A Plethora of Produce

I know it seems a little early in the season to be using terms of abundance like “plethora” but, ironically, some of the produce we’ve felt most starved for over the past 5+ years is actually “spring” or early season produce, so we’ve been in heaven over these past weeks (months, even) with an abundance of asparagus and artichokes from the grocery store, and now cherries and apricots right from our yard!

(Both fruits have been treasured favorites of David’s and mine and were sorely missed in Costa Rica.  I never saw an apricot, to my recollection, and we did see cherries once at the AutoMercado, but at something like $18 a kilo, I let David buy about 5 cherries which perhaps was a mistake since it served only to whet his appetite rather than satisfy it.)

Lo and behold, what a delight therefore to find that we have cherries and apricots growing right here in our yard!  In both cases I had great intentions in the early spring to “spray them” as needed, (knowing, it seems, that most all fruit like that seems to require some type of spraying of god-knows-what sorts of sprays) and I’d diligently researched and found a couple of all-natural, non-toxic alternative products.  But, as is often the case with my good intentions — you know that expression about the road to hell being paved with good intentions? I’ve often figured I must have a super-highway in place by now! — such spraying never took place.

Big ol' bowl of cherries

Big ol' bowl of cherries

So, I can’t say I had terribly high expectations, then, for any of our myriad fruit trees to bring forth much usable fruit.  Imagine my delight when we discovered that not only was our cherry tree covered in very handsome (and sweet) cherries with nary a sign of worm visitation, the two apple trees next to it are laden with good-looking, well-formed (also worm-free, at least thus far) apples.

Picking Cherries

Avila picking cherries

(In fact, those apple trees are doing so well that they’re blocking the cherry tree, causing it to reach skyward toward the sun with an end result that well more than half the cherries are completely out of reach, even with our tallest ladder.  Adds a whole new understanding to the term “cherry-picker” for the piece of equipment and I wish we had one.  As you can see, Avila did her share, but still….)

The apricot tree hides slightly from view, so it was a double-delight when Louise came down the other evening from walking the dogs bearing a bowl-full of gorgeous apricots. (And what was she doing walking the dogs carrying a bowl, you might ask?  Okay, a little artistic license there — she walked the dogs, saw the apricots, came back for a bowl, and went and picked them. You happy now?)

As an aside, with no relationship to produce other than Louise’s diligent attention to the now-daily apricot harvesting, we’re equally delighted to have our dear friends, Chris and Louise here with us finally.  They sold their home in San Ramon and arrived here late in the night just under 2 weeks ago.  They’ve already accomplished huge things — bought a great house, just found a super car yesterday, all the dogs are getting along well, the girls are winning some Skip-Bo games, and life is good!

Apricots

Apricots galore, to my delight

Although the cherries mostly went for fresh eating, I did manage to pit a few cups and freeze them, figuring “fresh” cherry pie or some such would be a treat later this year, and the apricots are showing up as fresh, pitted halves at many meals, just to be eaten by hand on the spot, as many as you can eat.  We’ve also already fixed and frozen a whole bunch of ‘em, with many more to come.  Then, later, I can tackle making apricot jam (one of my all-time favorite types of jam) and other such goodies.

The farmer’s markets have opened in the past few weeks, and Jen and I went to the big one in Salt Lake City a couple of Saturdays ago, mostly just for me to get the lay of the land.  I did come home with some wonderful bunches of baby beets with their greens, so we had great beet greens one night and butter-roasted baby beets another night.  Yum. (I’m not actually much of a fan of regular ol’ big beets, but do love those cute little guys, and I am a fan of beet greens!) Our local market (well, the one in Bountiful, about 3 miles away) just opened a week or so ago and if we can ever remember to go on Thursday afternoons should have some good offerings.

Milk and eggs

Raw milk and cage-free eggs

We also finally made it to the farm where I can buy raw milk (yay!), eggs from pastured chickens, and lots of pastured, organic meats.  I started small, with several gallons of the milk, 4 dozen eggs, and some all-natural breakfast sausage.  It’s a pretty fair drive away (somewhat like our going to Alajuela in Costa Rica) but we also realized it’s practically around the corner from Jen’s sister-in-law Megan who kindly offered to pick stuff up for us and then arrange transfer through the kids or her mom when we “traded off” Avila, so we might avail ourselves of that handy option in the future. We also want to try the meats, so will probably go there again, maybe this Thursday or Saturday (the only two pick-up days) to check things out.

Happily, organic, cage-free eggs are also readily available just in all the supermarkets, for about the same price, so that’s a good back-up on the eggs.  But I’m very glad to get raw milk again — once you learn how good raw milk is for you (and how “not-so-good” processed milk is), it’s hard to use anything else.

