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Answers to summer’s toughest questions, from grilling to cool dishes

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Posted: Thursday, June 6, 2013 2:40 pm

Dear Barbara: It’s summer and I have been hearing quite a bit about grilled fruit, but I have never done that. What fruit grills up the best and how do I do it? Thanks for any tips.

— Jill from Burbank

Dear Jill: Grilled fruit is delicious! You can grill most any fruit (even berries if you wrap them in a foil packet), but firmer fruits work the best. You want to fruit that is ripe, yet firm. Stone fruit works very well, such as peaches and apricots. Apples and pears are great, too. Keeping the skin on helps the fruit hold its shape. Just cut the fruit in half, pit or core them and place them cut-side down on a medium-hot, oiled grill. When you see grill marks on the cut side, turn them over and continue cooking.

To tell when they are done, just take a sharp knife and insert it into the fruit. If it is tender, it is done. On juicier fruits — like oranges, pineapple slices or lemons — you are not really cooking the fruit, you are just looking for some nice grill marks and you want it heated through. This only takes a few minutes, so you will need to watch them closely or they will turn to mush. Lightly grilling them will enhance the flavor of the fruit.

Dear Barbara: My husband and I like to hike. The weather has been so great that we are ready for getting out and hiking those trails. We try to go early in the day before it gets hot. My problem is keeping our lunch cool. Do you have any ideas I can try?

— Caren from Galt

Dear Caren: If it isn’t an all-day hike, you can put your lunches in a Ziploc bag. Seal it tight and put that Ziploc in a larger bag with a bottle of water that has been frozen. Just put it in your backpack and it should keep your lunches cool and your water nice and cold for drinking.

Dear Barbara: My family isn’t fussy, but they aren’t very happy having a big hot dinner on a hot day. Can you suggest a few summer dishes that I may use?

— Katie from Lodi

Dear Katie: You need to start thinking of cool dinners that don’t need a lot of cooking time. Gazpacho is delicious and there is no cooking. Quiche with summer vegetables, watermelon and blue cheese salad, spinach salad with strawberries, very thinly sliced onion topped with a grilled chicken breast that has been sliced thin. Summer fruits and vegetables are just the best!

Barbara Spitzer is a Lodi home cook who also develops recipes for specific consumer products. Do you have a cooking question? Send it to Barbara Spitzer at Please include your first name and city.



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