Most of us have ugly memories of persimmons when a mean pal or sibling thought it would be funny to entice us to eat an unripe persimmon. That memory really never fades, but for those of us who survived and had the courage to try one that was "guaranteed to be ripe" we have arrived on the other side and are huge fans of the last fruit of the summer, well, around here, anyway.
When I was in California, I was introduced to the persimmons grown there which are easily the size of baseballs. You may have even seen them in the "exotic" section of the fruit aisle at the grocery. Fuji Persimmons. At any rate, I loved them! But when I returned to this part of the country, the only persimmons available to me in the wild were the native persimmons which yielded fruit the size of a ping pong ball in a good year. And they are full of huge seeds. They taste wonderful, but they are hard to cook with. Besides that, I had to clothe myself in camo with grease paint and skunk scent, crawl along the edge of the woods, snatch and grab the ripe ones before the wildlife got them all. Not a pretty sight. Not at all.
I received a catalog about 3 years ago from Jung Seeds. In the back were fruit trees. Lo and behold, there was a persimmon tree that yielded two to three inch fruits with small seeds. The variety of this tree is called "Nikita's Gift," a cross from Russia between a native, cold tolerant persimmon and the asian 'Fuji' persimmon that I was familiar with from California. Hesitant to spend $30 or $40 for one of these trees, I finally gave in and got a couple of them. I now see the prices are much higher than that, now. Whew! I'll be babying these gems, for sure! We had a very cold winter. I didn't protect the trees from the cold, but when I planted them, contrary to the "rules" I added some of our WPR-Compost to the hole because our hill is nothing but gravel and clay.
This year I got a bumper crop of these lovelies. I pruned off the little ones in the spring, leaving 1 fruit for every 4 or 5 inches. Unable to wait until they were completely ripe on the tree, I plucked 5 or 6 that were still firm, before our first freeze (Oct 22). I put them into the freezer for two days. Took them out and let them thaw on the kitchen counter. They were delicious. I picked a full bushel of them 4 days ago which are all ripe and ready since we've had a couple of good freezes on them.
This is how I process them: Core each fruit like you would a tomato. With a little bit of water (16 ounces for a 74 ounce Ninja blender container) I add about 10-12 of them and puree for about 10 seconds on medium speed, until they are all liquified.
Here are a couple of good recipes I've tried thus far:
Basic Persimmon Pie --A very, very, low -to- no added refined sugar pie.
Blend all the ingredients and pour into the pie crust. Bake at 325 for about 20 minutes. Let cool to serve. Can top with more cream cheese, marshmallow cream, cool whip, or whipped cream.
Persimmon Cookies--again, low sugar. These are very soft cookies.
Blend all the moist ingredients then add dry ingredients, then the nuts and craisins. Blend until all moistened. Spoon out onto well-greased cookie sheets. Bake for 15 min in 350 degree F. oven.
Options: Canned pumpkin works well in place of persimmon.
It is late summer here at the WP Ranch, and the apples are ripe in the orchard. My favorite Cake recipe uses fresh apples. I think you will really enjoy this yummy dessert appropriate for any time of the year, but super nice during Autumn Harvest. I also thought I'd share a picture of the original recipe card right out of my childhood--1970's!
This is only as hot as the jalapeños you use. There is conflicting information about how to tell if your jalapeño is a hot one (besides shoving it in your mouth). I learned from a Mexican friend, that if the skin is marked with small striations, it is a hot one. Of course, others point to the seeds, as to what makes it a hot jalapeño. In the picture below, the pepper on the left is striated, while the one on the right is not, or is very slightly. Both of these turned out to be painfully hot, so, as a gardener, I have come to the conclusion it is the soil (pH, etc.) and amount of water that dictates the heat. Here's my recipe:
8 baseball size Green Tomatoes or Tomatillos, washed and dehusked
4 Jalapeños (shoot for ratio of 4 tomatoes/tomatillos to one jalapeño)
1 baseball size white onion
1 t salt
1T minced garlic
1/2 c chicken broth (or 1/2 c water and 1 chicken bouillon cube)
Roast tomatoes/tomatillos and jalapeños whole in a dry, cast iron skillet or over an open flame until the skins of the jalapeños are lightly charred, and the tomatoes/tomatillos have turned a light yellow, or seem a little mushy--about 15 minutes longer than the peppers. Turn frequently with tongs.
Place all of ingredients in a blender and blend on high until liquified. Adjust salt if necessary, or add more onion if you like a lot of onion flavor.
That's it. To cool the burn, drink milk or add a little Hellmann's Mayonesa with Límones.
It has been a wonderful spring to grow everything from lettuce, to fruit, brambles, strawberries, grass, and weeds. But it is the weeds I want to talk about right now. Everyone complains about the weeds. A weed is nothing more than a plant that is someplace we don't want it to be. In my garden, the area which I've set aside specifically to grow vegetables, I work hard to keep "weeds" out, chiefly because they will compete with the deliberately sown plants for light, food and water. Secondarily, I figure those "weeds" are survivalists and have the rest of the 205.5 acres on which to grow. "Stay out of my garden poke, lambsquarter, and dandelion!" I command to an audience that snubs their lush, green leaves at me.
The last few years, I've decided not to fight anymore battles I can't win. One of those is the battle of the weeds. This strategy will not likely rid my world of weeds, but it will save my limited physical energy, save money at the grocery check-out, and will save money on seeds for things like spinach, turnip greens, chard, kale, and so forth. Following is a very brief lesson on each weed and how to harvest and prepare them from my experience.
