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RED COMICE PEARS — Comice are among the sweetest and juiciest of all pears, and are a favorite in holiday gift boxes and baskets. Their flesh is silky soft, and can best be described as creamy in texture, abundantly full of juice, and very sweet. For many pear lovers, Comice is the pinnacle variety of pears. The sweet buttery flesh can find no better compliment than when served with soft ripening cheeses like Brie, Camembert or any of the blues. It is their extreme juiciness that earns them such high marks for eating freshly sliced, but also makes them a poor choice for cooking. These unique Red Comice Pears, with their blushing skin, retain all those same qualities.

Ripening & Storage: Check for ripeness by gently applying thumb pressure near the stem end. When the fruit gives, it is ready to eat. Because Red Comice have very fragile skins, the pears may appear to be bruised on the surface, but more often than not, this does not indicate damage to the juicy interior. Handle gently even before the pears are ripe. Bruising may not be apparent right away, but can show signs of damage as the fruit ripens.

Spicy Fish Tacos with Pear Mango Salsa  4 Servings  1/4 c. vegetable oil, 1/4 c. lime juice, 1 t. minced garlic, 1 t. ground cumin, 1/2 t. salt, 1/2 t. ground cayenne pepper, 6 fish fillets (4 oz. each), fresh or frozen, thawed

Mix the first six ingredients well, and set aside. Preheat oven to 350°. Place fish in single layer in 13×9 baking pan. Pour mixture over; refrigerate 30 minutes. Bake fish 20-25 minutes until opaque and flaky. 

Mix the next seven ingredients together in a small serving bowl: 2/3 c. red comice pears, cored, cut into 1/4″ cubes, 1/2 c. mango, peeled, pitted, cut into 1/4″ cubes, 1/2 c. sliced red grapes, 1 T. minced red onion, 1 T. minced jalapeño peppers, seeded, 1 T. chopped cilantro, 1/2 t. salt, 12 (6-inch) flour tortillas, warmed Enjoy this tasty fish and salsa combo, served over warm tortillas.

CALNAVEL ORANGES A single mutation in 1820 in an orchard of sweet oranges planted at a monastery in Brazil yielded the Navel Orange. The mutation causes the orange to develop a second orange at the base of the original fruit, opposite the stem. From the outside, it looks similar to the human navel, hence its name. Because the mutation left the fruit seedless, and therefore sterile, the only means available to cultivate more of this new variety is to graft cuttings onto other varieties of citrus trees. Two such cuttings of the original tree were transplanted to Riverside, California in 1870, which eventually led to worldwide popularity.

The Navel Orange peel is easily removed. Its flesh is sweet and naturally very juicy. It can be eaten out of hand, juiced, used in fruit salads, or used in jams and preserves.

Storage: Store oranges in a cool place outside the refrigerator if you will be eating them within a few days. Otherwise, refrigerate in a plastic bag or in the vegetable crisper section of the refrigerator.

CalNavel Orange & Date Nut Cake FRUITY, NUTTY AND SWEET, THIS MAY BE A NEW FAMILY FAVORITE!  1 c. milk, 2 T. vinegar, 1 c. shortening, 1 c. sugar, 2 eggs, 1 t. vanilla extract, 2-1/4 c. flour, 1 t. baking soda, 1 c. walnuts or pecans, chopped, 1 c. dates, chopped. Grated rind of 2 oranges, Juice of 2 oranges, 3/4 c. sugar.

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 300°. Mix milk and vinegar in bowl; let stand until soured. In a large bowl, cream shortening and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and baking soda mixture alternately with soured milk, mixing well after each addition. Stir in nuts, dates and orange rind. Spoon into greased and floured tube pan. Bake for 1 hour.

Cook orange juice and 3/4 c. sugar in saucepan for 5 minutes. Pour over hot cake. Let stand overnight. Remove cake to serving plates and tune in to the compliments!

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Tracie Burket
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