Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Seasons

Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste teh fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each. – Henry David Thoreau

1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: 2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted - Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

I am afraid the summer is passing away quickly here. It's still hot, but the foods that are ripe in my garden are passing their prime. I have a peach tree. I remember exactly how old it is - my next-door neighbor found it sprouted in her compost pile the year I got married. She gave it to me as a housewarming gift for our new home. I planted it in a pot, and finally put it in the ground. It is now about 15 or 20 feet tall, five years later, and if not for the late frost last spring, now might be the exact season for the peaches. The year before, I had 5 blossoms, which turned into one fruit, which fell off the tree when it was about an inch in diameter - DH says it was a casualty of the June drop. This year, nothing! Not a blossom. I am hoping for peaches next year.

Waiting for the season to arrive, expectation of that first peach, the first tomato, the first melon, the first pea, the first leaf of lettuce - anticipation adds to the pleasure of the taste, and to the pride in the harvest. And when the season passes, there is a kind of sadness; that specific taste will be gone until next year, when the cycle begins again.

Peach Leaf Sourdough Starter:

1 quart fresh peach leaves, unpacked

3 cups water

3 baked potatoes, medium size

1/2 cup yellow corn meal

3 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons salt

Bring water to rolling boil and steep peach leaves in it for 15 minutes. Drain liquid and add enough water to make 3 full cups again. This will have a rather unappetizing green color but don't worry! It will disappear during the fermentation process. Peel hot baked potatoes and put through food mill or sieve. Scald 1/2 cup corn meal in 1 cup of the liquid until it reaches boiling point and thickens. Stir constantly so that it will not become lumpy. Now combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl (do not use metal or plastic). Cover with cheesecloth and set in warm place (about 30 to 85 degrees F.) until well fermented. In warm humid weather this will take about 24 hours. In cool dry weather a few more hours may be required for mixture to become active throughout. Stir every few hours during the process. When it is ready, pour into a large glass jar (2-quart glass pickle jar with porcelain-lined zinc lid will do). Store in refrigerator at about 38 degrees. If necessary stir down a time or two until it stops foaming. It is ready for use when about 1/2 inch of clear liquid has risen to the top. This will take about 2 days. Stir well each time before using. When this starter has been used down to about 1 cupful, add 3 cups water, 3 medium-size baked potatoes, 1/2 cup corn meal scalded in 1 cup of the water, 3 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons salt prepared as for the first time (peach leaves are not needed after the first time). Set in warm place until it becomes very active in about 6 to 8 hours. Store in refrigerator and it will be ready for use the next day. A properly renewed starter improves with age and, once one becomes accustomed to taking care of it, it all becomes automatic. When, for some reason, it cannot be used about twice a week stir it thoroughly every few days and add 1 teaspoon sugar. Each time it is renewed, empty the jar, wash and scald jar and lid before filling with the new mixture. - Recipe by Olga Drozd on recipelink.com



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