A friend lost her father in May. At 93, he’d lived an active, long, rich, productive life, setting personal and professional examples for family and friends. Best, he died with a dinner party for the following Sunday on his calendar… which he was to have hosted!
Some 10-15 of us who weren’t able to travel from Maine to Houston to support our friend and honor her dad gathered at her home last week to help weed and plant her perennial and vegetable gardens. The effort was organized as a wear-your-boots, bring-your-trowel pot-luck breakfast, lunch… stay for tea. We laughed and cried, and made significant progress in the gardens. It was a wonderful, easy, way to be with her, hear anecdotes about her father and share some about ours. Edging, weeding, and planting was much more rewarding than delivering a casserole. I appreciate the inspiration of the idea, her willingness to say yes, and the generosity of those who came with fruit, beautiful almond croissants, soups, and sweets. It accomplished many things on many levels, including the opportunity to share a favorite preparation of fruit salad with lime yogurt.
PRESENTATION IS EVERYTHING:
24 years ago Nick was 18 months old and still in a highchair for meals. During a long weekend with extended family I served him dinner: (arghhh! Kraft) Macaroni & Cheese, steamed beans, and pieces of banana. He fiddled with the food, was distracted by the dog. No amount of coaxing or encouragement got him to eat so that I could bathe him and put him to bed. Cousin Ned, who’d boldly recently left Middlebury after two years to go to The Culinary Institute and pursue his long standing dream of becoming a chef, wandered into the kitchen and observed. In less than a minute he swept up Nick’s plate, waved his magic culinary wand, delivered the exact same food back to Nick’s tray, and admonished: “Presentation is EVERYTHING!” He was right. Nick enthusiastically ate Ned’s artful arrangement, was bathed, and easily put to bed.
When I first had Stacey’s fruit salad I was amazed by the time and care she took in cutting the fruit she used. I don’t prepare the yogurt exactly the same way, but the (gulp) secret ingredient is the same and makes all the difference. Presentation is everything.
STACEY’S FRUIT SALAD WITH LIME YOGURT - Serves 8-10
1 small cantaloupe
1 medium box (16 oz.) organic strawberries
1 small box (6 oz.) organic raspberries
1 small box (6oz.) organic blueberries
8 oz. red or green organic grapes (only if you can get firm ones)
1 firm but ripe organic mango
1 large organic navel orange
1 pint plain Greek style yogurt. (We usually buy 0% fat yogurt, but I like to splurge and get 2% when making this.)
zest and juice of 2 organic limes or one lime and one small lemon (Remember you’re using the rind: go organic!)
1/4 cup coconut cream (like one would use to make a Pina Colada: Coco Lopez is one brand.)
1. Wash all the fruit that doesn’t require peeling.
2. With the size of a large blueberry in mind, peel, slice, and dice the cantaloupe, orange, mango, and strawberries. Transfer the fruit (cubes) to a serving bowl using a metal spatula
3. Wash and quarter the grapes lengthwise. Add them and the blueberries to the bowl. Stir gently to combine.
4. Last, add the raspberries, gently turning the rest of the fruit up from the bottom to incorporate the raspberries while keeping them intact. Serve immediately, or cover and chill.
5. In a medium sized bowl, combine the yogurt, zest, juice, and coconut cream. Whisk to blend. Serve immediately or cover and chill.
Note: apples, pears, and bananas don’t work well for fruit salad in general and this preparation in particular. Pineapple is a nice addition, as would be other berries and types of melon.