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by David S. Warren

By the time of the American Revolution, much of what is now the state of Connecticut was already running out of land on which to grow wheat that was shipped to the Caribbean, returning with sugar or molasses to make rum.

And most of the Connecticut wheat land was already impoverished from many years of plowing and reaping without fertilization. Some wheat farmers went further up the Hudson to homestead, clearing land, burning the trees down to potash, and selling the potash to farmsteads a ways back down the river. By the end of the war, the Northeast was effectively cleared of Indians, and soon after that, the Erie Canal greatly extended the reach of upriver travel and settlement.

Many homesteaders moved up to our Finger Lakes area then, including the Morgan family who came all the way from Conneticuit to homestead a five hundred acre hill plot, where we live on the five-acre central remnant. They came by oxcart, intending like many others who came here, to grow wheat for export. We still have the annual wheat harvest festival locally; there are some oat fields and plenty of corn and hay, but this hilly region is not meant to be a global bread basket.

The glacier-scraped brow of our own particular hill has only a thin layer of soil clogged with clay: poorly drained, but with insufficient water for a pasture and dairy operation, even back when a dairy farm was only forty cows. Over the years and through the twentieth century, various other farming has been attempted on the hill which now has few acres of corn, a few of pasture, a few of hay meadow, but, most appropriately on the lake side of the hill: second growth woodland, vineyards and orchards.

Thanks to French Jesuit missionaries who always traveled with their gardens, the Cayuga Indian village on the lake just north and down the hill from here had orchards of peach, pear, and apple trees - none of which are native in the New World. But when the Indians sided with the British during the American revolution, Washington had directed his soldiers to burn the native villages and cut down their orchards.

Pear trees, however, survive extremes better than most other fruit trees, including the extreme of being cut down. They will shoot up from the roots and stumps; they will creep across fields and climb hills. The succeeding generations re-develop the thorns that protect them from deer and rodents, but had been lost in domestication.

The Dog’s Plot acres have not been plowed in forty-some years now, and not brush-hogged in the last twenty. The plowed acres have gone to brambles, dog-roses, honeysuckle and brushy buckthorn, with trees poking up through..

When new here, I read that our thin, poorly-drained, clay soil would be tolerated by asparagus and pear trees. I planted a few beds of asparagus and a dozen or so pear trees. After a couple more years, some more reading and walking around Dog’s Plot, I realized that the thorny trees coming up among and over the invasive buckthorn out back, were not wild apple, but rather pear trees. Some pears in the hedge-row have trunks big around as me, and scattered among the buckthorn and Juniper in our more open areas, hundreds of sapling pears.
And from the highway you can see (if maybe not notice) the flowering pear trees that troop along the edges of the state forest like white elephants. Those trees usually produce a crop of small round fruits that you might take for apples, even if you were to bite into one, and you probably wouldn’t be tempted. As happens when cultivated fruits go to seed and have free sex, the naturalizing pears had reverted to a primitive form more like that of pears on the Asian mountain divide before they split and went to the East as a round fruit, and to Europe to bear what Europeans and Americans think of as “pear-shaped” fruit.

Well then; after that revelation I went to the internet, to books, and to agricultural extension services (thank you Cornell and Michigan) from which I learned about fruit-sex and cloning: for instance, that Golden Delicious apple trees, Bartlett Pears, and so on, do not grow from the seeds resulting from free-range tree-sex. What you get then are all individual bastards with varying characteristics. A Bartlett pear tree (at least the rooted section) is a clone made by grafting a first year shoot from a cultivated species onto another stock, such as the naturalized - locally evolved trees volunteering on Dogs Plot.

In the last ten or fifteen springs I have grafted European and Asian pear scions onto over two hundred naturally occurring trees on these five acres. Some years very few grafts succeeded; in some years the successfully grafted trees barely grew. In others years some trees shot up two or three feet. Often, I have stood, staring, sure I could see them grow.

And now, we have so many mature trees under cultivation that we can no longer prune them all, nor thin and harvest all the pears.

Rather than just leaving the fallen pears for the deer to stomp into slush that ferments and makes them silly enough to chase the chickens around, we decided to make our own Pear Cider, Pear Wine, Perry, and maybe Pearjack.

We got an old cider press missing it’s pressure plate, for which I made a rough replacement. It was too late to use our own pears that season, so we bought two bags of apples from Aldi’s, mashed them in a spackle bucket with a sledge hammer as a plunger, and managed to squeeze out a gallon or so of cider in the old press before the press plate broke.





