Freestone

I got my last basket of peaches at a local orchard this week. They have picked all the fruit and placed them in cold storage to sell at local markets.

Once brought to room temperature, they were perfect.peaches

These are the yellow freestone variety, so named because the fruit separates easily from the center stone.

I have set about to preserving them, a simple process of freezing the peeled, sliced fruit in layers on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.

Placed in plastic bags, the frozen slices will last up to a year.

Growing up, I only knew of the cling peaches, in heavy syrup, that were sold in cans or preserved in a more complicated process at home.

I come from a family of freestones, we all separated easily and early. It was encouraged by our parents, for a variety of practical reasons, and even more emotional ones.

In our extended family, cousins, in-laws, etc., there is really only one who didn’t get away. He was always immersed in the challenges of aging parents, never really having asserted his independence, or giving up the parent/child relationship that remains today.

That’s not a judgment. It seems to have worked for him.

We will be working together to sort through 6 decades of treasures and trash as we prep for the sale of the family home, treading lightly through very personal memories.

My mother in law has been living in an independent senior apartment for almost 2 years now, and is ready to give up her home. She will never be emotionally ready to do so, how does one not cling to the home that was meant for a lifetime ?

It is logical, it makes practical sense, but so bittersweet.

One can only imagine. In our many moves over the years, I have not had that kind of attachment to a home, or even a location.

I can’t really end this piece without a connection to a very famous scene from a 1971 episode of All in the Family. Edith describes a freak accident with a can of cling peaches, in heavy syrup.

 

 

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Medicine Woman’s Larder – Guest Post – Hungarian Nut Rolls by Van

Doing a guest post on Sally’s lovely blog. Walnuts are the special guest ! ☺

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

medicine-womans-larder

Following on from the posts last week on Walnuts.. Van mentioned that she had an old family recipe using walnuts that her family loved.  I persuaded her to share with the rest of us.

Hungarian Nut Rolls

This is a much loved recipe from the 1920’s, handed down by women in babushka’s. They used an old fashioned manual nut grinder, mounted to the edge of a wooden table. The food processor made it so much easier.

Even with modern convenience, this is a recipe that keeps you at home for hours, but the aromas of yeast dough, mixed with real butter and fresh walnuts…worth the effort.
Hope you enjoy. I’m proud to share.

picture1

DOUGH INGREDIENTS
6 Cups flour
2TBS sugar
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 packs dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
3/4lb. Butter
7 egg yolks
1 Cup whole milk.

FILLING INGREDIENTS
2lb. Walnuts, ground finely
7 egg whites
1…

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Absence of Malice

absence-of-malice

Paul Newman. 1981 Movie.

No movie review, I just needed an excuse to post a pic of a pretty man.

A favorite blogger asked me how I can write so lovingly about a troubled mother/daughter relationship.

Earlier today, I read about Sharon Osborne’s mental breakdown, as addressed on her show, The Talk.

Many spoke of her courage, candor, and how it might help to remove stigma from mental health issues, particularly depression. There was discussion of how we have progressed in treatment, meds, group therapy, public sensitivity and awareness.

My mother was a mostly untreated manic depressive. My father’s history included a decades-long severe depression in his own family, an illness which was poorly treated, with tragic results.

The skepticism was real and palpable. There was little or no respect for any kind of psychiatric intervention.

My mother’s breakdown happened in the 1950’s, drugs were primitive and dangerous, ECT was considered a risk, but they tried it as a last resort.

It didn’t work for her, and she returned to us in a zombie-like state.

She stopped taking her meds.

For a few years following, 3 young children were subjected to physical and emotional abuse, psychological abandonment, well hidden from our father. He was preoccupied with working 2 jobs to keep the family afloat.

The sudden death of our grandmother,  our guardian and caretaker, sent him into a personal and financial crisis. My mother lost her job, half of their income, and was forced into the role of “mom” she had avoided for years.

It was not a pretty scene.

There would be healing, much of which came from the birth of the next child, a much wanted son.

It took me many years to recover from a very wounded relationship with her. When we came of age, we all managed to distance ourselves. But the damage came early, went deep.

Ultimately, I came to forgive her for all of it. It was not her fault. She had an illness that was never properly addressed, let alone healed.

There was an absence of malice.

She did not set out to hurt her children. It was just a sad, tragic by-product of a lifelong mental disorder.

That doesn’t excuse some very violent, negative behavior patterns. It doesn’t heal that early scar tissue. It just allowed us all, in our own way, to come to a type of understanding that helped us move forward in life.

For me, and for how my personal choices would evolve, it was not just valuable, not just important, it was life-saving.

************************************************************

Absence of Malice is a 1981 movie starring Paul Newman and Sally Field, the title is a legal reference that deals with journalistic ethics. It is a great movie, highly recommended, but aside from the title, is pretty much irrelevant to this post.

