Tag Archives: quince

Feasting all over.

We are celebrating one of our parish feast days, and I was blessed to be at Vigil tonight. The hymns and readings for the feast are the same every year, but the arrangements and singers and various aspects change, so that every service is both comforting in its familiar traditions and beautifully unique.

At a festal vigil the Five Loaves are blessed and broken for us to eat, to sustain us during what can be a long service; and we receive anointing with holy oil as another way to participate bodily. The Vigil service includes parts of the Vespers and Matins services and is the first part of the feast, which concludes in the morning.

The caterpillars on my milkweed plants are partaking of a different sort of food.  They have been traveling among all the different species of Asclepias, including the new plants just set out. Though there are fewer of them now, it’s good to see their survival instincts operating.

The day that I set off for Pippin’s place last week, I received a quantity of quinces by way of a friend of a friend, which anonymous friend drove several miles from another town to drop them off at church, so that I could pick them up on my way north. They sat in the back of my car for those several days, and this week I processed them. They turned out to be very wormy, but they were so big and numerous that after quite a lot of trimming and slicing, I ended up with a few quarts. I poached them with lemon, sugar and a cinnamon stick. I froze most of them but have been enjoying one quart right away.


In the past I have mostly baked them, and that was much easier. I love quince and am sad that so few people have trees anymore. I have put out queries some years to search out whether anyone knows of unwanted quinces I could take; this batch came to me completely out of the blue, unasked for.

Divine Liturgy for the feast will be in the morning, the celebration of the Eucharist. That will make it feel like Sunday, but it’s Saturday…. and besides feasting, I’ll be gardening — and resting, because I’ve been running around a lot!

I leave you with one of the readings from this evening’s service, which refers to a hearty feast of wisdom:

PROVERBS 9:1-11

Wisdom has built her house,
she has hewn out her seven pillars,
she has slaughtered her meat, she has mixed her wine,
she has also furnished her table.
She has sent out her maidens,
she cries out from the highest places of the city,
“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
As for him who lacks understanding, she says to him,
“Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed.
Forsake foolishness and live,
and go in the way of understanding.
He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself,
and he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself.
Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you;
give instruction to a wise man,
and he will be still wiser;
teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
For by me your days will be multiplied,
and years of life will be added to you.”

Red for the Word made flesh.

When the doorbell rang one evening after dark, dark coming so early this season, Susan and I were both on our guard, because we are two vulnerable women and we weren’t expecting anyone.

I have a peephole in my door, and I peeped, and saw that it was a human shape and not a package on the step, but I had to turn on the porch light to see if it was someone I recognized. It was Linda! Linda is  my friend who took me to the Heirloom Festival recently. She has been gifting me with garden things for four decades, and she’d mentioned last month that her neighbor — they live fifteen miles from here! — had some quinces she would try to bring me. Here she stood at my door with a dozen in the bottom of a shopping bag. I kissed her.

She’d heard about the puny and rock-hard fruits I’d gathered and tried to use, but this will be my last mention of that batch, because these were perfect. For a couple of days I let the good quinces perfume the kitchen, and then I faced the challenge of making use of them for food, when I didn’t have time to peel them. I took time instead to find a recipe for oven-poaching whole quinces with star anise, lemon, honey and cinnamon. As they baked, the whole house filled with an even complex and delicious aroma.

It is worth cooking quinces just to see how the fruit changes to this beautiful orange-pink color. I found it festive in Christmasy way, partly because I had that morning heard a talk that our rector gave the children after Liturgy, about the sequence and meaning of the layers of vestments that he puts on for the services, and he started out telling what the different colors symbolize.

Liturgical churches do not all use the same colors for various seasons or feasts on the calendar, and there are numerous options and meanings. But during Advent in our tradition, the vestments and altar cloths are red, as we are anticipating the birth of the Savior born to a human mother, who gave him human flesh and blood. Red for blood. To remind us of that tenet of our Christology.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

-The Gospel of John

rain with quinces

In the evening of this humid day I was cooking, and waiting for my computer guy, who never came… Rain began to fall about 5:00, but the air is mild, so I opened the windows wider so as to smell the indescribable and rare scents of these early rains. When you live where the whole summer is dry, often for five months, the first showers of fall are especially delicious.

