I rarely go a week without visiting a farmers market. I love the colors, enjoy running into friends and I usually find something to eat. However, my freezer is packed with fruit and both crisper drawers in the fridge are full.
When I visited Mom, she showed me her new raised beds and sent me home with a bag full of squash.
Our paper’s advertising director, Fred, shared some of his plum harvest with his fruitless coworkers. My boss at work — even more squash.
Sharing food from our yards is one of the beautiful things about living in bountiful California.
My coworker Sally lives on the outskirts of town where residential streets blend into orchards. At times her neighbors have held garden parties. The friends begin the tour in one yard, spend a half an hour, and visit each gardener on the block. Because so many people grow food, people swap melons for tomatoes.
If you think about it, one mature fruit tree produces a barrel-full of fruit. Nobody likes to eat the same food day-after-day.
Yet, if each person on your block grew a different type of fruit, you could hold fruit-salad parties.
GATHER AND SHARE
The Jesus Center 1297 Park Avenue, will also gladly accept your fresh garden edibles. You can take them to the back door near the kitchen, or through the front doors on Park Avenue.
We’re big into using the dehydrator when someone shouts out an offer to raid their fruit tree. Some of our favorites dried fruits are peaches, Roma tomatoes, persimmons, plums and apricots.
Dried fruit can be chopped into bits with scissors and added to salads or oatmeal.
You can also combine dried fruit, almonds and chocolate chips for a home version of trail mix.
LaDona Knigge sent me a note recently with an invite to pick some of her donut-shaped peaches.
It did not take me long to dig the dehydrator out of the shed and gather up the grocery bags with the strong handles.
LaDona is a clever gardener and her specialty is growing food in just about every corner of the yard.
Beginning in 2010 she and her late husband Willis Geer turned an ordinary home with a front lawn into a food oasis.
By the time the drought slowly crept into our lives, she had colorful balls of food growing right outside her front door.
It takes time and care to grow good among a home’s landscaping.
Her peach tree is near the street, with the heat from the sidewalk doing magic on the ripening fruit. She keeps the tree trimmed small for easy reach and no risky moves on the top of a ladder.
Most of the yard is mulched, which would earn her a gold star in a drought garden contest.
In other parts of her yard she might cut a branch here and there to allow plants the sunlight they need. Or she might tuck an herb in an area that has a nice mix of sun and shade.
The result is that a visitor can walk around the yard nibbling at just about every arm’s length.
In the front, bright red currants look like salmon eggs, ready to put on the end of your fishing rod. Dried or fresh there are many recipes that call for currants, http://tinyurl.com/hsc624u.
Along the fence, LaDona has two blueberry bushed that doubled in size since the last time I visited. The plants are under a redwood tree, which is fine because blueberry plants do well in acidic soil. She said she trimmed a redwood branch to allow the two to coexist.
Along her side yard she has artichokes and herbs galore.
On the other side of the yard, a neighbor’s apricot tree branches out onto her side of the fence.
DRIED FOOD FOR THOUGHT
I haven’t tried this yet, but it sounds like a fun recipe found on epicurious.com,http://tinyurl.com/gslowzo.
Combine 1 1/4 cups dried figs with 2 1/2 cups additional dried fruit, such as applies, apricots, pears or prunes. Zip the fruits in a food processor until the mixture is like a paste. Mix in two tablespoons honey, two tablespoons orange juice and 1/2 cup cocoa powder. Cover and refrigerate until chilled. Next, roll into balls a little bigger than an inch wide.
I’m thinking while we’re at it, you might as well roll the balls in some coconut flakes.