As we’re only just now truly getting into summer we should see that “plethora” of produce expand greatly, including — hopefully! — some from our own garden.  In the meantime, we’re sure enjoying our apricots and cherries (along with our air-conditioning now that summer has arrived!) and will keep you posted on garden progress.  Happy Canada Day (yesterday) and 4th of July (Wednesday) to all those who celebrate!

Oh, and of course, the requisite pictures of our cutie… (In case you’re wondering when you see captions referring to LuLu, somehow, slightly inexplicably, that’s what we’ve all ended up calling Avila, a habit we’ll probably regret when she gets to school-age.  It comes from some evolution of their dog, Gibson, being nicknamed BooBoo — in turn possibly an evolution from Jen being called BooBear or JennieBoo — and then Avila was called “LaLa” using that final syllable of her name, but the alliteration of BooBoo and LuLu (LooLoo?) was too powerful, and thus a name is born. What can I say. At this age LuLu seems to suit her perfectly, and if she hates it when she’s a teenager, well, so it goes.)  ;-)

LuLu and BooBoo

LuLu and BooBoo

Love the shades!

First horseback ride

LuLu in red cowboy boots on her first pony ride

poppy and lulu

Poppy and LuLu enjoying the summer evening

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6 Responses to A Plethora of Produce

  1. Wow, can’t get over how big Lulu’s gotten! We’re happy to hear that Chris and Louise found a great house. But I must say, I loved the parts of your post talking about asparagus, artichokes, cherries and apricots. Yumm!
    Here’s a hug from Costa Rica!
    Gloria

    • arden says:

      I know, we *are* enjoying food here! ;-) I’ve *never* had fresh apricots right off [my] tree so they’re a treat, and even though our own cherries are now gone, they’re less than $2 a pound at the store, so David came home with another bag of them the other day. Artichokes never seem completely “cheap” but we’ve actually had them here for a buck apiece, and some huge ones (easily big enough to share) for $2.50, so we’ve been in heaven with those things! I saw LuLu on the pony (carefully staged photos, as it turned out, with her nana or auntie holding on to her then *just* stepping aside for the split second to take the picture!) and thought how could it be barely more than one year since she was a tiny little bundle, with little fingers about the size of #2 pencil lead?!? She’s growing so fast! Does, indeed, make me glad we’re part of it all close-up and not watching from afar!

      Thanks for the hug and here’s one back at ya! Hope all is well there with you guys!
      –arden–

  2. Julie Rea says:

    Well, it’s fun to see Gloria’s comments, and I guess I will finally post one myself, and “Hi” to her & Paul! I enjoy yours and almost responded the previous ones about the “contrasts” between SLC & CR, but will say here it’s good to have you back blogging. I am so jealous of your fruits. We always plant fruit trees first thing everywhere we have lived, but not enough sun here so only had one peach tree, which croaked this year after about 3 seasons of good fruit. Really not even enough sun for that one tree, so envy you inheriting such bounty.

    And yes, the metamorphosis in that first year is just phenomenal. Enjoyed all the pix. Hola to Louise and Chris! Have fun in your new lives! Hugs’n Kisses, Julie

    • arden says:

      Hi, Juie,

      Wonderful to “see” you here! (I do enjoy the comments — maybe I’ll have to write a post sometime just asking people to comment!!) ;-) I know, we had these ancient apple trees in Bowdoinham and it was always fun when we got apples, but having been untended for so many years, it took a LOT of work to get a little bit of good fruit out of each apple. So this bounty coming to us, right in our yard, with NO work (other than the picking and then dealing with it in the kitchen!) is amazing. Lots of apricots in the freezer, peaches in the peach trees, the two apple trees are laden, and we have grapes and a few pears!! I’m also watching over my little veggie pots and front bed so will report later on how those do. Chris and Louise are settling in well and we’re heading up to Park City today after dropping mom at the day center just to look around a little. Can’t wait to see you here one of these days.

      much love,
      –arden–

  3. That’s awesome that you have apricots. Although they have great stuff at the la feria and mercado and it’s really cheap, there are just some types of fruits and veggies they don’t have. Just wanted throw in my two cents about the cherries. We’ve found them at PriceSmart in Alajuela and Escazu too, at least last time we were there a couple of weeks ago. I think it was $5 for a big box.

    • arden says:

      Nice to know that at least *occasionally* there are some bargains in those “hard to find” fruits. That sounds like a great price, even for here. Lots of those things we didn’t miss for several years, but did eventually find that we longed for them, so that’s one thing we’re really enjoying about being back. We should talk sometime about updating some of the costs in your special reports you issue about living in Costa Rica!

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