Down T'Home

The last pickings

By Marion Tucker-Honeycutt | Oct 03, 2018

Summer’s winding down into fall. Each day there’s more red trees and nip in the air.

Any night now, a frost will bite most of what’s left in the gardens. About the only vegetables that will escape it will be parsnips and Brussels sprouts.

Between our farmers’ markets and my son’s garden, I’ve been gorging on vegetable suppers this week.

Yesterday, I made a drive to my favorite pond in the whole country, Knights Pond. We’ve been blessed with an unusually warm September and it looks to be relatively pleasant for the start of October, but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to capture one of the last warm days at “my” pond.

There aren’t many ponds, other than some remote ones up north, where you can sit and look out across the water and the forested hills and see no sign of man. What you see is what the first settlers saw, what countless generations of Native Americans before them saw, unspoiled nature.

It reminds me of a line from one of Edna St, Vincent Millay’s poems, upon coming back to Maine after too long away. “I breathed my soul back into me.”

On the way home from the pond, I stopped at my son’s place and raided his garden. I found string beans that hadn’t grown too fat yet, hiding under their leaves. I pulled rainbow chard and onions. I grabbed a couple potatoes.

Once in the door at home, I grabbed a stock pot, filled it and put it on the stove. I grabbed an ear of corn from the ’fridge, shucked it and snapped the beans. As soon as the water boiled, I plopped them both in. When done and strained, I put them on a plate — these deserve my old white ironstone dishes — slathered with butter, salted and peppered as called for and sat down with a big glass of local cider. Some wicked good.

This morning, I sautéed some of the onion, added fresh local garlic with mushrooms, and had them with eggs from the farm down the road and a coupla slices of fried Spam.

Spam is not like hot dogs and baloney, made up of scraps and bits and things unmentionable. Spam is made from good cuts of pork: the shoulder and “pork butt.” I really like it. So does my dog. I whipped up a raw egg with some turmeric and a few nuggets of spam and he slurps it up as if it were filet mignon.

For supper tonight, I sliced some market carrots, snapped the last of the string beans and cut the chard into 4-inch lengths. Putting the carrots into the hot water first, I let them cook for a few minutes, then added the string beans and the thicker stems of the chard. After a few more minutes, I added the leafy ends of the chard.

When done, I stained the mixed vegetables and put them in a wide ironstone soup bowl on top of some butter pats, drenched them with cider vinegar and salt and pepper and, with a glass of cider, had another delectable meal that you can’t find in a county restaurant. And the price was right.

Tomorrow, I must get out and cut the last of my comfrey before Jack Frost gets to it. I’ll cut it up and get it steeping in oil. Most people use olive oil, but I don’t because olive oil goes rancid too soon. I like to use liquid coconut oil, which keeps fresh forever.

After about six weeks, I can strain it and bottle some as is. Well, I do add a little vitamin E, as it acts as a preserver. I heat the rest a bit and add a little melted beeswax to make a salve.

Comfrey is also referred to as “knit bone.” It lives up to its name admirably. My family has long used it, on both serious bone injuries and fractures. I’ve had more than one doctor reluctantly admit that he’s amazed at how it heals.

Back to our end-of-the-season gardens. I don’t know the reason for Abraham Lincoln's designation of Thanksgiving in late November. It may be one his few, maybe only, unwise decisions.

The Pilgrims’ First Thanksgiving was at the end of harvest to give thanks to God for their bounty that would see them through the winter. They celebrated with their Indian friends who added to the three-day celebration of games and feasting by supplying five deer.

I’d like to propose we switch Thanksgiving back where it belongs — around this time of year. There are several benefits to this. We could use our fresh, local foods; we could set up tables outside and, with the extra outside room, more of the family groups could celebrate together; the kids could play outside; it wouldn’t be mixed up with Christmas and Santa coming in the annual Thanksgiving Day parade; the travel wouldn’t be hindered with snow, ice, or cancelled flights.

Who’s with me?

Marion Tucker-Honeycutt, an award-winning columnist, a Maine native and graduate of Belfast schools, now lives in Morrill. Her columns appear in this paper every other week.

 

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.