We broke out of our self-imposed quarantine shutdown last Saturday. Furtively, with masks, wet wipes and re-useable bags we headed out west, to find a new farmers’ market where we hoped we could score fresh fruits and veggies. We indulged ourselves further by listening to NPR. We are going to hell in a hand basket, and delighting in every minute. At the market we found our peeps; similarly clad and outfitted, flitting through a vast warehouse complex, eagerly snatching up elephant garlic, peaches, tomatoes, kale, blackberries, blueberries, ears of corn and armfuls of fresh cut zinnias and sunflowers. It was a pleasureable day.
By the time we returned home, though, we realized that our Margaret Keene-sized eyes had been bigger than our bellies.* Now we’ll have to find clever ways to use up all the produce we happily hauled into the kitchen. We covered a whole windowsill with large, crimson slicing tomatoes. The burgeoning bag of kale could hardly be contained in the narrow refrigerator drawer. A dozen peaches tumbled out of their basket. Blackberries and strawberries vied for space in another fridge drawer. Tiny red-skinned potatoes filled a wire basket on the kitchen counter. There are just the two of us. And Luke the wonder dog, of course. But, happily, he is not interested in a glut of peaches.
It’s time to get creative! Summer is the time for juicy watermelon, thick tomato sandwiches and dripping peaches. How can you appreciate a peach unless you feel the velvet skin with your own sticky fingers? If you haven’t had peach juice run down the front of your T-shirt, you have not had a satisfactory summer experience.
Mr. Friday sliced half a peach onto his bowl of cold twiggy cereal this morning, leaving the other half for me on the cutting board. I ate it over the sink, because the juices dripped furiously and there wasn’t anyone around who would point out that I should have been ladylike and used a napkin. Don’t neglect any opportunity to just seize the day, and a peach, early, and eat it in your crude summer fashion.
When sunset rolls along you can consider a cocktail. How about this drink?
Peach Daiquiri – for one
1 ripe peach, peeled, pitted and cut into slices
1 cup crushed ice
2 ounces rum – if you use white rum, add a tablespoon of fresh lime juice for some extra zest
Place all ingredients in a blender. Purée until smooth. Pour into a tall glass and serve immediately. If you are concerned with aesthetics, garnish with a peach slice and a mint sprig. This is the evening substitute for the front porch peach.
Here is a non-alcoholic peach smoothie for the pure at heart:
1/2 cup peach or apricot nectar
1/2 cup sliced fresh or frozen peaches
1/4 cup fat-free vanilla yogurt
2 ice cubes
Or Sangria for the balmy summer weather:
Basic Sangria (from Spain)
3 1/4 cups (26 ounces) dry red wine
1 tablespoon sugar
Juice of 1 large orange
Juice of 1 large lemon
1 large orange, sliced thin crosswise
1 large lemon, sliced thin crosswise
2 medium peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into chunks
1 cup (8 ounces) club soda
Combine all the ingredients except for the club soda in a large punch bowl or serving pitcher, mixing well. Refrigerate overnight. Immediately before serving, mix in the club soda for added fizz. Ladle into cups with ice cubes.
I hate to cook fruit. I think most fruits taste perfect in their raw form. Though everything is enhanced to pure perfection by the addition of vanilla ice cream. But there was a serious stash of peaches in that fridge, and adding alcohol or vanilla ice cream or making peach salsa every day was going to be detrimental to my Quarantine Fitness Regime. We tried an adult approach, and grilled some peaches along with some marinated chicken one night. We added a tiny portion of creamy potato salad to each plate. Perfecto!
Since we are all staying home this summer, it is a good time to reexamine the local bounty. Our tomato crop is proving problematic this year – we have only harvested three tiny cherry tomatoes. And to do that we had to upset the young mockingbird family. A pair has been training their three fledglings in the side yard by the raised garden bed. We’d rather watch their flight lessons from the kitchen window than go down and weed the tomatoes. The parents have been feeding their young ‘uns mouthfuls of fat white fluttery moths, as they practice walking along the balance beam of a dead tree branch, propped on the compost pile in the corner. These are the simple homey pleasures we have been learning to enjoy this summer.
There are no exotic vacations or fancy restaurants in our future. Just a summer of lingering over the grill, exploring the familiar, and slowing down to watch baby birds learning to navigate the world. Our microcosm is a very pleasant place right now.
“There are a whole lot of things in this world of ours you haven’t even started wondering about yet.”
― Roald Dahl