Sunday, July 17, 2016


My garden has peached me. I give. How can one little peach tree make so much fruit? Next year, I plan to skimp on the mango mulch and maybe take the fruit tree fertilizer down a notch. I love peaches, but I would like to eat something else now, please. Pass the hot sauce. (That gives me an idea for peach salsa.)

In her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver claims that the small rural community in which she lives has so little crime that residents rarely lock their cars. The only time of year when they routinely lock their cars is during July and August. They do this to prevent their neighbors from leaving zucchini squashes on their front seat as an anonymous gift. Country living. I can testify that keeping the car locked only partially works, because it does not prevent people from leaving zucchinis on the doorstep, ringing the bell, and running away. Or in the mailbox. Or on the porch swing. Or jammed into your handbag, back pocket, hat.

A couple of weeks ago, when planning a get-together with friends, I said I would bring zucchini because “I have a zucchini situation.” My home girl Jessica responded, “You planted more than one zucchini plant, didn’t you?” She’s right, but I can explain. Last year I planted two zucchini plants. One died and the other didn’t produce much. So this year I planted three (in case one died) and all of them are thriving, no slackers. Then, on top of that, a butternut squash that I bought was mislabeled by the grower and turned out to be a zucchini. So I have four prolific zucchini plants.

Despite the bumper crop, I have managed to stay on top of the zucchini by picking them when small, giving plenty of them away, and eating them in everything. Fortunately, zucchini is the most versatile vegetable on the planet. Take my word for it. I can find a way to put it into anything:  ratatouille, egg salad, coleslaw, fritters, butter, salsa, rice, pancakes, pasta, lemonade, ice cream; you name it, I can get a zucchini into it. I have tried just about everything except rolling it and smoking it. Zucchini is the chameleon of produce. But I am getting carried away, and I did not intend to wax poetic about the zucchini. It was not the zucchinis that created the need for an intervention this past week, but the yellow peaches. In fact, I don’t really want to talk about zucchini. They have hijacked this conversation. They take over if you let them. I really want to talk about peaches.

When one person in a country community has a bumper crop of peaches, chances are everyone does. That’s how it goes. If it’s a good year for peaches (or plums, or green beans, or sweet peppers, or whatever) then everyone has the same overabundance. I took an enormous bowl of sliced peaches to a brunch on Friday morning and put my bowl on the table next to two other bowls from other gardeners. It was a peach-off. I fared well. Mine got gobbled up. When houseguests arrived late Thursday night from out of town, they found a note I left on the countertop that read, “Take pity on me. Help yourself to peaches.” In the morning, I discovered, to my dismay, that my houseguests had brought a small bag of peaches to my house. That’s what people refer to as bringing sand to the beach. The guests said someone from around here gave them the peaches. How dare someone else get to them first? They were my houseguests. I had first dibs.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon picking, prepping, and preserving peaches (say that three times fast). I might actually now be down to a mere 30 lbs. of peaches, which does not include the peaches in the two peach crisps that I baked. Inspired by my creativity with zucchini, I am hatching creative recipes for peaches. Grilled peach sandwich. Peach loaf. Poached peach. I wonder if there is any beautification benefit to putting peach slices on one’s eyes. How about carving a peach-o-lantern for the front porch? I’m sure I could dry them in my food dehydrator. If they come out too dry, I can use them as bookmarks. I can always use more bookmarks. Too bad bookmarks don’t grow on trees.

Up next:  My garden is poised to produce a bumper crop of lemon cucumbers. How much do you want to bet I can come up with a viable recipe for cucumber pie?

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