Sunday, July 20, 2008

Fruit Fruit Wonderful Fruit!

Ringing in a full month behind schedule because of our extended cold wet spring, the cherries are finally ripe!!! Does anyone want to join me in a rousing version of the Hallelujah Chorus?

We stopped at a nearby produce stand on our way into town yesterday and came out loaded with local bounty. Cherries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, peaches, nectarines, bananas, tomatoes, corn on the cob, new potatoes... it seems that everything has arrived at once. And last night, a neighbouring farmer brought boxes of yellow cherries around in the back of a truck. I rushed out and bought two boxes to put in the dryer.

I'd bought a box of dead ripe tomatoes cheap yesterday and made tomato sauce with them last night. Today I pitted and cut up cherries until I'd filled the dehydrator. They are drying as I type.

But first, because they were so beautiful, I piled a couple of big handfuls on a platter and took a picture. A pile of jewels couldn't be prettier.

Speaking of "jewels", Sal is always fascinated by reflections so when I saw a little cut crystal "rainbow-maker" pendant at the bulk food store yesterday I grabbed it. I hung it in the window where the morning sun hits it. The room is full of inch-long rainbows which shimmer any time the pendant moves. Sal didn't know which way to turn, or which rainbow to grab.

I mentioned to my brother that I was drying cherries, and that last year I'd dried a lot of nectarines and peaches and he told me that our mother dried a lot of fruit when he was a boy. She'd soak them overnight and use them to make fried pies. By the time I came along the food shortages that went with WWII were over. The fried pies she made for me were filled with apple butter or jam. My mouth is watering.

Have you ever had a fried pie? You roll a four inch circle of pie crust, put a fruit mixture in the middle then fold the dough to form a half circle. Moisten the edges with milk and pinch them together, slash the top surface of the dough in three or four spots to allow the steam to escape and fry in an inch of hot fat until it's browned on both sides, turning it very carefully to avoid splashing yourself with hot fat. Once the pie is brown you use a pancake turner to ease it onto a plate and dust it liberally with berry sugar. Don't weigh yourself after a treat like this. It's not worth the heartbreak. This is food that sighs, "Mother..."

I didn't make these for my kids that I remember. I was a health food nut from when the eldest one was a toddler, and almost anything they ate was disgustingly healthy and vegetarian to boot. I wonder if they will have have fond memories of mother's soy-nut patties or lentil loaf? Probably not, though Zak admits to the occasional yearning for tofu hot dogs and what we used to call sweet and sour monkey meat.

Which reminds me, best go check on the progress of the cherries and make sure I'm not getting them too dry - making cherry chips and flakes.

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