Friday, October 8, 2010

Season Of Plenty

The land and sea have been generous; cranberries were picked in the dunes, pears were gathered roadside, bluefish were caught and smoked, the NZ'er caught a big striper surfcasting down at the Point, we have been harvesting bowls of big beef tomatoes and there's no shortage of herbs especially sage which I was able to supply to a friend with a restaurant who needed it desperately for her gnocchi.  

There have been some surprises in my garden; in the Spring I divided one sanguisorba and rather haphazardly planted it in various locations, now in October the garden is dotted with the beautiful droplets of blood-red flowers. A pale lemon pineland hibiscus with a deep burgundy center volunteered itself in my herb garden, what a special treat to discover it growing between the shiso. The Rosa glauca (love those hips) appeared after a two year absence, in a different spot. The lemon verbena is positively tree-like and I have been making tea with its deeply fragrant leaves. The toad lily (tricyrtis hirta) has been blooming for months it seems, as has the erigeron in the cracks of the stone path, but the longest bloomer in the garden has been the gaura, I love this little gem of a plant, it gently waves its fairy wand in the cooling Montauk breeze and mischievously continues to twinkle as others are fading and leaves are falling. As dusk approaches the tiny flowers magically light up the garden, I desire a meadow of it.

A friend told me about a pear tree in a Montauk garden, it sits on the edge of the property and right now the pears are falling, they conveniently fall on to the footpath (and not so conveniently on the road) the owners of the tree do not seem too concerned about harvesting the fruit, I hate to see good fruit go to waste or even worse become fruity roadkill on route 27, so I took a bucket and got me a hefty load of local pears.

Pear and Cranberry Chutney
Pears from Montauk - Cranberries from Napeague

about a cup of cranberries
4 pears peeled and chopped 
grated fresh ginger (I used about a 1/4 cup)
1 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
my choice of spices - a pinch or two of ground star anise and a pinch of five spice powder, you can use cinnamon or cloves, for a more traditional taste.

Put everything in a large saucepan, bring to boil then reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes, or until pears and cranberries are soft.

You must not know too much or be too precise or scientific about birds and trees and flowers and watercraft; a certain free-margin, and even vagueness - ignorance, credulity - helps your enjoyment of these things.
Walt Whitman

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