In this week's The Willowbee Tree story, “Afraid of the Dark,” Piper doesn't want to go to sleep because she is afraid of what might be hiding in the dark corners of her room. One night, the wise Willow Tree takes her to Madagascar, where it is a very dark night. Hidden in the darkness are a fun-loving bunch of lemurs that teach Piper that the dark is not only fun, but holds many happy creatures that only wish her well.
As we approach summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, the night is not only fun—think barbecues and lightning bugs and star gazing—it's also short. From my middle-America vantage point, we're down to only about 7 hours of true darkness, and if you're further North, it's even less.
We're also at the height of summer fruit season, which makes the following dessert—inspired by Piper's trip to Madagascar—even sweeter.
The fruit of a species of native orchid, Madagascar vanilla beans are famous the world over for their heady fragrance and sweet taste. While the beans can be expensive, their tiny, gooey seeds will lend a unique, luxurious flavor to anything you want to add them to.
Mixed with bright summer fruit, Madagascar vanilla beans make a simple, sunshine-y dessert.
Mango With Vanilla Bean
1-2 ripe mangos (feel free to experiment with your favorite summer fruit)
1 vanilla bean
Peel the mangos and cut the into bite-sized chunks. Carefully use the point of a sharp knife to split the vanilla bean in half, then use the flat side of the blade to scrape the gooey vanilla seeds out. Mix the vanilla seeds with the mango bites, tossing them together well with clean hands. Allow the fruit to chill in the fridge for a few hours to let the flavors meld, if you can stand to wait that long!
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About the Author
The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.
Meryl lives in a hundred year old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two pre-schoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion--showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun--in her weekly Sparkle Kitchen posts.
When Meryl isn't writing for Sparkle Kitchen, you can find her on her personal blog, My Bit of Earth, where she writes about chickens, babies, knitting, gardening, food, photography, and whatever else tickles her fancy on any given day.