I'm finally settling back down in the States, as much as I can these days. I'm not sure what I'll be doing next autumn, much less next month. Being back State-side is a mixed bag; lots of things I love and lots of things that are hard to get re-used to. Some things I hope I never get re-used to.
But that's another post for another time. I'm in a hurry and just wanted to let my avid readers know with what the majority of my time in the last few days has been taken:
All kinds of fruit! I visited my brother and sister-in-law over in Louisiana last week and picked up about 8 pounds of blueberries and about 5 pounds of blackberries. Last week was dedicated to freezing half of each, cooking blueberry muffins, and then heading back to LA to attend my sister-in-law's citizenship ceremony (congrats once again!). Freezing blueberries/blackberries is not a small chore since each berry must be washed, inspected, dried, and laid out on cookie sheets to freeze. After the berries have frozen overnight, they can then be placed in plastic bags. This keeps them from sticking together and getting all gross when thawing out. Berries, berries, berries!
Today I spent the morning trying to pay a little attention to my grandmother's mini-peach orchard. It's mini because there are only four trees. Last year the four trees produced a total of about 30 peaches, only half of which were actually good. I pruned all the trees last year (something that hadn't been done for around three years). Two trees are beginning to ripen and are loaded down with close to a thousand or more peaches between the two (not exaggerating; the branches of one are literally laying on the ground). Unfortunately, no one was around a few weeks ago to thin the peaches when they should have been (1,000 peaches is waaaaay too many for two trees), so they are all about half the size of normal peaches. But they are just as sweet and delicious!
This morning was spent thinning the other two trees. I picked off almost 200 small green peaches, hopefully giving the rest a chance to grow big and strong. Then I picked about a bushel of peaches from the ones that are beginning to ripen. This is actually the second bushel (I took about a bushel to my bro last week), but there are still a good 15 bushels out there. Incredible. And what are we going to do with them all?!?!
Then the afternoon was spent pouring over recipes on what we should do with the rest of our blackberries, blueberries, and the forthcoming great load of peaches, and I mashed all of the rest of the blackberries in an attempt to de-seed them. It was a brutal experience. I'm not sure we'll ever get the blood, er, juice cleaned up. I made blackberry tea this evening, and we went shopping for ingredients for tomorrow's adventure. We're going to make blackberry cobbler tomorrow while the rest of the blueberries have been sentenced to a fate of ice cream and scones. Yummy!
We've also come up with recipes for peach and pecan pie (my grandmother's pecan trees produced a load last autumn after I left for France), peach ice cream, and peach cobbler. And, of course, we'll probably jam/jelly quite a bit too.
About the time we finish with the first batch of peaches, the second batch should be ripening. These will be much nicer for eating and, perhaps, freezing.
Then - Oh, we aren't done yet! - the grapes and figs should be ripening early next month and, since I also pruned both of them for the first time in several years last year, they both promise to produce a healthy crop as well this year. And, if this isn't enough, I feel confident that we will be blessed with several bushels of persimmons, and possibly even some apples and/or pears in the next few weeks as well. And I'm crossing my fingers that more berries will be arriving from Louisiana in a few weeks' time.
Finally, if I'm still around in September, there's the pecans that will need to be harvested once again...
The funny thing is that I'm actually loving all of this! From picking blueberries/blackberries to thinning the peaches and helping my grandmother come up with interesting ideas for what to do with our bounty, I'm finding this all quite interesting and invigorating.
Maybe I should be a farmer.