Friday, October 5, 2007

Thanksgiving Comes in October for Us

Okay...uncle. I'll admit it. It's Fall. Every morning, there is a fresh layer of leaves carpeting the lawn, my garden is slowing down and it's getting downright nippy from time to time. The deer have lost their foxy coat and are turning gray. The squirrels are pillaging the trees for nuts; each tree has a pile of hulls littering the ground beneath. And the torrent of food from my garden winds down to a trickle. It's been a fruitful summer.

The other major hallmark of Fall in our house is the annual pear harvest. A neighbor of my parents, who live down South, has pear trees growing in her yard and what is food for us is a burden for her, since she has no use for them. Every October, my father harvests these pears by the boxful. Boxes of them. Hundreds of pounds of them. Every October, my parents trek up to our house with these boxes and boxes of pears. Every October, we spend a week in the kitchen, cutting, slicing, pureeing, spicing, processing, and canning. This year, the Hobbits were particularly excited about helping out with the processing. Everyone was armed with a knife and a cutting board. It's a family affair. The Hobbits sat down with my parents and plowed through two hundred pounds, non-stop, while I processed in the kitchen, non-stop. Dog is ten years old and is starting to produce adult-like labor, but even Princess didn't give up her end until the job was done. In fact, she was decidedly crestfallen when the last pear was chopped up and her part was complete. Between the garden and the pears, my basement is bursting at the seams. See how much we have to be thankful for?

The pear butter recipe is really simple, just a lot of work when you're talking two hundred pounds of pears.

Pear Butter

14 cups of pear puree
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 teaspoons vanilla

Whirl through food processor and freeze or can as desired.

Dear Mrs. Baccus,

What can I say? Words fail me to describe your generosity in sharing such delicious pears, year after year, so faithfully. These have become such a staple in our household. Preserving these pears each fall has become a tradition in our house that we all look forward to. The pear butter recipe is a well-worn and spotted page in my recipe book. Each fall I imagine all of the possibilities. Some of them get juiced, some of them are sliced and dehydrated, but most end up in rows of jars that will sweeten our winter.

You would think that over these years the kids would tire of eating pear butter muffins, but with each batch, still Bug runs through the house, excitedly announcing when a fresh batch has come out of the oven. Then there is a corresponding thunder of feet as everyone lines up to get a steaming handful. I wish I could bottle up that enthusiasm and send it for you to enjoy. It smells like muffins fresh out of the oven. And that enthusiasm is just as fresh each time.

Thank you.

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