Woodworking again: A fruitful harvest

By Dave Wood
Posted 11/1/22

WOODWORKING Again BY DAVE WOOD A fruitful harvest Come, ye thankful people, come Raise the song of harvest home; All is safely gathered in, Ere the winter storms begin. ~ Henry Alford [1844] …

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Woodworking again: A fruitful harvest


Come, ye thankful people, come Raise the song of harvest home; All is safely gathered in, Ere the winter storms begin.

~ Henry Alford [1844] All—except our parsnips, which repose sporting high fronds in a barrel next to the garden. We always wait to dig them until Spring after the thaw when they’re at their sweetest. Wouldn’t ya know it? The veggie we love best requires waiting the longest.

But we’re not complaining this year, for our garden has been its most fruitful since we first dug in its sandy loamless soil, probably because this year B.W. cheated and ordered tons of compost from a garden supply.

And thus it's difficult to close our freezer door and Ball jars threaten to tumble out of our pantry cupboard, the fruits and vegetables of B.W.’s labors and her talent for canning, which she learned from her mother Elsie Pirsig. When Elsie moved from her natal place in Blue Earth, Minn. to Chicago, her Cook County neighbors scratched their heads and finally learned that a Garden was not a store that sold pink flamingo decorations for tiny front yards, but a place where one could grow stuff that you eat. When Elsie was in her mid-80s, she dug her last potatoes, dried them, wiped them free of dust and passed on to the Big Asparagus Patch in the Sky.

But back to her daughter who has spent the majority of the summer slaving in the kitchen and now we have the pleasure of figuring out how to store the following against the certainty of snowfalls, sleet storms and nuclear attack: 17 jars of raspberry jam from the four raspberry bushes on the north side of our house.

Four pints of rhubarb chutney from the small patch on the northwest corner of our house, a reminder that the lamb curry season is almost upon us.

Four quarts of green tomato mincemeat from our garden proper, to be divided equally among B.W.'s relatives who ingest this stuu with enthusiasm, which I don’t understand.

Our freezer contains four ice-cube trays of basil pesto gleaned from the south side of our house amongst the herb garden. The pesto is made by combining a cup of olive oil, 10 cloves of garlic, four cups of basil leaves and one pound of Philadelphia Cream cheese, pulverized until smooth in a food processor, then frozen. The recent hail storm decimated the rest of our basil crop, so thank God for Cuisinart.

Several quarts of lightly pickled red beets, which were unusually fecund this year. No, I hate Harvard beets, which my mother liked to eat with pancakes, as the family looked on in horror. B.W. eats them the way the Lord intended. Chilled, with sprinkles of Feta cheese.

M-m-m-m good, as Del Sharbutt used to say about Campbell’s soups on the wireless.

Someone gave B.W. a big bag of slightly wormy apples. And she made delicious applesauce sans worms. She keeps it in little cups in the fridge, for me to grab and devour with a spoon when hunger overtakes me. Better plain than served with the modern-day, fat-free, tasteless pork loin, “the other white meat.”

We raised tomatillos for the first time this year because they’re so expensive in the store’s vegetable department. We have two bushes, both four feet high and LOADED with the little green, husk-covered spheroids.

I read in Marian Morash’s vegetable encyclopedia that they’re related to ground cherries, which my grandma would send me crawling through the rows in her garden. They had brown husks and the spheroids inside were faintly yellow. Grandma made sauce out of them because they suited her Scandinavian taste profile. (Meaning: tasteless and unbear ably sweet.) I plan to use their green cousins in a turkey chili that won a taste test at Emma’s bar years ago. The green cousins from south of the border turn out to be tart and tangy. A few weeks ago, we dined at Shady Grove where B.W. got her first taste of Grandma's ground cherries when her sword – fish steak was garnished with the little pale yellow buggers that Chef Shane had charred before serving. Not bad, and certainly better than Grandma's.

harvest, gardening, Dave Wood, opinion, column