet taste kids are sure to love.

The refrigerated, single-serve tubes will come eight to a box and sell for about $2.89 a package.

Americans shop around

When it comes to grocery-store bonus cards, Americans tend to be a fickle bunch. According to results of a customer survey produced by a local marketing company, 66 percent of adults have bonus cards, but only one in six is loyal to just one store.

The survey by Vertis also found that contrary to popular perception, New Englanders are more likely to purchase organic foods regularly than residents of the Pacific Northwest, and nearly half of Americans purchase vitamins regularly, while only 23 percent routinely buy herbal supplements.

Side dishes for grilled fare

Although hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken breasts remain the most common barbecue fare, don't forget vegetables. Corn, baked beans and coleslaw are common accompaniments to the outdoor barbecue, but you can also get your daily dose of vegetables with spreads, sauces and dips, says the American Institute for Cancer Research. And remember, fruit and vegetables can be grilled, too.

Events:

Petit Louis continues its monthly series of "lost lunches" 1:30 p.m. Friday with wines and food of the Loire Valley. Tickets are $79 per person and must be purchased in advance. Call 410-366-9393.

The Maryland Hospitality Education Foundation is holding a progressive dinner at five Howard County restaurants from 1:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Sunday to benefit the Maryland hospitality industry's school-to-career program. Cost $75 per person ($50 is tax-deductible). For tickets call 800-774-1313, Ext. 1017 or log on to www.mhef.org and click on Hot Dish.

Celebrate the Eastern Shore strawberry harvest from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at St. Luke's United Methodist Church, 304 Talbot St., St. Michaels. Admission is free. For information, call 410-745-2534.

Presbury United Methodist Church will hold a strawberry festival from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday (rain date June 8) at the church at 806 Edgewood Road. There will be pit beef, baked goods, strawberries and crafts. For information, call 410-676-0713.

Savor the flavor of Schwabian grown white asparagus at Rudys' 2900 White Asparagus Festival, 6:45 p.m. June 5, at the restaurant at 2900 Baltimore Blvd., Finksburg. $59 per person. Call 410-833-5777.

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