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.
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.
(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!
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.
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.)