Thursday, October 4, 2012

a rainy day's memories

thursday, october 4

Autumn , "season of mists and mellow fruitfulness" . John Keats. I've always loved those introductory words. It's been more than  misty these past few days, with occasional fierce downpours and slow, steady soft rain. It's brought a bit of melancholy, transitory, and some indoor efforts including baking cookies for Halloween when the kids in the neighborhood implore their parents to bring them here first for "homemade stuff". I'm  making them now and freezing them as I don't return from Italy until the night before trick or treat takes place. I also prepared dinner to bring over to my son who is under the weather with pneumonia. His favorite part of the meal was the salad, a mix of pea shoots, radicchio,blue cheese and pear slices  The pears brought memories of my husband, Dean who planted an orchard at our country inn, researching it in his scientific way, deciding an espaliered approach was best and discussing it all in detail with orchardists.He built supports and wired the apples, pears, apricots and plums to them, planting those bloomed first up front and the last to bear fruit at the rear. We went out to the gardens every night after dinner and one evening as we approached the apples I noticed that the trees reputed to bear fruit in October were laden with apples, in August.  When I pointed this out to Dean he  was horrified - science  had failed him. The more crestfallen he became the more I became gripped by hysterical laughter. He'd done all the research, he couldn't believe this. I fell  on the ground, unable to stop laughing,  He was not amused.
As if this blow to scientific research was not sufficiently astonishing and disappointing to my beloved, there was more to come. After a long and busy day and a full house of guests I sat out on the patio after dinner and glanced at the stuccoed wall where Dean had espaliered in a most artful fashion non-bearing pear trees - the owners of the orchard from whom he  bought them assured him that though there would never be fruit, the trees would be marvelously decorative - and they were. After a second glance I walked over to the wall and oh my god  there were more than  fifty large and perfect green pears. I called out to Dean and pointed this out to him. Incroyable - he had to sit down. I did a better job of concealing my  amusement and promised him all sorms of dishes from this totally unexpected lagniappe and that perhaps soothed his soul - a bit! I made good on my promise - pear sauce, pear muffins,  pear cake, pears  baked and napped with a custard sauce. And some guests left with little bags of our unexpected bounty.
Tomorrow evening my great pals Jim and Jane are coming to dinner.We'll start with drinks and a little autumnal plate of deglat noor dates, a chunk of good parmesan and some roasted almonds. At table a simple salad and a whole fluke resting on a layer of potatoes with lots of lemon slices and some rosemary. I' make a light lemon vinaigrette to sprinkle on the fish. With this, snow peas and tiny turnips, caramelized in the oven. For dessert, apple charlotte, a perfect fall dessert. I love being with these two, lots of  easy conversation and laughs.
ah,  there's a bit of sun peeking from behind the clouds - may in hang around for a while.

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