 

 

 

 

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Punch Buggy

There was a 1960’s vintage auto show that surprised me at a local mall this past weekend. There was a DJ playing 60’s music, a charity fund raiser, flea market and kid activities.

interior

Blue/Grey Vinyl 1964

A highlight for me was far more simple than all of that.

I stuck my head into a 1964 VW Beetle. The memories came flooding back to high school days.

The aroma of that simple, mostly vinyl interior is the same today as it was 50 years ago.

I did not get my first car until I was almost 21, and it was a Ford Fairlane, not a VW. But so many friends were driving them at the time.

They were inexpensive, simple, designed to not go over 62 mph, could hold 3 passengers, at best. All of that must have made it a desirable choice for parents of teenage drivers.

I was taken back to late night trips home from athletic events, after school club activities, meeting up at safe local hangouts, doing Chinese fire drills (exiting and circling the car while at a stoplight).

And after it all, scraping together enough change to fill up the gas tank.

And then there was the time in college when the guys in the next dorm took apart a VW beetle while the owner was asleep and reassembled it in a study lounge.

The tradition of spotting them on the highway and punching the arm of the nearest victim while yelling “Punch Buggy” lasted well past the 1960’s.

And to think that on its initial US import in 1949, there were only 2 VW’s sold. No one believed at the time that Americans would want such a cheap, unadorned vehicle, and surely not one made in a foreign country.

By 1962, one million had been imported.

herbie

1968 Movie

It re-emerged with a similar design, and a front engine, sometime in the late 1990’s, but its glory will most likely never equate to what it was in the 1960’s.

And, oh, that new car smell.

Even 50 years later, with eyes closed, it would be familiar.

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Into the Wild

There is a certain spirit that we all share that can be called “wanderlust.” It is why travel blogs are so very popular, the vicarious thrill.

It was exciting to discover the word “Magyar” on the immigration papers of my grandparents. To me, it verified the gypsy blood in our veins. It was a bit disappointing later to realize that the term often referred to the Hungarian language more than the tribe of gypsies. But, still.

I happened upon an Oscar winning song by Eddie Vedder that was part of a biographical movie, Into the Wild.  Based on a book by Jon Krakauer, it tells the cautionary tale of a spirited young man, Christopher McCandless.

Born into wealth and privilege, he gave his money and possessions to charity just after college graduation, and set out on a road trip to the Alaskan wilderness.

It did not end well for him, but the 2007 movie, directed by Sean Penn, is a thing of beauty.

And the song is special.

“Everyone I come across in cages they bought
They think of me and my wandering but I’m never what they thought
Got my indignation but I’m pure in all my thoughts
I’m alive”

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Green Tomatoes

cheri-wollenberg

Oil painting. Cheri Wollenberg.

The last of my summer tomatoes had a stubborn streak. They were staying green.

I brought them into the house recently. Maybe I didn’t want the critters to get to them. Maybe I figured I could have them ripen on the counter at their own speed.

Or maybe I was just tired of the daily watering. Our relentless hot, dry summer carried into September.

My first instinct…the windowsill. Still green.

I moved them into baskets somewhat away from the light source. Still green.

Then I happened upon a tip that suggested putting them in darkness, specifically a brown paper bag.

There are certain gases emitted during the ripening process that, once captured and contained, will benefit the ripening.

It is working.

They are turning yellow, orange, then the desired red. Once in that brown bag, I stopped interfering, and the process evolved in its own time.

We are very much like that.

I have suffered bouts of depression over the years. Words of advice from caring friends and family never worked. Surrounding myself with joy and light didn’t always help. Mostly, the contrast was painful.

At times, we all need to go into that dark place and heal, in our own way, at our own pace.

People will notice. They will worry. They will try to help you to a brighter place.

But it is still our own brown bag.

Let it rest.

 

 

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Pagoda

It was a teenage hangout.

We went here for 3 reasons. To climb the mountain, to make out, to eat at the first McDonald’s in our area.

Not sure of the order of importance.

Fast food was never allowed in my home. When friends heard about those McDonald’s golden arches, we headed 40 miles north to check them out.

It was the 1960’s, and it was shiny and new.mcdonalds

Hamburgers, fries, milkshakes, all with change for a dollar.

What’s not to love ?

Very close by was a curvy, narrow, dangerous drive up a mountain to reach the Pagoda, a local tourist attraction.

I never saw it in daylight, certainly never as shown in this brief, promotional video.

It was to foretell my future. Some 3 decades later, our family would live in the area.  It would be our first return to Pennsylvania since our college days.

We should make a date to drive up that mountain at night.

It only seems right.

But, we’ll skip the McDonald’s.

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