A couple of days ago, my sons came in with oranges picked from the neighbor’s tree that hangs over our back fence.
One of them decided to juice them, and fueled by that small success, they decided to go pick some grapefruits from Sharlee’s tree and a huge lemon from Marianne’s to add to the pitcher. Our kind neighbors have given us permission to glean from their citrus trees whenever we want. (Micah took the picture of Ben climbing a grapefruit tree at left.)
The boys made a citrus juice cocktail of sorts. Micah used our electric citrus juicer to extract the juice, added water and little sugar, and voila – a tasty beverage to serve with dinner and a fun memory of being resourceful!
For me, the tang of the juice also brings a pang as I remember that when we moved to our house, we had three fruitful orange trees of our own. Unfortunately, we didn’t do the proper research in how to care for them, and after several years they had to be removed. I still feel the loss. We used to pick dozens of oranges at a time to juice, eat, or give away. One year, we picked about a hundred, washed them, decorated them with Christmas rubber stamps, and delivered them to a homeless mission downtown. Well, we may have lost the trees, but we haven’t lost our community. It’s so sweet that our neighbors will share with us. And we still try to share what we have, too. My daughter Julia has been organizing an extra collection drive for when she goes down to Lake Eola with a local organization to help feed the homeless this weekend. Since she’s going down anyway, she’s gathering blankets, sleeping bags, jackets, other clothing, toiletries and food items. Many of our friends are pitching in. One even brought a bag of oranges! What a memory that brings back! Maybe the experience of preparing oranges for the shelter so many years ago made a deeper impression than I thought.
Food evokes powerful memories for most of us. Many of my happy childhood recollections are about fruit.
When we lived in San Carlos, California in the 1970’s, we had thick blackberry bushes brambling up our back fence. We had to wear long sleeves when we ventured in to harvest the juicy fruit because the vines were so prickly. I remember making fruit leather with the berries, as well as with the plums from the tree next to our front sidewalk. Mom would puree the fruit with sugar, and then we would spread it on wax paper on a cookie sheet, cover it with cheese cloth to keep the bugs out, and set it out on the back patio in the sun to dry. Now we just buy it in a box at the store, but nothing compares to the homemade version. You can find out how to make it here: http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_make_fruit_leather/. Eventually, we pulled down the blackberry vines to make more room for a flower and vegetable garden.
When I was a teenager, we moved to Baltimore and had grape vines hanging off our deck. One year, Mom and Dad made a big jug of wine from it, but I didn’t try more than a sip. I never did develop a taste for wine or any other alcohol. Maybe that’s because I still remember accidentally taking a sip of beer once when I thought I was picking up my soda glass from a restaurant table. Blech! I can’t stand that taste! Oh, now that brings back another “orange juice” memory. It was around Eastertime when I reached into the fridge for the orange juice pitcher, poured a bit and took a swig. Yuck! It was liquefied egg! We used to dye Easter eggs by poking a little hole with a needle in each end, then blowing really hard through one end so the egg would stream out the other end. Then we had hollow eggs and could keep the dyed eggs as long as we wished. Dad didn’t want to waste the egg innards, hence the pitcher. Things aren’t always what they seem. I’m always very careful what I drink. I never know what I’ll find in a pitcher in my fridge! (Oh, one more memory of when one of the boys tried making fresh limeade a few years ago! I confess, it was my fault what happened next, but at least we got an apple-cherry cake out of the deal! You can read that story, along with a few other humorous ones, right here: Mommy Brain!)
Hmmm. I’ve got to get back to the sweet tasting stuff again!
Another vivid memory from our San Carlos days is that we sometimes drove up to “the City” (San Francisco) and dined at the Cliff House, a restaurant overlooking a spectacular view of the bay. I always ordered their fruit plate for my main course. It was a huge platter of lovely fruits cut up into fancy shapes. It reminds me of the fruit bouquet, pictured at left, that someone ordered from http://www.ediblearrangments.com/ for my daughter Mary’s bridal shower years ago. I also thought of that yesterday when my mom and niece were about to arrive from Maryland. I know my mom likes fruit salad and often serves it when we visit her, so I decided to make a big one for dinner, to go along with our baked potato buffet and turkey scrapple. I bought bananas, watermelon, canteloupe, star fruit, mango, grapes, a pineapple, and a frozen bag of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries to add to the usual apples and oranges we had at home. We all worked together to prepare our fruity feast, serving some of it in hollowed out watermelon and cantelope rinds. That’s my beautiful mother, Mary, on the right, and my cutie daughter Naomi on the left.
When my children were much younger and we were visiting Grandma in Maryland, she and my sister Barb would take us out to pick strawberries or apples, depending on whether our trip was in spring or autumn. We also tried growing strawberries in the front yard. One year, several new plants started from the runners, but we never had much success on subsequent years. In 2008, my daughter Joanna went strawberry picking with friends here in Florida and brought home 6 quarts. We made almost 10 pints of freezer jam with some of it. You can read about that here: We’re Jamming with the Berries.
Now Joanna, 18, and her older sister Rachel, nearly 20, are preparing to go to Italy for three months on a mission trip. They’ve been hosting fundraising dinners at our home. At the first one, they served a purchased cheesecake for dessert, but this last time they made raspberry cookies. (Picture at left is from http://www.allrecipes.com/,) They were just as yummy and not as fattening or expensive, so I think it was a very fruitful switch! They are making them again for the final dinner tomorrow night. The cookies were “easier than pie” to make. Rachel bought some sugar cookie mix and prepared the dough according to the directions. Then she formed small balls on the cookie sheet and made an indentation in each one. She spooned a nice dab of raspberry preserves in the middle of each one and baked! Besides being delicioso, they were really festive. Another memory made, because now I’ll think of their Italy trip every time I taste raspberries!
I could go on and on about fruit memories, but instead, I’ll just direct you to my stories and recipes for pineapple pie, cranberry sauce, wassail, orange sesame chicken, and ginger apricot chicken ~ part of creating our own family heritage! They’re all listed on my recipe page!
P.S. Oh, you know me! I can’t resist relating everything my life to the beautiful grace and truth I find in the Bible. Here goes!
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Against such things there is no law.”
“Sow for yourselves righteousness,
reap the fruit of unfailing love,
and break up your unplowed ground;
for it is time to seek the LORD,
until he comes and showers righteousness on you.”
“The fruit of righteousness will be peace;
the effect of righteousness will be
quietness and confidence forever.”
“I am the vine; you are the branches.
If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit;
apart from me you can do nothing.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.
This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit,
showing yourselves to be my disciples.”