So we bought a fruit crusher and new, larger press to use on our pears when they ripened last summer: a mixture of sweet and tart, mostly Asian pears. Some of the cider was consumed when still fresh and sweet, and most is now in the later stages of fermentation.

Meanwhile we had realized that a cider press is about the same thing as a cheese press. Being big cheese eaters,we ordered the basic tools, the coagulants and the fermentation cultures to make most any cheese.

Of course cheese making doesn’t always require a press, or need to be a lot more complicated than letting raw milk go sour. I heard on the radio that in prison, where improvisation is necessary, determined cheese-addicts use Real Lemon concentrated juice to coagulate non-dairy creamer. And there it is: easy cheesy.

We have now read so many recipes for cheese making that we are dazed and confused or maybe confused and dazed. The biggest cheesiest site on the internet has hundreds a recipes - new ones all the time, including some for mozzarella, one of which claims to be an easy thirty minute mozzarella, perfect for kids.

Don’t be fooled. The thirty minute mozzarella took a day and a half; we nearly scalded our hands in the process and never got the stuff to be stretchy as pizza dough, like it is supposed to be. So we don’t suggest you make it your first cheese.

You might want to begin with the prison cheese version, or better than that: try making the simple Portuguese kitchen cheese that Nancy Vieira Couto writes about in this issue of the magazine.


Olive and David

David S. Warren
is co-editor of Metaphysical Times, is the author of
Dog's Plot – The Book of William. He has as well published:
The World According to Two Feathers and Natural Bone,
both of which were published many years ago
and both of which are getting new stories
and radical revisions.
"The life and Diet of Jim Worms"
is a new piece of Natural Bone.



Writing by David S. Warren and by other
authors previously published in the
Metaphysical Times can be found in the
Stories, Essays and Poems at:
MetaphysicalTimes.com
(Visit David Warren's Article Archive)


 


 

IN THIS ISSUE

• THE EDITORS
Gluttony and Food Issues

• DAVEY WEATHERCOCK
(Guest editor) All You Need

• PETE WETHERBEE Introduction to and translation of: The Pardoner On Gluttony
by Geoffrey Chaucer


• SUE-RYN BURNS
Possum Food

• MARK FINN
Desert Island Dining

• JOHN IRVING
The Half Pound Piece of Toast

• DAVID S. WARREN
The Life and Diet of Jim Worms

• FRANKLIN CRAWFORD
My Father the Clamcake

• RHIAN ELLIS
Blood on the Dining Room Floor

• GEORGIA E. WARREN
Little Round Things


• GABRIEL ORGREASE
Dull Ny Thinger

• NANCY VIEIRA COUTO
Eating With the Ancestors
– Curds and Whey


• DON BRENNAN
Grace

•ANNIE CAMPBELL Sugaraholic

• DAVID S. WARREN
Where Food Goes

POETRY
• FRANKLIN CRAWFORD
Helium Dogs

___________________




by Annie Campbell

I’d always had a sweet tooth, but about twenty-six years ago I suddenly developed absolutely insane cravings for desserts. I’d mix double batches of chocolate-chip cookie dough and eat half the batter raw. Then, I’d eat a bunch of mouth-singeing cookies minutes after taking them out of the oven. Harley was lucky if there were a few cookies left for him.

When I went grocery shopping in Wegmans, I’d fill a small bag with cookies and chocolates from the bulk food section, pay for my groceries and devour everything in the bag before I got home. Sometimes I managed to resist and didn’t buy any crap in Wegmans. But then, on the way home my cravings would overtake me and I’d stop at the little store where I usually bought gas. I’d buy myself horrible things like stale cookies, or cup cakes with gross icing on top and goopy-crap inside them, and eat all of it before I pulled into our driveway.

(go to story)
______________________


EatingWith the Ancestors

by Nancy Vieira Couto

            Those milk bottles, with a generous amount of cream at the top, reminded me of the milk of my childhood, but I should say right from the start that milk and I have always had a difficult relationship.  I remember that we had three kinds of milk in our tenement: chocolate milk, coffee milk, and plain milk.  Chocolate milk had some sort of cocoa powder stirred into it, while coffee milk was made with Silmo Coffee Syrup, a long-gone product that was once a staple in the New Bedford area.  Of the three, plain milk was the one I liked the least, although it was the simplest to prepare.  My mother would remove the orange cellophane from the top of the milk bottle, rinse the top of the cardboard cap, and give the bottle a vigorous shake.  Then she would remove the cap, pour some milk into a saucepan, and start warming it up.  Of course when my mother poured the warm plain milk over my breakfast Cheerioats, they immediately turned to mush. Truth is, I didn't like Cheerioats much either, and changing the name to Cheerios didn't make them any less mushy.  I didn't know then, and didn't learn until I was in college, that other people enjoyed their cereal with cold milk.

