another strawberry season

We are almost at the end of strawberry season here in upstate New York.

When I was growing up in rural New England, we always went strawberrying every spring and made lots of recipes with the fresh, flavorful berries. Back then, you only had access to fresh strawberries when they were available locally. Now you can buy them in the grocery store year-round grown somewhere far away, but we seldom buy them because they are never as good as local ones.

For many years, I picked my own from nearby farms, but now I buy them from the farmstands and embark on the annual strawberry binge.

This year, we had some of our old favorites – strawberry shortcake, fresh strawberry pie, strawberry-rhubarb pie, strawberry salad, strawberry sundaes, strawberries with yogurt, and strawberries on pancakes. We also tried some new recipes – strawberry spoon cake, strawberry-rhubarb muffins, fresh strawberry tarts, and strawberry bread pudding.

Wow! That looks like a lot when it is all written out.

I think it will tide us over until next spring, when I’m sure we’ll be ready to dive into strawberry season once again.

SoCS: snow

It’s been an odd fall/winter season here in upstate New York. We had a lot of snow in the second half of fall and then not much since.

Until yesterday.

We were originally in a 4-7 inch band but overnight got bumped into 6-12 inches. When the snow started, it came down fast, between one and two inches an hour. (Sorry that I can’t do all the centimeter conversions in stream of consciousness, but 1 inch is about 2 and a half centimeters.)

I wanted to shovel during the storm because it can be hard to move deep snow all at once at the end of the storm. I had ambitions to keep the driveway and walk relatively clear.

Well, as it turned out, ambitions, but not enough strength.

The snow was very heavy, the kind that packs really well but is a bear to shovel because it sticks to the shovel, making it difficult to throw onto the snowbank. If ABC were still living here, we would have had fun making snow-children with the sticky, packable snow. They don’t tend to get a lot of snow in London, though. Maybe I should have made a miniature snow family and sent her a photo. When E and T were young, we used to make smaller snow figures instead of Frosty the Snowman size ones. It was easier for little hands – and very cute besides!

Because it has not been a very snowy winter here, we don’t have much snowpack to speak of. That’s not much of a problem here because we tend to get adequate precipitation throughout the year. I know that some places need to depend on the snowpack for water in the spring and summer, though, so I hope those regions are getting plenty of snow.

When I was growing up, my dad, known here at TJCM as Paco, worked for New England Power in the hydro division. They had several reservoirs and hydroelectric stations along the upper Deerfield River. I remember Paco and his crew going up into the woods to measure the snowpack and how much water it was holding so that they could predict how the spring run-off would be. They wanted to be able to fill the reservoirs and control the flow in the river so that it didn’t flood – or, at least, didn’t flood too badly. In those days, with climate change impacts not as pronounced as they are now, they were able to predict things pretty well. Paco has been retired for a long time and doesn’t live in that area anymore, but I’m sure his successors have a more challenging time assessing run-off from their snowpack measures.

Everything is so much more unpredictable nowadays.

In a lot of ways, but that would be another (several) posts…,
*****
Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “(un)pack.”  Join us! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2020/02/07/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-feb-8-2020/

SoCS: sap

I have lived in the Northeast United States for my whole life and soon my thoughts will turn to sap.

Maple trees are plentiful here and are often used for maple syrup production. The sap flows in the spring and is tapped, usually now with lines rather than with spigots and covered buckets as it was done traditionally.

At least, it used to be done in spring when I was a child. What you need for a good flow of sap is days above freezing and nights below freezing. This used to be early spring weather, but now, with climate change and increased volatility of weather, those conditions sometimes happen as early as February.

February is not spring.

Some years, the sap starts to flow in February, but then it gets colder again and stops. If we are lucky, it stops before the trees actually start to bud as the cold weather can then damage the buds and affect the tree for the year.

When I was a child, we used to go to a local sugarhouse during sugaring off and watch as they evaporated the water out of the sap to leave maple syrup. I always liked the lighter, more delicate syrup. The sugarhouse had an attached dining room where you could order great pancakes and waffles, which were served with fresh syrup. Then, my sisters and I would order sugar-on-snow for dessert. They would bring us cake tins full of snow and a pitcher of warm maple syrup. We would drizzle it over the snow and it would instantly congeal into a candy which you could pick up with a fork. You could sometimes even twirl it around the fork like spaghetti. It was delicious, but super sweet, so they would serve it with homemade dill pickles, which were also really good.

It has been many years since I had sugar on snow, but I always keep a supply of real maple syrup at home. I refuse to eat “pancake syrup” which is usually just corn syrup with some maple flavoring thrown in.

