Posted tagged ‘apples’

“A basket of ripe fruit is holier than any prayer book.”

February 19, 2018

When I got the papers this morning, I expected a warm day, but I was disappointed. It’s a chilly day. The sky is cloudy and rain is predicted for tonight. I do have a couple of errands to do later.

This morning, while my coffee was brewing, I had a surprise burst of energy. I polished a shelf, swept the kitchen, washed the cat dish and cleaned the sink and counter. That’s the most housework I’ve done in a few weeks. I’d like to think this burst of energy will be a rare event.

I treated myself this morning and had two lemon biscotti with my coffee. I love the taste of lemon so much I could live on lemon squares. Lemon meringue pie tops my list of favorite pies. I think we were one of the few families where a lemon meringue pie was traditional for Thanksgiving. I even learned to cook a few dishes with preserved lemons.

I’d never turn down anything made with pineapple except maybe pizza. In Ghana I ate pineapple just about every day as part of my lunch, always a bowl of fresh fruits. I like Thai food with pineapple. I almost don’t care about the other ingredients. In my cook book from Peace Corps Ghana was a recipe for pineapple upside down cake. I always wanted to make it, but I had no oven, only a charcoal burner. A couple of old cook books from the 50’s have pictures of a finished pineapple upside cake. They are perfect and have a cherry in the middle hole of the pineapple.

When I was kid, only a few fruits were available all year. My mother bought bananas, oranges and apples. The apples were always red. The oranges had seeds. In the summer we had watermelon and grapes, green grapes. At Thanksgiving we had tangerines, our parade snack. I didn’t even know fruits likes mangoes and papayas existed. Coconuts were on tropical islands in the books I read. We were fruit deprived.

“To find perfectly ripe fruit, catch it.”

September 2, 2017

Last night I needed an afghan, and this morning is chilly again, but hot weather is coming back next week. Rain is due late tonight into tomorrow, but Sunday will be lovely. Monday will be traveling home day for the tourists. I’ll be happy to wave goodbye and have the roads back, especially on rainy days.

I have a thoroughly empty dance card this weekend. I toyed with inviting friends for dinner and a movie but decided just to hang around and do whatever. I have to go to the dump sometime this weekend because of the full trash bag sitting on the kitchen floor. I dare not put it outside on the deck. Critters attacked a bag the last time I put one out, and it was gross cleaning up all that garbage and trash, especially the coffee grounds.

When I was a kid, I used to spit out the apple skin. My mother would sometimes peel it for me, but not all the time so I’d spit. Oranges needed to be cold. Bananas couldn’t have black spots or be green. Peaches had fur so I never ate peaches. I liked pears even with the skin. I ate strawberries but only in strawberry shortcake. I liked the biscuits my mother made for the shortcake, and I loved the whipped cream. Lemons were only good for lemonade, but my mother preferred a short cut, frozen lemonade. At Thanksgiving we had date-nut bread and tangerines. My mother kept boxes of raisins as a snack for us, but I preferred cookies for snacks. Coconuts and pineapples seemed exotic for me though I probably didn’t know that word back then, but I do remember thinking they belonged on a tropical island, someplace like Hawaii. There were other fruits available but we didn’t eat them.

Every day in Ghana, I had a fruit salad of sorts for lunch. It had cut up pineapple, oranges, bananas and sometimes mangoes. That was the perfect lunch for the heat of the day. The fruits came from Southern Ghana. They didn’t grow where I lived, in the savannah grass land, only the pawpaw did. I could buy whole coconuts but I never did. From small girls who carried a display box of sorts on their heads I bought toasted coconuts balls, brown and sweet. I could buy oranges from aunties selling them along side the road. They would cut off the top and peel a bit around the cut with a single edge razor blade so I could get at the juice. Oranges didn’t have to be cold any more.

“There are only ten minutes in the life of a pear when it is perfect to eat.”

May 1, 2017

My patience is exhausted so I’m putting Mother Nature on notice. Make up your mind. Is it spring or isn’t it? My heat went on for a bit this morning, and I had to add another afghan as I was cold. The gray sky has returned, and it rained earlier this morning. My dance card has a bunch of house stuff to do like the laundry. It overfloweth. I have some trash and recyclables which I need to move to the trunk. Tomorrow will be dump day, but I have to get a new sticker first. Be still my heart!

When I was a kid, I could eat hot dogs every day. The best were barbecued, but that was on the weekends when my father was home. During the week, my mother fried or boiled them. When she fried them, she’d make cuts across the dogs so both inside and outside got browned. I used yellow mustard and piccalilli. Toasted buns were the best.

 

During the week, my mother served some sort of meat with potatoes and vegetables. The vegetables were frequent flyers, the list of what we liked was limited. We had mashed potatoes, corn, peas, carrots or some sort of squash. Butternut was our favorite.

