Thursday, August 29, 2013
It's a surreal and heady and off-kilter time right now as I wait for what was private to become public, part of a new collective experience of sorts.
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
They may not be from my tree, but they're still local, their fuzz tender, their fragrance intoxicating. I've got a six-pound bag by my side, destined to become jam this weekend.
There are many schools of jam. Some believe in leaving the fruit as close to jiggly raw as possible, letting high doses of sugar and pectin do the trick.
Me? I love the reverse, boiling pure peaches (and less sugar) almost to the point of caramelization, into the 240 degree range. Only then do I ladle the goo into sterilized jars and give them a proper hot-water bath.
It's a different kind of jam, thicker, visually less reminiscent of the fruit itself. But the flavor knocks you over with a great big POW, which is exactly what I like on a dreary February morning when I need a little sunshine on my toast.
Up next, we're counting down to Concord grapes. Have you seen any in your market yet?
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Another summer has come and shall soon be gone. The ferns in the field have begun to turn brown, and the treetops across the pond have the fintest tinge of red to them. Can it be?
Of course here in Maine they're already quoting the Farmer's Almanac. "Gonna be a bad one this year," says the woman at the antique shop on Congress Street. "They say heavy snow starting in October," she says, only it comes out as "stahhhting" and "Octobah." She continues, "They says it'll be snow through April."
We stare at each other silently, each picturing our own version of cold winter gloom.
I'm not ready, I never am. But we already have our bushels of potatoes, harvested from the garden and curing in the barn. I'm waiting for the onions to bow their heads in final surrender, which should come any day now. The peach tree, so fecund in the past, yielded just a handful this year. The green beans made up for it, prolific enough they were to feed a family of six.
We abandoned it all last week, speeding away suddenly in the dark of early morning, bags barely packed, to be with Clare's sister in the hospital. We both packed black, but by all forces of grace and luck, we didn't need to wear it.
Now comes the grand end to the summer, the Blue Hill Fair. Its creaky Ferris wheel punctuates the skyline, beribboned quilts and tomatoes and gourds proudly on display, hawkers urging you to step right up, just give it one try, win a prize for the little lady, one toss is all it takes. The bumper cars are my milieu, and I have big plans.
This is E.B. White's fair 62 years later, the outlines somewhat changed but the heart still intact. Last year I even spotted two plump happy little pigs snoozing in the shade. Wilbur?