In my area now, I usually buy maple syrup from a farmers’ market rather than directly from a sugar house. When I go back to Massachusetts or Vermont, I will sometimes buy syrup there to bring home. Right now, I have a gallon that was made in B’s hometown and about twelve miles from my hometown.

It’s all good.

I do worry, though, about the future of our sugar maples. They are stressed by climate change and the range of the trees is moving north. In the coming decades, we may need to import our maple syrup from Canada. I’m sure it would be as delicious, but probably in short supply, which would be very sad.

I’ll savor my maple syrup all the more now.
*****
Join us for Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday and/or Just Jot It January! This week’s prompt was sap/sep/sip/sop/sup. Today’s pingback link is here: https://lindaghill.com/2019/01/04/the-friday-reminder-for-socs-jusjojan-2019-daily-prompt-jan-5th/
More information and prompts here: https://lindaghill.com/2018/12/31/what-is-just-jot-it-january-2019-rules/

Patriots never quit

Although I am not really a football fan, our family watched the Super Bowl last night. As a native of New England, I was hoping for a Patriots win.

It didn’t look good for a long while, as the Falcons took a commanding lead, larger than any that had ever been overcome in Super Bowl history.

But the Patriots fought back to tie the game in the final seconds of regulation play and scored a touchdown in the first drive of overtime to win their fifth Super Bowl under current ownership, coach, and quarterback.

I woke up this morning thinking that patriots always fight back.

They do not quit.

And, eventually, despite the odds against them, they prevail.

It gives me hope that, despite the attempts of DT’s administration to dismantle or side-step our Constitutional rights, the balance of power among the three branches of government, and checks and balance, we patriots of 2017 will prevail, as have patriots since 1776.

And the reigning Super Bowl champions.

 

National Indian Pudding Day 2015

November 13th is National Indian Pudding Day! In keeping with a Top of JC’s Mind tradition, here is an Indian pudding themed poem for you. Enjoy!

Indian Pudding
          by Joanne Corey

It’s simple –
          an old family recipe
          milk
          cornmeal
          tapioca
          molasses
          sugar
          a bit of salt
          butter the size of an egg
          Two hours in a 300 degree oven.

But the sweetness brings memories
of Great-Aunt Gert
and Thanksgiving
and generations of frugal New Englanders
making do with what they had
to fill children’s bellies with warmth.

Indian Pudding

Aunt Gert’s recipe can be found here: https://topofjcsmind.wordpress.com/2015/10/13/indian-pudding-recipe/

Poem: Making Aunt Gert’s Indian Pudding

I am very pleased to announce that I have another poem published today!  The blog of Silver Birch Press has published “Making Aunt Gert’s Indian Pudding” as part of their “My Sweet Word” series. You can find it here: https://silverbirchpress.wordpress.com/2015/10/12/making-aunt-gerts-indian-pudding-poem-by-joanne-corey-my-sweet-word-series/

Enjoy!

Update:  The recipe is now available here:  https://topofjcsmind.wordpress.com/2015/10/13/indian-pudding-recipe/

Indian Pudding for Thanksgiving

National Indian Pudding Day was November 13. NPR did a piece about it:  http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/11/13/244983031/its-national-indian-pudding-day-heres-why-you-should-celebrate.

I had not previously realized that there was such a thing as a National Day for this purpose, but, as a New England native, I was certainly a fan of Indian pudding. We make a recipe that came to us from my husband’s Great-Aunt Gert. We aren’t sure from whom she received the recipe, but we know it is an old one.

I made it earlier this fall when I went out to visit my college roommate and her husband in Colorado. They had never had it before but enjoyed it. Today, we made a batch to have as part of our Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. We like to make it the day before serving, as the molasses flavor intensifies after it has set for a day in the refrigerator and is then re-heated to serve with vanilla ice cream. Besides, given that the pudding needs to bake for two hours, it is impractical to do it along with the turkey, dressing, baked squash with apple, and onions that also are vying for oven space.

Here is (at least the first draft of) my poem in honor of Indian Pudding:

Making Aunt Gert’s Indian Pudding

The recipe calls for butter the size of an egg,
Conjuring the image of scooping butter
From the crock in the creamery,
Instead of slicing a few tablespoons
From a stick of Land ‘o Lakes.

Simple and New-England-frugal,
no spices are required,
That expense unnecessary
Due to the wonders of molasses,
Slow-baked and intensified.

The summer corn
Stored as meal and
The fresh milk from the cows
Meld to warm us in the chill of Thanksgiving,
Honoring our New England roots.