My mother made great brownies. They were always frosted with chocolate and sprinkled with jimmies (the Boston/New England word for chocolate sprinkles). I liked the harder, outside edges.

Bananas were my favorite fruit. They were the easiest to eat. Just peel. I also liked them on my cereal though they always sank to the bottom. My mother used to peel the apples for us because we didn’t like the peel. I didn’t mind it when I got older. She’d cut the oranges into eighths and take out the seeds. We loved watermelon but ate it only in the summer. I don’t think it was available winters. I didn’t like the seeds in grapes. We used to pick pears off the tree in the next yard. I think they were never as I remember them being hard to bits. Blueberries came in a pie and strawberries in a shortcake. Pineapples and coconut came later. I think coconut is my favorite now.

I think my laziness dictates my meals. I don’t often make dinner. Lunch is a sandwich or hummus, or something equally easy. Cereal is sometimes dinner. I’m into Frosted Flakes, and I still add bananas.

“Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen, Voices whisper in the trees, ‘Tonight is Halloween!'”

October 31, 2016

I never understood why the nuns expected us to work and pay attention to lessons on Halloween. We were on a silent countdown to the trick or treat hour when our mothers would let us out so subtraction or English just didn’t matter. The challenge all day was to look interested without caring a whit.

We had chosen our costumes weeks ago. On the walks to and from school, my friends and I discussed the possibilities. The costumes would be homemade, and in those days they weren’t too sophisticated. We thought about being ghosts, but that was just too easy. A hobo was okay. We’d use make-up for a beard and carry a stick with a bucket at the end for our candy. Our mothers could sew patches on the pants and shirts. A scarecrow mostly just needed make-up and straw. With a few curlers and a robe, we could be our mothers or grandmothers. Paint a couple of pieces of cardboard, wear one in front and the other on the back, and you’re an ace or a two. Costumes just took imagination.

My mother would buy us masks, if we needed them, and trick or treat bags. Sometimes, though, we’d use pillow cases as bags hoping for a big haul. Halloween day was almost as long as Christmas Eve. We’d get dressed early and beg my mother to let us out. We’d keep watch hoping to see a trick or treater as proof it was time. Finally, my mother would let us out. We’d do the neighborhood first. It took a while as the neighbors oohed and ahhed and guessed who we were, as if it were difficult. After that, my brother and I would do the town. The 5 cent bar houses were our first stops. We hated the apple houses except the ones which put pennies or a nickle in their apples. I was never fond of candy corn or popcorn balls. We’d wander the town until the outside lights went dark. On the way home we’d go through our bags and eat a favorite candy bar or two. When we got home, my mother would give us each a big bowl for our candy. We’d sit on the floor and trade.

We could stay up late because the next day was a Holy Day, and we didn’t have school. We did have to go to church, but it was worth it to have the whole day.

“There are three things that I’ve learned never discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.”

October 24, 2016

I was snuggled under the covers, and Gracie was right beside me with her head on the other pillow. She is my thermometer so I knew the house was cold, but I got out of bed anyway. The temperature was down to 63˚. I turned on the heat for a bit. I also put on socks and a sweatshirt. This is the time of year when the house is colder than outside. Last night it rained. I heard the drops before I fell asleep, but the morning was sunny. The day is rather pretty.

We have a couple of errands today. The most important is for dog food. Gracie seems to expect to eat every day, and I always oblige. When she’s ready for dinner, she sits in front of me and stares. Sometimes she is hungry early and other times much later. I used to keep her to the clock, but I realized I eat when I’m hungry and so should she.

When I got home from Ghana, I was really worried about Fern. She seemed so delicate. I could feel her bones when I patted her, and she didn’t have much energy. Lu, my house and pet sitter, said Fern didn’t eat much. I knew she had gotten her medicine as another pet sitter came by every night to give it to her, but usually she is quite the eater. I started giving her treats, lots of treats, and I bought several cans of her favorite food. Fern has bounced back. She demands treats and eats her canned food. Yesterday she wouldn’t let Gracie go by her. She just sat in front of Gracie immobile and threatening. Gracie went the other way. That’s my Fern.

I’m thinking I need to do a bit of baking. Apples and pumpkins are two stars of this season. Time to go through my recipes.

I have been avoiding it, shutting down the deck. It seems like giving up, giving in to the change of season, admitting winter has its toe inside the door. Turning on the heat this morning was another admission that summer is really over and fall is starting to pack.

“Someone once threw me a small, brown, hairy kiwi fruit, and I threw a wastebasket over it until it was dead.”

June 19, 2014

The day was just beginning when I woke up this morning. I tried to go back to sleep but couldn’t so I came downstairs. The papers weren’t even here yet so I checked the TV news then went on the deck. The sky is cloudy and the morning has a damp chill. People have yet to stir. Across the street my neighbors still have their shades drawn. I can hear four different bird songs. It has been a long time since I last woke so early.

