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Aloha and Welcome to My Website!

I am an Associate Broker, Realtor® with Long Realty West Valley, a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate.
I specialize in real estate sales in Arizona West Valley Golf Retirement Communities.
I have Bachelor of Science Degrees in Chemistry and Biology and a Masters Degree in Business Administration with Project Management concentration.

As a year-round Sun City Grand resident and full-time Associate Broker Realtor®, I can help you buy and/or sell real estate in the golf retirement communities of Sun City Grand, Sun City West, Corte Bella, Arizona Traditions, Sun City Festival, PebbleCreek and Trilogy at Vistancia.
Buyers and sellers receive what they desire when selecting me as their estate agent:
an experienced, dedicated, well-educated, professional local Realtor® who specializes in real estate in Arizona golf retirement communities.

Sun City Grand ~ I LIVE HERE, I WORK HERE, I KNOW THIS COMMUNITY! ©2007



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Picking Perfect Produce

The 4th. of July festivities, and summer picnics, bar-b-cues, family gatherings, pool parties and patio events, all invite us to wonderful possibilities with fresh fruits and veggies.  Which of us does not have mouth-drooling memories of lush vine-ripened tomatoes, buttery sweet corn, or bee-tempting ice-cold watermelon slices?  Now it’s your turn to host one of these events, and you’re up against the tough, tricky business of picking perfect produce. What do you look for?  Here are some time-proven tips gleaned from my Uncle Eddies 30-plus years in the produce business, and from hanging around 3 generations of great cooks. Add to that thousands of meals cooked and trips to the market of my own, augmented with frequent culinary Internet searches, and well read on and you’re well on the way to the season’s best corn, tomatoes, avocados, oranges, cantaloupes and watermelons.

Of course, nothing beats fresh picked, local, and vine ripened. So visiting Farmer’s Markets and area farms ups your chances of a positive memorable meal.  But even a trip to the grocery store can earn you kudos if you follow these tips for these summer favorites.

 

Corn

When you pick up an ear of corn it should feel solid and heavy. The outer leaves (husk) should be bright green, tightly wrapped, and feel slightly moist. If they feel dried out or brittle corn is old and past peak. Next, check tassels on top (silky hair-like fibers). Tassels on fresh corn will be light yellow to brown, and sticky to touch. If they are dry, brittle, or black, corn is past prime.  Peel back husk a bit at thin (top) end of corn and check inside kernels. Kernels should be plump and full. If dimpled, corn is dehydrating and past prime.  Also not too many of top kernels should be worm eaten. Why pay for a stripped cob?

Freshness of corn is a real factor towards flavor.  Just picked corn will be sweet. But the natural sugar in the corn rapidly begins to convert to starch, loosing sweetness. Corn will lose 25% or more of its sugar content within 25 hours after harvest.  Keep corn cool. Refrigerate immediately.  If it has sat in frig a day or two, add one teaspoon of sugar to every quart of cooking water to refresh original sugar loss and flavor.

 

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a delicate fruit. The trouble with most supermarket tomatoes is that to arrive unbruised and “fresh” they are picked hard and shipped semi-green, some ripening a bit in transit, others sprayed with ethylene gas to speed up ripeness. An artificially ripened tomato may look “red-right” but will have a flat “blah” taste.  Your best bet is your own garden, or local grown Farmer’s market tomatoes, picked at peak of prime.  For a supermarket purchase, if you want flavor pay a bit more for tomatoes marked “vine-ripened”.  A really good tomato will be firm (no wrinkles, soft spots, or black spots), and should have a rich “earthy” smell. This is one fruit where you definitely use your nose in selecting (as with cantaloupes). If a tomato lacks that sweet, deep woody smell, it will lack a rich flavor.

Never store tomatoes in a plastic bag.  They need air.  At home, if you have to quicken the ripening process, put the tomatoes in a pierced paper bag with an apple. The apple emits ethylene gas, a ripening agent. Once ripe, a tomato will be at prime for 2 to 3 days depending on variety. But save past prime tomatoes, they work great in sauces and soups.

