Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Drop Peaches, Drop Hearts

I made peach jam today with drop peaches. They were given to me by the orchardist who sells fruit at our local farmers' market. It was my last market of the season as a vendor (I sell baked goods there), because I start teaching next week and my schedule will no longer allow me to do it. But I hope to still be able to stop by there and grab some produce if I can get there before they close some days. The fruit they sell is wonderful: fat juicy peaches, pears, apricots, plums, and many varieties of apples in the fall.

Drop peaches are perfectly good except they tend to have a large bruise on one side. Damaged goods, they are. Can't sell them (well, maybe for a much reduced price). Can't eat them, plump and juicy, over the sink as you would a healthy peach because you never know if a bit of rot or mush lies just beneath the skin. Also, they tend to go moldy quickly so you have to use them immediately. So to make jam or preserves with them, you have to peel them and carve away all the soft, brown, moldy or damaged bits first. The fuzzy skin covering them, nature's firm but permeable jacket, must be cut away to reveal the vulnerable flesh within.

It feels wasteful cutting away all that damage. Like there's hardly any peach left. Like what IS left might not be good for much. And despite having to be somewhat ruthless cutting away those bruises and gashes, you still have to be gentle with the parts of the peach that are unharmed. Determination and compassion must be applied in equal measure. Also, some of the drop peaches may not be fully mature or ripe; so even if you can salvage portions of it that are free of spots or bruises, they may not be as sweet or juicy as a more mature peach. Oddly, the more mature the peach, the less hardy it is and the less resilient to bruising it is.

But if you're willing, and steadfast, you can make something wonderful from all that damaged fruit. Peach jam was always my favorite growing up: even over strawberry. Jam is summer, kept in a jar. It warms the soul, revitalizes winter tastebuds, and tastes lovely on buttered toast. It is worth making, and it is certainly an act of determined utility and creativity. I mean, turning a pile of bruised fruit into bright jars of sunshine? That is an accomplishment. Sure, you could toss them to the chickens and they'd be grateful for a moment. But think how much more jam will be appreciated by humans in the coming months.

After preparing the fruit, having removed its surface damage and exposed the tender flesh beneath (and of course you gnawed on the fruit left on the pit after cutting the useful parts off: why consign those pits to the compost bin when there are several small bites of fruit left clinging to them?), you then have to chop it. And boil it. And seal it in jars. Sugar and lemon juice must also be added. It's a process, making something beautiful and pleasurable from something bruised and unwanted. You will need fire and water. And other opposing forces you may find within you. It will take longer than you think. You will be rewarded. I wish you joy of it.

Another Way to Serve This Very Large Gourd

More gugutz mania!

This time I sliced a gugutz into thick matchsticks and sauteed it in evoo, with garlic, green & banana peppers, fresh roma tomatoes and some basil and oregano. I tossed in a handful of sliced mushrooms and let it all saute until the shrooms and gugutz were soft.

Used this lovely mess on top of a mound of pasta, dressed it with fresh ground pepper, sea salt and a generous grating of Locatelli parmesan.

O, yeah, sisters. It was mighty good.

My only regret was a lack of foresight is securing some great bread.

Next time.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Tomatoes are perfect and plentiful right now in the southern Highlands. I have three or four varieties, all delicious.

We're eating them for almost every meal because what's the point of making them into sauce or pumate when they are so delicious fresh, fresh, fresh.

If we get to the end of the season and I have an overabundance, I will make homemade tomato sauce and can it for the winter.

But until then, I will be eating things like the ones above.

The top image is simple sliced tomato on sliced white bread, with mayo and dressed with sea salt and capers. That was breakfast. Here in the south we used to call sliced bread "light bread".

The one underneath is the traditional tomato salad--slices of tomato and fresh mozz, interspersed with basil leaves, drizzled with olive oil and dressed with a little salt and pepper.

That was lunch.

We had them sliced and salted to go with our breaded and fried gugutz, okra and eggplant banquet. Yep, that was supper.

Tomatoes. Maters. Dumadas.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Pagan Drinkies

I wanted to share my drink creation with you. I've been thinking about it for weeks but only got to try it last night. It's called a Brujita (which means "little Witch" in Spanish). Refreshing drink for summer--we had it last night with a crazy Mexican spread of guacamole, stuff-your-own-tacos, mango salsa and chips.

It's like a Bloody Mary, except you use tequila instead of vodka. Over ice. Crushed cilantro in the bottom of the glass.

Extra yummy. Didn't make a photo but will the next time.

What are you drinking this summer--besides water?

Hydration is important, after all.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


This is a cucuzzi growing in my kitchen garden. Interesting shape, don't you think?

This is a pan filled with sliced cucuzzi (gugutz).

This is a slim breadkin, smeared with olive oil and minced garlic, covered in gugutz slices, sprinkled with grated parm and baked.

We had them this evening with a big salad. They do taste zucchini-like, but moister, higher water content. They are slightly sweet, too.

As more of them ripen, Ill be finding other ways to prepare them. But I wanted the first thing to be simple, so I could really taste it, determine the texture, etc.

We have begun harvesting the big tomatoes and I had a juicy great one for an evening snack. More green beans have been blanched and put in the freezer. The first batch of elderberries have been picked, cleaned and frozen.

Harvest, my friends!

But we could use a couple of days of good rain and that's the truth.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I Really Only Have One Thing to Say...

Okra and yellow crookneck squash in a frying pan = summer.