Saturday, August 10, 2013

Enjoying the Peach

After a heavy rain that goes on for days and days, all sorts of changes in the natural world begin to manifest. Creatures come out to play that have remained hidden.

That's how I cam across the red velvet ant.

That's also how I came to meet the seventy year old box turtle. 

It is how a little butterfly cam to land on my finger.

Due to the excess of moisture, bizarre mushrooms have popped up overnight in our lawn, and they look like something from out of a story book.

We are not going to eat these mushrooms, because a search of the Missouri conservation site does not have them listed as either poisonous or non-poisonous.They are not listed at all. A friend says this is because these mushrooms don't normally grow here. They belong in the northwest.

But the fruit on the trees continues to ripen and fall to the ground, and we are definitely eating that. We all love peaches, and we enjoy getting them a the peak of their ripeness.

It is always a pleasure to watch Bow savor a ripe peach.

Monday, August 5, 2013

It Never Rains But It Pours

This has been an excellent growing season, due in part to the almost continuous rain that we have had. For the past week, it seems to rain almost every day. We wake up to a darker dawn, and it keeps raining throughout the morning. Then it clears up for a while in the afternoon, then rains again toward night.

The darkness keeps us very sleepy in the morning, but the abundant supply of rainwater has made our fruit trees very fruitful indeed.

Some years we have no fruit at all. One year a late frost killed off all the blossoms before they had a chance to grow into fruit. But that did not happen this year.

This year, even though we had snow in April, we still ended up with an abundance of fruit.

 Our peach trees are laden with fruit. Absolutely no work went into producing this bounty. I did not spray, fertilize, water or otherwise tend to these trees. I never water. In fact, last year, when there was a severe drought, we lost two peach trees in the front yard and one in the back. Since it didn't rain, they got no water, and they did not survive. You can catch a glimpse of the dead trees in this video from yesterday, when I was picking up pears from the ground during a short lull in the rain.

Even though we have more peach trees than pear trees, it is the quantity of pears that is currently overwhelming. How can we possibly eat all of them? Even after we give some away to friends and neighbors, how will we preserve the rest?

The storm broke off a branch from the pear tree, so we are picking those pears off the branch and bringing them home when they are still green, though they turn yellow when they ripen.

There are bunches and bunches of pears crowded together on every branch.

 Many fall to the ground before they are ripe.

Some are already a little overripe by the time I pick them up. Because of this, I have been serving pear slices to my family for dessert, cutting out the rotten bits and saving what is good.

Just because this pear is partly overripe does not mean we throw it away.

I cut out and discard all the brown bits, but there is still enough to make a nice snack of pear slices.

Bow appreciates every slice of pear I serve him.

Nature is all feast and famine, drought then flood. It is the way of life. It is how we are tested. Those who don't survive the famine have no place at the table for the feast. Next year, that might be us. There is no telling what the future will bring. But while we still may, we enjoy the feast before us.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Israeli Tahini

My mother was recently here for a three day visit. One of the treats she made us was homemade tahini. She also brought the recipe with her from her first cookbook.

I don't know why, but the recipe is entitled "Tahini Salad", although I would not classify it as a salad at all. Here is what is says:

  • 100 grams tahini
  • about 100 grams of water
  • lemon juice to suit your taste
  • garlic, lemon, parsley
  • stir the tahini with the water and the lemon juice
  • add as a condiment ground garlic, salt and chopped parsley
  • The density of the tahini is dependent, of course, on the amount of water. It is possible to reduce or increase the amount of water, depending on the thickness you want.
My mother no longer relies on the exact directions given in her first cookbook, of course. She doesn't measure everything, and she just has a sense of how much of each ingredient is needed. We did not have parsley as one of the ingredients on hand, so no parsley was used.

The ingredients my mother  used were 2 cloves of garlic, the juice of one lemon, a sprinkling of salt and, of course, the tahini and water. Tahini is a sesame paste made from ground, hulled sesame seeds. It has a very high fat content and is good for people on a low carb diet.  Even though I never use them, it was good that I had on hand both a primitive hand powered juicer and a press for the lemons and the garlic.

My mother prepared the lemon juice and the garlic and the water and tahini in the kitchen.

Then she added the water to the tahini.

By this time, Bow, who was watching us from the pens felt a little left out, so we took everything and finished the preparation in the pens. My mother showed Bow what she was doing and also explained it.

The first batch was for an event at Orchard House. Lanie Frick spoke about the transformation of her artistic process. It was a great talk, and the refreshments afterwards included my mother's tahini, which was very well received. 

Before she left, my mother made another batch for us to enjoy at home. Here is some footage of  Bow savoring his portion.

Normally, one uses the pita bread to dip in the tahini. I explained that to Bow, and he had seen it demonstrated, too. But he preferred to do things his way. First he ate the pita bread, and afterwards he licked the tahini off the plate.

Whichever way you decide to eat it, Israeli tahini is very good. You might be tempted to lick the plate yourself, if you run out of pita bread.