(go to rest of the story)

_____________________



Where Food Goes
by David S. Warren

So we bought a fruit crusher and new, larger press to use on our pears when they ripened last summer: a mixture of sweet and tart, mostly Asian pears. Some of the cider was consumed when still fresh and sweet, and most is now in the later stages of fermentation.

Meanwhile we had realized that a cider press is about the same thing as a cheese press. Being big cheese eaters,we ordered the basic tools, the coagulants and the fermentation cultures to make most any cheese.

Of course cheese making doesn’t always require a press, or need to be a lot more complicated than letting raw milk go sour. I heard on the radio that in prison, where improvisation is necessary, determined cheese-addicts use Real Lemon concentrated juice to coagulate non-dairy creamer. And there it is: easy cheesy.

We have now read so many recipes for cheese making that we are dazed and confused or maybe confused and dazed. The biggest cheesiest site on the internet has hundreds a recipes - new ones all the time, including some for mozzarella, one of which claims to be an easy thirty minute mozzarella, perfect for kids.

Don’t be fooled. The thirty minute mozzarella took a day and a half; we nearly scalded our hands in the process and never got the stuff to be stretchy as pizza dough, like it is supposed to be. So we don’t suggest you make it your first cheese.

You might want to begin with the prison cheese version, or better than that: try making the simple Portuguese kitchen cheese that Nancy Vieira Couto writes about in this issue of the magazine.

(read the beginning of this article)

_______________

Dull Ny Thinger

by Gabreal Orgrease

“Hey, sonny doy, dull ny thinger.”
 “Granpa, no.”
 “I’m not yer Granda ya little tord. Now dull ny thinger.”

 Aubergine Bawcutt, the talking eggplant, is the infamous Catskill ventriloquist Lorne Surlingham’s most famous dummy. Which is not saying a whole lot for dummies or back alley ventriloquists. A fat purple eggplant poked onto the top end of a broomstick, fastened with brass thumbtacks -- white eyes of radish slices with red peel rings, a petite carrot nose and a thin white-green slice for a mouth. The Chef’s Dummy they used to call her in the good old days on the underground circuit. A sort of Ubu Roi take-off in the vegetable and janitorial kingdom that never translated well to television but was a backstage hit at a thousand and twenty-three catered birthday parties.

 “Oh man, grandpa, do you really have to do that? It isn’t funny any more.”

(read this story in its entirety)
 

____________________

 



Possum Food

by Sue-Ryn Burns

One Saturday shortly after July 4th, when it was fairly quiet and we had released most of the first-litter squirrels and had most of the waterfowl in outside pens, the phone rang. In what can only be considered a moment of temporary insanity, I agreed to take 11 baby Opossums, rescued from a very busy roadside after their mother was killed by a car.
I was of course immediately charmed by the cute little babies. They look like they're wearing opera gloves and their tails are like a fifth hand. Their big pink scalloped ears have black stripes. They each had a widow's peak! They seem to be always in some kind of physical contact with each other – piled up to sleep, sitting on each other, holding paws, or keeping their tails entwined.

(read this entire story here)
_______________________


by Don Brennan

Sharing food with family and friends, while appreciating life’s blessings, can be a form of mindfulness that allows us to receive more energy from our food.

While enjoying food with Reiki practitioners, it’s not unusual to see people holding their hands above their food to fill it with Reiki before they eat. Most people seem to have the right attitude that this is a blessing and an enhancement of the food. But it’s clear that some are worried that the food might have negative energy within it.

When we experience fear, worry or anger, we cannot practice mindfulness. These feelings disconnect us and take us out of the Now. We feel unloved and unsupported. “Be Grateful,” the third Reiki Principle taught by Usui Sensei, serves as advice to help us become centered. Being grateful means nourishing gratitude in your heart, for no specific reason. It means being grateful for the gift of existence. Gratitude brings you here, into the present moment. When you are present, you are connected with all of life, with all of creation. And all is well.
All is as it should be.
(read this entire article here)
____________________
__

POETRY

FRANKLIN CRAWFORD
Helium Dogs (go to)
______________
_____


(You may view the complete print version here)
(Click to Purchase as a print magazine

_______________________



The focus of our next Metaphysical Times will be
"Significant Dreatures"


© 2020 The Metaphysical Times Publishing Company - PO Box 44 Aurora, NY 13026 • All rights reserved. For any article re-publication, contact authors directly.

 

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