September 26, 2005

I just finished putting up five jars of quince butter. This seemingly odd statement illustrates a running thread in my life–I go off on tangents. My life to date results from a series of tangents. Four years ago at Halloween, there was a dessert party at my workplace. One of the staff made a culinary masterpiece. I inquired, and learned that I was eating a quince and almond tart. I asked for, and was given, the recipe. The memory of this tart stayed on in the back of my mind. Three years ago, autumn plant shopping commenced. I bought a pineapple quince tree. I couldn’t tell you a thing about them, except that they made quinces and I needed quinces to make quince and almond tart. I considered myself lucky, since I already have 50 or more almond trees and thus the other half of the main ingredients were already at hand. It never really occurred to me to find and purchase the item. Why buy a jar of jam when you can spend $15 extra and get the tree? This last spring, the tree flowered for the first time, and quinces grew. Green, apple-like things. It took two hours online to decide when they might be ripe. There is much disagreement whether to make preserves from ripe versus slightly underripe quinces. They were yellow-green as of last week, so I picked some. I used 8 to make this quince butter. I learned the difference between jam, butter, preserves, sauce, jelly, chutney, and conserves. (Far be it from me to deny the reader the pleasures of discovery). First one had to peel and chop. And boil and then peel and chop some more. And strain and mash. And learn that a strainer is a poor substitute for a food mill (next tangent: go on eBay and bid on antique food mill). And puree and add sugar and boil and stir. It turns out that eight quinces make rather a lot of butter. I have eight more quinces from the still very small tree. In coming years I forsee disturbing amounts of quince butter going into mason jars. I have my almonds, and perhaps tomorrow or the day after I will begin on the tart itself, right after I purchase some superfine sugar at the store. I may hand out a jar or two of extra quince butter. But don’t expect a slice of tart this year. I’m going to eat it. After all, I did wait four years for this.

The new Delaware chicks grow and sleep and sprout new feathers. However the poor Silkie chick has died. I found it drowned in an inch of water, after having fought for two days with some issues unrelated to the spraddle leg. It’s for the best, I have to say over and over “A bird that isn’t right will only grow a little older and die from developmental problems you can’t see or know about.” But it’s still sad to see a little life that struggled for its chance go and snuff it in the waterer. We admired the little bird’s spirit of trying to succeed. We buried it in the yard with some large daffodil bulbs. We’ll see the flowers in the spring and remember.

In other developments, we are dropping Home Depot like a hot rock for our re-roofing project. We received another bid that was about 60% lower, from a roofer who was personally recommended in glowing terms by friends of ours. Home Depot might have been worth the pricey bid, except that it turned out their salesman didn’t actually know some very critical points concerning modular homes that drastically affected many aspects of our contract. As in, they had to reneg on multiple promised items, thus voiding our agreement. I consider ourselves to have dodged an overpriced bullet at this point.

The used tractor we purchased has been brought to Yuba City and will be evaluated by the mechanics and ourselves Wednesday afternoon, to see where we want to go next.

A spectacular thunderstorm occurred here in the late afternoon and evening. A big electrical show and some rain, and most of all the clean and delicious smelling air. Time for bed, to drift off while sniffing those wonderful negative ions in the air….

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