Much of a good thing

Posted by Anita on 08.08.07 4:25 PM

(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reservedIt’s good to have friends among the landed gentry. In the warm suburbs beyond the fog-wrapped City limits, we’re on friendly terms with plenty of folks who find themselves rolling in a bumper harvest of astonishing variety, looking for creative ways to eat everything before it goes off. Meanwhile, we slickers sit on our decks and wonder if the tomatoes are ever going to ripen, if the basil will survive another week, if the mint might yield enough leaves to make a couple of cocktails before the summer ends.

One of my favorite new friends calls herself a “tomato-ranchin’ bum.” Really, she’s more like a pear-wrangler these days, burdened under so much fruit that she’s resorted to using her harvest as dog toys and paperweights. The poor dear. Of course, we’re green and yellow with envy: Cookie gets more fruit off her newly inherited pear tree in one day than we coaxed from our plum during in its entire (and entirely too short) season.

Knowing that we’re suckers for home-grown fruit, Cookie loaded us up with a jar of eye-rollingly delicious homemade pear butter and an entire grocery bag full of her surplus pears. Not that I am complaining, mind you… not in the least. When we got home, we separated the as-yet-unripe specimens into their own bowl, to help preserve our bounty as long as possible. The ripest of the already-yellow bunch got scrubbed, split, cored, and cubed, then plunked into brandy. By the end of the second night, I could tell we’ll have a winning tipple on our hands in short order. (It’s not going to put Belle de Brillet out of business, but it definitely qualifies as Majestique de Marin already.)

Meanwhile, we’re stuffing ourselves with a warm-weather riff on the salad we ate all last winter: Slivered pears — ripe but still crisp — tossed with spicy arugula (also from CookieCrumb Acres), some flavorful olive oil, and a touch of mild vinegar. Crumble a little Point Reyes Blue on top, ’cause we love it even if the cool kids don’t. Crack a little pepper over the top, and there you have it: A perfect summer salad for those nights when you just can’t bear another caprese.

Anyone else out there with surplus gourmet edibles? Call me — let’s talk.

(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved

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Comment by cookiecrumb

Yeeaaarrghh! (Bellowed Howard Dean style.)
You are beyond kind.
I mean, look. We freighted you with garden glut.
You have done wonderful things with the bounty. Come back soon; the zucchini is just about to explode. Oh, wait. Did I give you any tomatoes? Drat.

Posted on 08.08.07 at 4:41PM

Comment by Anita

Dear me… freight me MORE! One woman’s glut is another’s bounty. Don’t forget that.
(You can keep the squash, though: Other than the blossoms, Cameron and I share a strong dislike of the stuff.)

However, I’m happy to take tomatoes in ANY form: Ripe, green, pureed — it’s all good. If you need help making sauce, you know who to call.

Posted on 08.08.07 at 4:44PM

Comment by Zoomie

Okay, that sounds absolutely delicious! I might add a walnut or two for crunch but in any case – heaven!

Posted on 08.08.07 at 8:40PM

Comment by Mary Alice

That sounds lovely. When we lived in Northern California and were faced with an onslaught of pears we would dry them. They were like candy dried and lasted the whole winter. Great memories and what I wouldn’t do for pear trees again!

Posted on 08.09.07 at 4:52AM

Comment by claudia

i love this idea. sometimes i need a reminder. simple and easy. summer fruit, greens and cheese. and as much as i love tomatoes – sometimes you just need a night off…

Posted on 08.12.07 at 4:08PM

Comment by faustianbargain

a nifty idea(altho’ its not always successful) is to tie a bottle to the branch when the pear tree is blossoming..the blossom becomes a pear inside the bottle and just when its a tad underripe, snip it off and fill the bottle with pear brandy/poire williams!! its to try it with a couple of bottles and one might turn out perfect..these pear-in-the-bottle brandy retails upto $100…it’ll be nice tho’ to make it from one’s garden…

its probably too late in the season now tho’..maybe next year?

Posted on 08.13.07 at 7:20PM

Comment by Anita

Zoomie — we do that, too, sometimes, but this time it was just perfect without nuts.

Mary Alice — isn’t it amazing how much you miss fruit trees once you don’t have them?

Claudia — I hear ya. I sometimes think I could live on tomato and mozzarella, but then I get a craving for greens and realize that there’s more to summer than insalata caprese!

Faustian – totally! We tried to get up to Cookie’s house early enough to do that, but we missed the blossom window. (They just bought the house this year.) Next spring, though, for sure.

Posted on 08.14.07 at 5:42PM

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