Having too much food is a wonderful problem.
Mom and I were in a peach-picking frenzy last week at the Chico State University Farm. It was the first day for public picking, and we got there just a few minutes after 8.
(Sorry if you missed the U-pick party. It only lasted one week).
As these things go, the big part of the U-pick fun is frolicking in the shade of the trees and pretending to be Laura Ingalls Wilder.
The trees were so laden with fruit that the branches literally drooped. A few were even broken, and this time it was not my fault.
Finding the perfect peach is a bit like how my friends describe dating on match.com. You can run up to one piece of fruit, large and lush, and think it is surely perfection. Yet, if you look to the left or to the right, you’ll spot another, that may or may not be just as nice or better.
At the end, we end up with too much of a good thing.
I knew I wanted to fill a bucket, and Mom was a picking fool.
I didn’t realize until check-out time that she was picking fruit for me as well.
At the end of the adventure, we had 30 pounds, most of which was for me.
I felt like summer Santa Claus, delivering peaches to my coworkers and filling the fridge at my dad’s house.
We gave fruit to the neighbors and still had too much to fit in our own fridge.
Now I wish we had eaten that watermelon I bought on sale over the Fourth of July.
What was I saving it for? Thanksgiving?
To add to the over-abundance, the garden we planted in the black plastic truck bed liner is at its prime production.
The result is that we need to eat one zucchini and one peach each day.
Odd thoughts pop into your head when you’re chopping vegetables.
If you think about some of the most common recipes in the world, many were invented to avoid rotten food.
What to make for lunch?
Available outside my front door: jalapeño, tomatoes.
Located in crisper drawer: mild peppers, Armenian cucumber, white onion
Available, available, available: peaches.
Also handy: lemon juice, minced garlic, salt and pepper.
If you haven’t discovered these gems, grab one at your next visit to the farmers market. They’re huge. One will last you three days.
The curcubits have very light green, crenulated skin.
One day I bought one that was shaped like a circle, and popped it over my neck. I had a great time at the market because I forgot I was wearing a cucumber around my neck.
For the next hour, everyone was smiling at me. What a great town. I love my life. People really like me.
Later I saw my reflection in a window and remembered my light green accessory.
The Armenian cucumbers are also slightly more firm than a burpless, dark green cuke, which helps them last a day longer when sliced.
For a simple snack, serve cold and sprinkle with lemon pepper.
Just like summer salsa, most of our favorite winter recipes began by throwing everything that was edible into a single pot.
Stew, goulash, omelette, quiche, shepherd’s pie, moussaka, soup.
What’s really sad is that we have recipes for tater tot casserole. This means that when a Midwest housewife looked into her cooling unit in the 1970s, all she could find was frozen corn, hamburger, American cheese and frozen potato units. What’s even more sad is that this recipe endures despite what we now know about childhood obesity.
Recipe of excess
When I think about any of the foods above, I think you could certainly throw in a zucchini and nobody would notice.
Here is my favorite new recipe:
Zucchini sliced thin, or sliced Julienne. Three tablespoons olive oil. As much garlic as you dare. Half teaspoon crushed red pepper. Sea salt. Parsley or other herb.
Heat oil in skillet, cook zukes for five minutes. Add other ingredients and cook for one additional minute.