Peaches and Perseverance
I’ve been thinking a lot about perseverance in this season of peaches. Perseverance may not seem to go naturally with peaches, but it does. I learned long ago that life is full of bitter and sweet, hard and easy times. A perfect summer peach can remind us of how sweet life is -- just in that microcosm of fleshy orange fruit, dripping juices -- it can be a moment of rapture. You can’t see beyond it and you don’t think to try. Like new love, impossible to imagine “after.”
Perseverance might seem to be a heavy or negative word for many. For me it’s not laden with negativity. It has weight (a good thing), and is something to be admired. To persevere means “to persist in a state, enterprise, or undertaking, in spite of counterinfluences, opposition, or discouragement.” These counterinfluences are things we all struggle with from time to time. It may be job loss, life transitions, illness or death. We may face setbacks at our chosen work whether caused by others or not in anyone's immediate control. We may have job uncertainty and be tightening our belts.
I’m not suggesting a perfect peach can erase all that, but it sure doesn’t hurt. And sixteen pounds of perfect peaches can teach you a lot.
I received an email notice that a local farm, in anticipation of Hurricane Earl, this farm was slashing prices on the U-pick peaches. Heavy winds could have ruined the crop and encouraging pickers like me was a way to salvage the harvest.
I love farms anyway, so persuaded Mr. City Boy to drive with me “to the country” (AKA 20 minutes from his office.) He enjoyed the shade, a cider donut, and the company of his Blackberry, while I trudged around the orchard picking peaches. A gentle tug would tell me if the one I wanted was ready. So many on the ground made me think how happy a pig would be with all that fallen fruit. Chirping in the rushes drew me to the end of the row for a chance to catch what might be making the unusual noise. It was a flock of Guinea Hens with their magnificent white and black speckled feathers and long necks they reminded me of ladies who lunch and shop with purpose and fun. These girls were on a mission. I learned later they are great foragers for ticks! Go on girls, do your thing!
So Doc persevered at his waiting, I hunted and picked, the girls hunted and pecked.
As I wandered through the peach trees, I marveled at the beautiful long leaves hanging and swaying, the shades of yellow and blushes of red and a light scent in the breeze. I could hear Mas Masumoto’s words in his wonderful book, a tribute to his father, The Wisdom of the Last Farmer. We share Japanese heritage and I find so many of the traits he describes familiar, the values resonate. Resilience, “just enough”, learning from insults, surviving internment, lessons learned from a hard whack and a near death experience, watching and guiding his father re-learning after his stroke... the stories each hold valuable life lessons for farmers and for non-farmers, true wisdom. Resilience, sweat, hardpan soil and the metaphors for life.
I filled two bags with peaches and thought I’d better get them weighed before carrying on to the tomatoes and raspberries. I guess I did get a little carried away as ended up with 16 lbs.! Certainly enough for a pie, a crostata and some gifting. Just what I had in mind. I ended up including some in a spicy barbecue sauce for a pork roast, too.
Poor Girl Gourmet
I found Amy McCoy through David Dadekian and the magic of social networking. I’d read a post on her blog about an outdoor fire pit turkey roast that had me howling in the middle of the night, when I usually work. One of these days the neighbors are gonna start worrying about me. For now I ply them with pie, and crostata.
Amy’s story is one of our times. A freelance producer in network and cable television, she found herself out of work but not out of appetite for the fancy gourmet food she and her husband had grown accustomed to. She embarked on the Poor Girl journey by drawing on simple and delicious family recipes, many from the tradition of cucina povera, what I refer to, lovlingly, as peasant food.
She’s now a published author (Andrews McMeel - buy her book off my Powell’s book shelf and support an indie bookstore and an indie writer as well as Amy.)
I received a review copy and have been returning to it frequently. The beauty of the book is its simplicity. It reminds us we can eat well without “tablescapes” and hoo-ha and without spending unnecessarily on food. This book would be PERFECT for your recent grads, first apartment dwellers, or college students. Heck, it’s perfect for me and I’m on the other end of the spectrum. What I have in common is a love of good food and a realization that one doesn’t have to eat processed crap simply because one is not rolling in dough.
You can roll your own dough, thank you very much. I put together a peach crostata with the last of my Smolak peaches and Amy’s excellent recipe.
Because the recipes are straightforward and they work, you can enjoy really swell meals for less than you’d think. She even does the math for you so each recipe is broken down by cost. This crostata says it serves 6-8 which it does and costs $5.00-$10.00 depending on variables she thoughtfully gives. For example, her peaches cost $2.79/lb. Mine were .99 cents/lb at Smolak! I added a splash of Bourbon and replaced a 3/4 c of the all purpose flour with Organic Pastry Flour.
We enjoyed a piece each the first night, gave about a third to the neighbors, and had about a third left for the next day. It was so easy, I’m going to recommend it to everyone afraid of pie. This is pie with training wheels. No less delicious but somewhat less intimidating. Crostata is rustic and beautiful.
Get these two books and share the beauty of wisdom and sweetness, peaches and perseverence.
♥ This post is dedicated to my Peachie-Pie who is making me proud in his own way and who will appreciate delicious budget-concious recipes. No peach is sweeter than you, Michael-Leigh!