Happy are the plants in their hours of sunlight and rain in the garden, the gardener tending them. From seed to stalk, out from the dark, mineral rich manifestations divide and multiply, fruit to seed. The labor, the toil of weeding and watering, the sweat, the weather, the insect bites, the machinery! All forgotten in the harvest, like a mother after birthing, gazing at her babe. Love and respect for natural processes, knowledge and practice of principles, have created an environment for joyous fulfillment. How abundant and beautiful the cornucopia of nature is!
I have returned from an extensive trip up and down the East Coast, touring public gardens, and visiting with friends and family. I have missed picking the peaches! Linda gives me one of many of the large bag of frozen peaches they saved of the harvest while I was errant. I will make Baked Spiced Peach Butter Preserves, see recipe below, at home overnight. Linda leads me to the cellar storage to gather boxes of Bartlett and Asian pear drops and the early pear pickings we will need to process before continuing to pick the ripening fruits in the orchard. We use a portable juicer and experiment with amounts of pulpiness to include, and net 6 quarts of Pear Cider to freeze. At Blase's request, one quart includes fresh ginger. A digestive tonic for the winter days. A basket of bright red and yellow cherry tomatoes is dropped off in the kitchen. They are quickly halved, then into the dehydrator they go. More nutritious snacking materials or for salads and pastas in the winter. Linda sends me home with a piled up quart of Asian pears. I make Vanilla Poached Asian Pears as a dessert for my family, recipe follows....
Baked Spiced Peach Butter Preserves
Ingredients (net 4 pints)
6 lb peaches (peeled, chopped)
1/2 c brown sugar plus 1/4c raw sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground allspice
1/8 t ground cloves
Sprinkle peaches with lemon juice, add the sugars and spices. Smash fruit with potato masher or stick blender leaving some chunkiness to fruit for more peach flavor. Place in large ceramic baking dish and cover, leaving a crack open for steam release, and bake at 200 degrees for 8-12 hours, stirring occasionally. The peaches will cook down to almost half as they condense and become thick and syrupy. Remove from oven. For use within 2-3 weeks, place in sterilized jars, bring to room temperature, cap, then keep in the refrigerator. For long-term storage proceed with placing capped jars in hot water bath and keep submerged for 10 minutes. Let cool. Store in cool dry place.
Tasting Notes: Blase remarked that the peach butter has a chunky sauciness, but not too sweet, with a peachy toothsomeness. The spiciness made Linda immediately think of Thanksgiving.
Vanilla Poached Asian Pears
Ingredients (serves 6)
12 small (or 6 large Asian Pears)
1" vanilla bean
1 1/2-2 c white grape juice or white wine, to barely cover pears
Place whole pears in tall saucepan. Bring to low boil, cover, turn down to simmer for 1/2 hr or more till thin knife pierces pears easily. Remove from heat. Remove pears to separate bowl to cool. Set vanilla bean aside. Place pan back on heat and reduce liquid in half till syrupy. Remove from heat. When pears cool, peel and slice in half. Core. Pour syrup over pears, slice open vanilla bean and scrape the seeds onto the pears, lightly toss. Arrange halves or slice onto serving plates. Sprinkle with fresh ground nutmeg or grated dark chocolate. Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche, plain greek yogurt, or whipped cream.
Tasting Notes: The firm texture and gentle flavor of the pears are enhanced by the hints of vanilla, and preserved in the light syrup. Not too sweet, a delicate, light dessert.