I was peeling and cutting up the smallest quinces I’ve ever seen, and surely they are the most rock-like. For years I’ve been on the lookout for neglected quince trees, which I know used to be common, when I didn’t have time to experiment with them. Last month I was invited to go with my new neighbor Kim up in the hills to pick fruit at her friend’s estate. The word was, the fig trees were loaded.

When we arrived, we found that the figs were mostly not ripe. Passing over the monster zucchini, we picked kumquats that turned out to be more sour than lemons, a few apples and pears, and these dwarf quinces. Note to self: tiny quinces are not a good deal.

I interrupted my tedious quince prep to make tomato soup for dinner, using roasted cherry tomatoes of every color, preserved in the freezer from a distant summer, and other hoarded tomato treasures. Then I decided not to eat my garlicky soup after all, because I am going to the dentist tomorrow. I munched on a few handfuls of sunflower seeds.

Then it was back to the quinces: At this point they have been poaching for a good hour, and did get soft, but they are more sour than the kumquats, reminiscent of rhubarb, in spite of me adding extra extra sugar. Now I’m wondering if the tree they came from was some kind of sport — but no, there was more than one tree….

So many of my thrifty cooking projects lately have ended up terribly time consuming, but at least today I was able to feel appropriate to the fallish weather, in my efforts to use the garden harvest. The fresh and damp air was such a tonic that only laughing, not grousing, seemed natural. When I took this picture, a light rain was watering the earth.

 

I am helped to be glad of Spring.

Normally it takes 15 miles and a half-hour to get back from the dentist, but today I added considerably to the length of the trip what with all the U-flipping I did along the country roads, trying to find a place where I could safely pull over and park, near a good view of the mustard fields.

Mustard is ubiquitous right now, I kept telling myself, so why bother? You should be home pruning your own roses. Acacia trees are also appearing like so many suns along every block and mile, but I like the mustard better, especially when it crowds in among the rows of black and twisty grapevines.

Before I’d started home from Dentist Town I walked around being nostalgic. In times past our family would on Sundays drive down the highway to church, through a valley that in springtime was scattered with old trees in pink or white blooms. We made a game of counting those trees – especially the white ones.

When Mr. Glad and I moved to this area 40 years ago I learned what a quince was, and after that, about this time of year the coral-colored bushes always came out and introduced themselves again, dressed exactly like this one that I found today. And look! Even the bee was with me in my blossom reverie. He is just left of center intent on his business.

Rosemary was in flower (photo near top), and in another shape climbed up the wall alongside juniper. I found an old white tree with Miner’s Lettuce at his foot, looking very like the ones we used to tally up as treasures. The hope that my photos of trees and shrubs might be o.k. comforted me when all the mustard views seemed flat and distant.

But it turned out I had a couple of pictures on the camera worthy of snipping and cropping to show you my loves. Until I saw them in two dimensions on my monitor, I hadn’t lifted my eyes to the hills at all, being so obsessed with the lower stretches of terrain. Now I can glean a little comfort from my pictures on another level.

privet berries

It’s been a dry winter since Christmas, and as a farmer’s daughter I find it a challenge to respond wholeheartedly to the greetings I hear daily now, along the lines of “Isn’t it nice to have this beautiful weather?” and “Don’t you just love that Spring is finally here?!” It feels a little scary to leave what is usually our rainiest season behind without getting soaked.

But just because I’m writing on the topic, I did some research and found an encouraging map that gives me some good news: Some of California’s reservoirs are fuller than average right now; a third of them are full to 80% or more of their capacity. Another chart, though, shows that the water content of the Sierra snow is low. Not the lowest ever, but….Things have always been iffy this way for mankind, since The Flood. Sometimes enough water, sometimes flooding, sometimes drought. At least this year the trees and fields are drawing enough moisture from the soil that they can make flowers. The hills are green now…perhaps we’ll even get rain in March and they won’t turn gold and parched too early. I will thank the Good Lord that by His mercy and faithfulness Spring has come again.