Friday, June 25, 2010

Early Summer Harvest Begins

I just went out and picked a basket-full of red clover blossoms. Red clover is one of my favorite wild herbs. They're so sweet and summery, and a wonderful all-round, gentle female balancer. I had to be gentle of the bees buzzing over them, and I only picked as long as I could stand the ravenous all-day-biting mosquitoes that live down there. But it was worth it! I can't keep my nose out of the basket and they'll be wonderful in my winter-time teas.

We have a big patch of red clover down on the edge of our property where Nathan purposely did not mow. He let the red clover grow because he knows I like to pick it. A wise man knows the importance of a balanced female in his life. It says that in the Bible, you know. ("It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman." Proverbs 21:19)

I've also been doing cherries the last few days. Nathan found time to pick for me (I'm soooo not into climbing up into a tree right now). The pitting is slow-going, especially when the wormy fruit has to be sorted out (the trees, belonging to a friend of ours, are unsprayed, which is wonderful, except for the worms).

I just love the gorgeous color. I feast my eyes on it. (What is it with me and the color red? I can never get enough. Maybe I need it to feel more alive!) I can't seem to take pictures that do the real color justice. I tried all sorts of post-processing, but this luminous, shiny, red fruit is just hard to capture, except in canning jars.

I never knew the wonders of the sour cherry until just last summer. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest where sweet cherries are abundant. We ate Bings by the bucketful. (Everyone always complained about the intestinal after-effects of those things in quantity, but I seem to be immune...) But I never experienced sour cherries, and I couldn't imagine what they'd be good for. There are sweet cherries over in western Michigan where the weather is a little milder, but they don't seem to do so well around here. Tart cherries are hardy, though, and are more widely grown. And now I know what they're all about, because dang, have they got flavor! I love jam made with them, and they're amazing baked into desserts. Sweet cherries just don't hold up in anything but raw munching. These little tart cherries are incredibly juicy, and quite sugary, but with a serious sour pucker. I actually enjoy eating them raw in spite of the sourness just because they're so amazingly tasty. Most people add lots of sugar to jam or baked things made with these, but I'm a sugar-tightwad, so I use the absolute minimum. I think sour, as a flavor, is highly under appreciated.

I made a delicious cherry crisp the other day. It has sour cream and egg mixed in with the cherries, and I found the sweet custard to be the perfect compliment to the tart cherries. I forgot to photograph it, and now it's gone, but it's based on this recipe: Cherry Cream Crumble Pie. I was too lazy to make a pie crust, however, and just made it like a crisp instead. Yum! My new favorite cherry dessert (or... breakfast, as the case may be).

On Wednesday night, Jonah had just gone to bed and I had just bellied up to a sink-full of cherries. Nathan even offered to help. It was getting stormy (we're having a terribly stormy summer here) so Nathan turned on the radio. Pretty soon we were hearing the "tornado-take cover" warnings for our county. A lot of times we just get prepared and pay attention, ready to head down to the basement at a moment's notice. But this was right over us, and pretty severe, so we decided to go wait it out in the basement. It was only supposed to be another 20-30 minutes. So we woke Jonah up, put the radio where we could hear it, and sat in camp chairs trying to keep Jonah calm. He was NOT happy about being removed from his bed and taken to the basement (which is a damp, dank, drippy little hole) with the prospect (in his mind) of having our house blown to Oz. (Oh, I'm so glad he hasn't seen that movie!) Then the radio announced that the warning was extended until midnight. I could not face the prospect of being up late and accomplishing nothing, so I had Nathan bring my cherries down there so I could at least be working on them. I was glad when they called the warning off at 11:00 and we could go to bed.

And at least I got the cherries pitted!

There are more cherries to be picked, but Nathan doesn't have time to pick them, and I don't have time to pit them, considering the state of weeds in my garden, and the fact that I haven't even started getting baby stuff ready (with two weeks until my due date). I should get cracking on that. Soon. First, I need another nap.

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