LAMBSQUARTER. Best to harvest leaves and small stems when young, early in the spring. Later in the spring just harvest the leaves. Wash then braise, stir-fry, or steam leaves and tender stems for no more than 4-5 minutes. I like to throw them into Pad-Thai at the very end where they basically just get warmed through. They can be used in any dish that calls for spinach, kale, chard, or turnip greens.
POKE. There is a lot of scary warnings about poke. So many people say, "Ohh! I won't even mess with that!" But, it is soooo simple to work with! Here's all you do: pick only leaves that are 6" and under. Throw them into a pot of boiling water and boil for 5 minutes. Take them out of that water and transfer into another pot of boiling water. Boil another 5 minutes, drain, and they are ready to eat or use in a recipe. At this point, I have let the leaves cool and put them into freezer bags and put them into the freezer for a nice winter's meal. Poke can be used in any recipe that calls for greens. I've even thrown them into spaghetti sauce for added nutrients.
PURSLANE. Pick, wash, and this prolific spreader is good raw in a salad, or lightly cooked in any of the above dishes I've mentioned. Wonderful in Mexican dishes for added nutrients. Throw a handful in with a pot of beans or rice.
EASTERN PRICKLY PEAR CACTUS. (Aka Nopal) It takes some care and preparation for this goodie, but for authentic Mexican dishes you've got to have it. Pick a paddle and char the outside it in a dry cast iron skillet. With tongs, scrape off the needles and charred outer skin. Then slice the soft insides and stir fry or add to rice and beans. Quite nutritious!
We have a jumble of "weeds" here. A mature dandelion on the left mixed in with some lambsquarter. In the middle is oxalis which has sour leaves and banana shaped fruits. On the right is common, white clover. Dandelion: pick leaves and flowers early in the spring. Both can be used lightly cooked or raw in a salad. Oxalis: use it sparingly to add tartness to salads. Clover: use the flowers in a salad, sparingly--they add just a touch of sweetness. However, the best use for clover is for our honeybees! We need to preserve our pollinators.
POPPY SEEDS. Lastly, and I know that poppies are cultivated, but mine reseed themselves every year and come up like weedy cousins. I harvest the seeds when the pods dry--in late July or early August here. Then I use these in baking breads, rolls, muffins, cookies. I also blend a spoonful into homemade dressings. Contrary to urban legend, you can't get high on casual use of poppy seeds.
Well, that about sums up our botanical lesson for the day. Save your energy--Eat your weeds!
For the first time in probably 25 years, I got the hankering for a grilled cheese sandwich with Velveeta cheese. The kind we had growing up. Then I heard on the news the other night that, "Oh MY! There is nationwide shortage of Velveeta Cheese!" Wouldn't you just know it? The first time I want to buy the stuff and some nincompoop has created a shortage. What next? Another coffee shortage? Chocolate? Sugar? Peanut butter? Well, it's like being thirsty. You're not, until you're aware you don't have any water. Alice: I KNOW what you're going to say--"I remember the peanut butter shortage....I caught Dianna with 4 pounds of the stuff in her cart that week." Ha ha ha. Filed under Hoarding.
I couldn't wait to get out of the house this morning and over to the Evil Kingdom where, surely, I can find some Velveeta Cheese. If they have some I'm going to get every last box on the shelf. If there IS a shortage, I can put it on eBay and double my money. I charge in there with my cart and race over to the fake cheese isle, ready to snatch the last 10 boxes of Velveeta left in Benton.
Whoa! What is that MASSIVE flatbed cart doing right in front of my prey, my "prrreeeecious" ? It is a stocker--not stalker--a stocker with at least 3000 boxes of Velveeta Cheese and she is loading up the empty shelf space. As I sheepishly grab my one box of Mexican Velveeta, watching my retirement dreams fizzle away like the fog on a sunny morning, I glance up and see, in the middle of the rows a HUGE display dedicated to nothing but fake cheese. American, Cheese Whiz, and Velveeta, Great Value Cheese Food. What the hell is Cheese Food?
I may be a little off-task today. Let me update you: Doug took care of his chickens this morning, brought up a load of firewood and stacked it. He left about an hour ago to see his Dad. I've cleaned out and organized my closet, done 4 loads of laundry, let some of the dogs and cats inside then let them back out, and then let a couple more inside. I've got my clothes picked out and packed for my trip to Fresno next week. It is cloudy, cold, and flurrying today. I plan to post a few more patterns for sale over the next few hours, which I shall begin just as soon as I get back from the mailbox and letting my chickens out....
Yes, supper tonight is grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato-basil soup (homemade, not from a can!) If you want the soup recipe just send me a comment and I'll write it down for you.
who are we?
We are avid seamstresses and crafters since the ORIGINAL 1970's, and we're still going strong. We're also yarn, fabric, and pattern hoarders. ("Speak for yourself," protests Alice.) We, ok, I haven't parted with my stash in over 40 years until now. Maybe we'll have something that you just can't live without! Enjoy browsing!
Click on box above to go to our Compost site for information on usage guidelines and how to purchase!
All photos and stories on this website are the property of Dianna Johnson unless otherwise indicated. Please don't copy them and call them your own. Plagiarism is not only really rude and mean, but it is against the law. I have made every effort to give credit to other artists when I have used their work, and would ask that you do the same if you use mine! Thanks.