 

Avocados

There are over 500 varieties of avocados on our planet. Here in the U.S., a perennial favorite for eating is of the Hess stock.  Avocados are an excellent source of essential vitamins and minerals, but are expensive, often up to $1.50 apiece.  And many folks are disappointed when they spend that much on a single avocado only to discover on cutting it open that it is still unripe and hard, or past prime, brown, and mushy. Some rely on the “gently squeeze” to determine ripeness, the idea being that the fruit should not be rock hard but have a little give but not feel soft or squishy. But the absolutely best way to know when an avocado is “just right” to eat is to pop off the little stem (woody bud) on the top end of the avocado and look at the color of the little bowl under it. If the flesh of that bowl is green, the avocado is not yet ripe and will be hard inside. If the circle is brown, the fruit is over-ripe, and yucky inside.  But, if it is a yellowish hue, perfection! Slice open, add a dash of salt or lime and you’ve got your money’s worth.

 

Oranges

The interesting thing about a ripe orange is that its outer skin is not always, well, orange. Fruits grown in a cooler climate will be orange-orange, while fruits from a more tropic climate may have a yellowish/light green tint. The color is not an indicator of sweetness. So the secret to picking a good orange is not color, but weight. You want a fruit with a dense inner and a thinner outer peel. A good orange will feel firm and heavy, with a strong citrus aroma.  Press skin. It should feel thin (after all, you don’t eat the peel, so why pay for more of it?). Generally, the more dimpled or puckered the outer skin, the pulpier the flesh. Go for firm, shiny, thin skinned oranges.


Watermelons

One source I was steered to (I think now, as a joke) on how to pick a good melon said “You have to become one with the melon, be the melon.”  Though my head and overall body shape are melon-like, thinking like one still eludes me. So I am just going to pass on what I know consistently works.  Weight matter!  Watermelons are aptly named, the best of their class being around 92% water.  Water is heavy. So too is a good watermelon. Pick a melon heavy for its size. How do you know? Lift up a few of about like size, and zero in on the heaviest of them. Aside from heavy, the watermelon should be bright green, and rock hard (no soft or mushy parts). Many suggest that you look for “bee scars” (occasional hard light brown circles with visible pin-like holes, where bees attracted to the melons sweetness attempted to burrow into melon).  Then there are the “thumpers,” who swear by a good whack to a melon with the flat of the hand, listening for deep, thick resonance. But the single most foolproof tip towards true inner sweetness is to turn melon over and check the bottom side for its “ground spot” (where it sat on the ground).  This large spot should be creamy yellow.  If that spot is white or greenish, the melon was picked too soon or may not be ripe.

 

Cantaloupes

A good sense of smell really helps in picking a primo cantaloupe.  A perfectly ripe cantaloupe will give off a rich, musty, sweet aroma. Always sniff a cantaloupe. If it lacks that outer heady perfume, it will lack deep inner sweetness.  Outer skin should be firm, no soft spots . A past prime melon will begin to dehydrate and spoil.  Indicators of this are quarter-sized indentations or depressions found on the outer skin.

Another hint of inner sweetness or lack of same in a cantaloupe is skin color. If beige-skinned with distinct green veins, it is probably not ripe yet. Look for a melon with a more pale yellow skin and yellowish veins.

So, that’s the inside scoop on picking top seasonal fruit and veggies.  What about a tip on the horses or stocks and bonds?  Ah, for that you’ll have to find your own Uncle Eddie.  For the best house buying or selling tips, try "Auntie Leolinda".


 

Sun City Grand Resident,

Anthony de la Torre

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Leolinda Bowers
Long Realty West Valley
Ph: (623) 937-5701Fax:(623) 321-1117
Surprise, AZ 85374 US
www.leolinda.com
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