Friday, January 11, 2013

Times of Plenty (Even Too Much)

The garden did well this year. I'm grateful for the child labor that picked the food for me and transported it via scooter. (Although I struggle to understand the scooter method...they do possess a big red wagon.)

Moreover, for the very first time, the baby peach tree we planted when we moved in five years ago had a harvest. A really big harvest.  I was surprised to have such an abundance of fruit on the first go-around.

I have lots of experience with baby fruit trees but very little experience harvesting fruit because growing up, my family moved into a new house every three years with no preexisting landscaping.  I remember once, and only once, my parents chose a lot that happened to have a mature apple tree on it.  It was late fall when they bought the lot and we tasted some delicious apples.  But in the spring, we found the apple tree had died during the winter.

At another house, we had a baby apple tree that  produced one apple.  And it worked really hard at growing that one apple.  The tree's whole skinny, pathetic trunk bent into a u shape under the weight of that one tiny apple.  People pointed out to us that the apple was more than that baby tree could bear but we let the tree suffer, hoping to eat it in the fall. Then one day my Grandpa came over, saw the tree's predicament and without pausing to ask for permission came to the tree's rescue and plucked the unripened, cherry-sized apple off.  The tree sprang back up in relief.  The next summer, many blossoms appeared on the tree.  And we moved.

So I was expecting a somewhat whimpy start for our peach tree, too, but apparently when a peach tree fruits, it really, really fruits.

Now, if only the kids knew how to cook, too. We had such an overabundance of certain foods that using up our harvest dominated all menu planning throughout the fall. I learned many new ways to cook squash.  My favorite was to shred it and use in in meat loaf, in place of bread crumbs or oats.  Purple corn tastes just like yellow corn, but is better roasted  than boiled because the purple color is not pretty when diluted.  Our grapes are seeded (grumble, grumble, because I was sure I bought the plants that claimed to be unseeded) and so we cooked a lot of grape juice and strained the seeds out.  I made my usual Thanksgiving side dish (green bean casserole) with my own homegrown herbs.

We did not have an overabundance of pears.  We had about a dozen and my four-year-old ate them all. He does not feel the need to wait for them to ripen, so he gets to them first.

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