A Public Sphere for Poetry, Nature, and Politics
Despite my best efforts, I’m a pioneer-woman-manque: I want to be Laura Ingalls Wilder, but I don’t have the stamina for it. I let kale and beet greens get fuzzy in the icebox and have to compost them. I have no interest in hard-core farming practices like killing chickens. What I want is to careen around the kitchen in a cute apron making delicious things to give away, and getting praised.
This summer I learned to can, coached by my friend Janet, and made tomato sauce, tomato soup, and stewed tomatoes. The sight of all those jars gives me inordinate pleasure.
Then pears began falling off my tree. For two weeks they littered my counters, some intact and ripening, some bruised from falling, some with holes where birds pecked them. I don’t mind the smell of ripe fruit, but fruit flies drive me around the bend, so at a certain point I had to buckle down. I sliced the still-beautiful pears and preserved them in brandy. Everything else I chopped up and made into Naked Lady Pear Sauce. This is done with cut-up pears, red wine for them to poach in, and cardamom. You boil it for a long time and then run it through a food processor. It’s called “Naked Lady” because I first did this with friends in a hot kitchen and we took our shirts off while cooking. Also, adding wine gives it the fleshy-rosy color that some of us sport when naked.
My fruit trees have an every-other-year cycle, so I don’t have to do this all the time, thank heavens. We also get a lot of late spring snowstorms, which knock the blossoms off and we don’t get any fruit at all. I’m prepared in a vague way to deal with harvesting, but I don’t think about it until the last minute.
This fall, my 12-year-old Fuyu persimmon tree, which has borne fruit only twice since I planted it, went wild right under my nose. The leaves turned a glorious dark orange and then all fell off during a storm, revealing what I thought were 40 little orange globes. I love the way they hang on the denuded trees like Xmas ornaments.
I picked a few and ate them in salads. My sister Sarah got out the ladder on Thanksgiving and gathered as many as she could reach. Forty turned out to be a hallucination: there were more than 300. They filled baskets and covered counter-tops. Sarah took a bag home with her, and I gave about 60 to friends. That left me with about 200 persimmons. Some I’ve packed into jars with brandy. Some I’m drying, to eat with my morning oatmeal. Naked Lady Persimmon Sauce might be good, or persimmon chutney.
But we’ve discovered they’re fabulous roasted with pepper and sea salt for 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Really. Crumble some bacon and feta over this for any holiday meal. You can’t go wrong. It’s perfect pot luck fare: gluten-free, cow’s-milk-free, unapologetically organic. If you’ve got persimmons coming out your ears, I recommend it. Bon appetit!
Copyright 2017 Molly Fisk