Sue’s Morning Stretch: ‘Vibrant Food’ lives up to its name

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What a beautiful celebration of the seasons “Vibrant Food” (Ten Speed Press, $25) is.

With farmers markets in full swing and CSA boxes arriving each week, this is the perfect time to embrace the recipes it offers for summer.

When I first flipped through the cookbook, I thought it offered more summer than the other seasons. Maybe that’s just because I am so focused right now on summer’s offerings, because actually author Kimberley Hasselbrink shows that each seasons has its own produce pluses. Then she gives us recipes – and no season has more than the other – that showcase those ingredients. So this book will come in handy no matter the season.

And what an interesting selection! The recipes are as varied as the produce. There are soups (I can’t wait to try her Tomato Fennel Soup with Polenta Croutons), entrees and salads, as I’d expect in a cookbook centered on product. But there also are cocktails, breakfast options and ice pops.

Hasselbrink is a photographer and the mastermind behind the blog The Year in Food. Her photographs here – of the prepared recipes as well as produce “portraits” – make you want to start cooking with her book immediately. Even those who aren’t as wild about produce as I am have to be captivated by the book’s photos and recipes.

Here is Hasselbrink’s recipe for ice pops, perfect for a hot summer day. (Oh heck, you can even make room for one on a cool summer day.)

Summer Berry-Coconut Milk Ice Pops

I love those instances when so few ingredients come together to make something so big in flavor and so deeply satisfying. The jammy mash-up of berries with the coconut milk and cardamom makes these pops just rich enough and rather irresistible. They never last long in the freezer.

Makes 10 (3-ounce) ice pops

2/3 cup thinly sliced ripe strawberries

2/3 cup ripe blueberries

2/3 cup ripe blackberries

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon natural cane sugar

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

1 (13½- ounce) can full-fat coconut milk

Combine the strawberries, blueberries and blackberries with the sugar and cardamon in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring regularly, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the berries are soft but not falling apart – they should be a little jammy.

Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut milk. Carefully pour the warm berry mixture into a pitcher. Pour the mix into 3-ounce molds, helping some of the berries along with a spoon so that they’re evenly distributed. Freeze for at least 4 hours.

The ice pops will last a month in the freezer.

Reprinted with permission fromVibrant Food written and photographed

by Kimberley Hasselbrink (Ten Speed Press, © 2014)

– Sue Ontiveros

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