My mother never bought peaches. I didn’t like them and I don’t think my sisters did either. I always thought peach skins looked hairy, and I could never get beyond that. When I was little, my mother used to peel my apples for me. She’d also cut the oranges into pieces, sometimes four, sometimes eight. I was on my own with bananas. My mother only bought tangerines at Thanksgiving. They were easy to peel and eat in segments. I just didn’t like the seeds. There were always so many. Pears were best when they were yellow. I learned that when I used to take green pears from the neighbor’s tree. They were hard to bite and tasteless. Another neighbor had grapes and never minded when we picked them. They were big and purple. Watermelon was summer and I remember juice rolling down my hand and on my cheeks. Cherries were best because you got to spit the seeds. We always had a contest. I didn’t usually win.

Exotic fruits were of the future. I could never imagine a kiwi, a pomegranate or a carambola. I ate my first mangos and paw paws, papayas, in Ghana. I thought the mango tasted like furniture polish, but I loved the paw paw and eventually even came to love the mango. Cut fresh pineapple and sweet green oranges sold by the aunties on the sides of the road were my favorites. For lunch every day I had a bowl of cut fruit.

I buy bananas, and I love strawberries. Only if I have a recipe in mind do I buy blueberries. They are not for eating out of hand unless you’re picking them. I love watermelon. Cold watermelon on a hot day is like manna from heaven. It still drips down my hand.

“Happily we bask in this warm September sun, Which illuminates all creatures…”

September 23, 2012

It must have rained during the night as the street and driveway are wet, but I never heard the rain. The morning is warm. The sun rose without being seen, hidden as it is behind clouds. I went to bed really early and woke up in the dark. I can’t seem to shake the last time zone. My newspapers aren’t even here yet.

This is my favorite time of the year. The Cape stays warm. Red leaves dominate the trees, the scrub oaks, which are everywhere. Tourists are gone for the most part. The weekends, though, will still be a bit busy through Columbus Day when the Cape closes up for the season.

This is also the tour bus season, and every bus is filled with senior citizens taking advantage of the off-season rates, the still open souvenir shops and the all you can eat restaurants. The buses pass me as they go down cape, and I can usually see the tour guide standing in front with microphone in hand. On Route 6A, I figure the guide is describing the captains’ houses and places like the Edward Gorey house. That is the prettiest road on the whole cape, and it extends from the bridge to Orleans. I usually take that road when I’m going down cape.

I need to buy some mums. I noticed they are blooming in my front garden, and I think I’ll add a couple of different colors. The mums always seem like the last gift of the season from my garden, the memory I’ll hold onto until spring.

I have a wonderful memory. I can see things as they are and how they used to be. I was giving directions to my friend and told her exactly how many lights she’d go through: seven of them. I just closed my eyes and saw the road and each light. I have the worst accent when it comes to languages, but I remember the vocabulary, even my high school French. I may mangle the sounds, but I get my point across.

Nothing tastes better than sweet, fresh fruit. Pineapple is my favorite, but the paw paw in Ghana I ate this trip moved up to a close second. I keep bananas around for a quick snack. I love them in my cereal. They even perk up corn flakes. Cold, crisp apples scream of fall, but it’s pumpkins which are fall’s best fruit. They stand out in every farm shop usually lined up in the front inviting us to stop. I always do.

 

“She calls it “stick season,” this slow disrobing of summer, leaf by leaf, till the bores of tall trees rattle and scrape in the wind.”

September 20, 2011

The day is cloudy with the possibility of rain. When I woke up, the house was only 62°, and I was darn cold. Obviously Fern and Gracie were too as both of them were leaning against me in bed. I warmed up the house so I can take a shower when I finish here, but it still feels damp and chilly.

Life has gone back to the mundane. I’ve started my daily list of chores and was busy yesterday with the trash, the litter and the dump. Today I have wash. Just over a week ago I was a world traveler. Today I am a washerwoman.

The time is close to shutting down the deck for the year. I’m already lamenting. It was my morning spot for coffee and the papers and my afternoon spot for my books and an occasional nap on the lounge. When the sun was shining, the breeze blowing and the leaves rustling there was no more pleasant place to be. Now I’m sitting here in the den wearing my winter slippers and a sweatshirt and seeing a dreary day through the window.

I am sorry at the close of summer but here on the cape fall is the nicest time of the year. The tourists are gone except for those on buses as this is the bus tour season. The riders are always old, at least far older than I. The women walk together as do the men. They are the generation that sat the women in the back seat when couples went out to dinner so manly talk could be made up front.

Because we barely have a spring, we are rewarded with a long autumn with cool but beautifully sunny days: today, of course, being an exception. I love taking long rides down cape this time of year. The leaves are mostly red but they are striking. The farm stands are filled with mums and gourds and apples. I always stop. I can’t resist.