Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fall Grazing

This year, the plum trees along my alley started firing their missiles early. Last year, I remember plucking plums out of the snow some mornings. But this year each morning, I get to fill my basket in my T shirt. When I get up, I tippy toe out my back gate, past my friend BJ's RoadTrek, which is her home on wheels, soon to be heading south, past the 2 immense, leaping dogs across the alley (see below), , past the abandoned camper with the cat on top, to my destination-the 3 heavy laden plum trees.

For some reason, each year, the fruit on the trees is far from ripe until it comes tumbling down into the grass, gravel or cement. When I look up at the branches, I see bushels of fruit still airborn, so I will be busy for awhile when they decide to come down. The hint of purple in the grass reminds me of Easter egg hunts. They are even the same shape. I don't know until I pick it up whether it will be a perfect ovoid or a slimy gob of fruit goo, half gutted by hornets or ants. I bring a separate bucket to pick up the goo so that my finger tips don't keep re-visiting the same bummers. They go in a special compost pile. Those pits will make great soil, but it will take time and llama manure, I suspect.

Under one of the plum trees, I noticed a fresh crop of stellaria, my 2nd favorite salad green after arugula. It looks just like it does in the spring, little blossoms sparkling out of the grass, all ready for picking. I wonder if chickweed pesto would be a wonderful taste treat? Chickweed and mint might create a zingy sauce for rice or pasta. Inventing new foods from grazed ingredients is like a riotous collaboration with Ma Nature in the kitchen. It makes me giddy just thinking about it.

A brand new breakfast cereal I think I invented: Get out your iron fry pan and roast brown rice that has already been sprouted and dried (soaked in water for a day, then laid out on a tray); then grind to a powder in an electric coffee grinder (I keep one for only seeds, spices and nuts). Add 2-3 Tablespoons of the rice powder with 1 cup water, simmer for about 15 minutes (be sure to keep stirring and adding water), and voila, cream of rice on steroids. With some plums, almond butter and maple syrup thrown in, it was amazingly filling. that has to be the most economical breakfast in the history of the world (or not).

I am thinking about
Plum Chutney. This is my haul every morning, until the frost and then watch out; it will be snowing plums. Other grazing earlier this year took Al and I to a friend's cherry orchard where we picked 15 gallons of cherries. A plum, peach, cherry cobbler is certainly in my future. Speaking of which, the blackberry peach cobbler at East Shore Smoke House is not to be missed. they have a unique yellow bisquit that perfectly complements the fruit. Also, their Cherry Chocolate Bread Pudding with Vanilla Sauce is exquisite.

I can't believe I was fasting just a few weeks ago. Imagine going 8 days with no solid food and not being hungry. That story will star in a future blog in October. But for now I am eating with gusto and enjoying every wildcrafted bite. Remember find something insanely fresh for your mouth every day!

It is just the best feeling to know that morsel
you are chewing came directly from the earth or from God or angels or All That Is; whatever you want to call it, and it is traveling like a rocket into that other piece of earth/God/Angels/ATI which is You! Something so neat & tidy about that. Freshness and wholeness are the essence of that transformation. I am biting into an item that is whole unto itself. Nothing quite like that. Produce is really the only thing that is still in its original format. If all the non-whole products were vacuumed out of the grocery store, there would be only one aisle. Guess which one?

When our bodies were being perfected about 10,000 years ago, that was the only kind of nutrition around, things whole in themselves. Now almost everything we eat has been taken apart and put together, assembled from parts. I suspect that is confusing, if not debilitating for the average physiology. Everything from french fries to pudding to bread is a conglomerate of substances that would never come together without human aid. Maybe a simple health regimen would be to eat some things that are whole everyday. That's where grazing comes in.

Freshness and wholeness is a given with alley forage. Especially when you yank it right out of the ground or off the tree (giving thanks of course). Elapsed time from harvest to table = 15 seconds instead of 4-10 days. It's harder to feel the resonant spirit in a box of cake mix that has been parked God knows where for half a year.

When does that mouthful stop being chickweed or plums or blackberry cobbler and start to be me, I wonder? In my mouth or stomach or later? Or is it always me..and you and earth and sky? These are the things a girl gets to ponder when she doesn't have a day job. More about that next time.
As Julia Child always says,