Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Love is a fruit

Hello, everybody! The Fresh Pioneer has returned with some sad news. It's the end of summer, have you noticed??

But rather than mope, I thought I'd post a retrospective as a bloggy sort of Psalm 148. (It's okay if you don't have it memorized, you can read it here... and then come back!).  Psalm 148
I want to go for one last glorious run through my backyard.

Fresh raspberries. Heaven on earth.
 Squash and zucchini from my friend Barb's garden.
Piles of cukes from my stepmother's garden. We ate so many cucumbers, I'm surprised we're not green.
Blueberries from Lampson Blueberries, just twenty minutes from our house, up in the hills. We picked over 150 lbs and they didn't even make it to October. Let's see: 8 people, 3 months, that's approximately 6 pounds of blueberries a month per person in our house. Not very much! Next year, we'll pick more. I say that every year.

Pears from my dad's pear tree. (Like my kettle? Very Pioneer-y.)

Peaches from one of our two peach trees. There were so many that I had to figure out how to freeze them. Ruthy's peach pie is my next project!

Our seedless grapes have finally rebounded from the drought of 2001. Had a wonderful crop this year and about 50 lbs went to a woman who made them into raisins. She bakes panattone for Christmas and ships it all over the US.

Pounds and pounds of perfect plums from my dad's orchard. The tree was so overloaded it was breaking its own branches. We must have picked a hundred pounds. My neighbors started pulling their curtains when they saw us coming with our bags of free plums. You can only eat so many...

Oops, how did this sneak in here?? We're supposed to be praising God's bountiful goodness. But I suppose zucchini bread with walnuts and chocolate chips is worthy of a little praise. :)

We also had bags and bags of our neighbors' goodies because we live in the sort of place that if you're growing it, you better share. It's just good manners. So we've had sweet corn and heirloom tomatoes and apricots, too.

I'm continually in awe of the massive blessings that God showers on us, for no good reason.

He's just that way. And this was a little 'taste' of the way He blesses us out here in ORYGUN.

 (And that pic was taken by Jeff Horner who works at our little hometown paper, the Walla Walla Union Bulletin. The guy is brilliant. Who knows why he lives way out here in podunk east, but we're sure glad he does.)

But as winter closes in, I'll try to remember what Mother Teresa said. "Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand."

When the memories of fresh raspberries and pears have faded and I'm staring out my kitchen window at the frost on the dead lawn, I'll just reach out and snag a toddler... and give them some loving. (Like this little dude, watching his cookies bake. He stared at them for a long time before they were 'done'.)
Hey, here's a cute one... And he's holding walnuts. Bonus.

Better yet, I'll snag a tweener or two. Hey, she looks hug-able...

This one is scaring me a bit. Too many ninja movies?

Oh, wait. This one really needs a squeeze. Cranky, naked toddler out of the bath stole her apple slices and then sat his naked tushie on her lap. Check out her face. She's thinking how much her life stinks right now. Long-suffering tweeners. Gotta love 'em.

So, to ease the transition to Fall, we're going to do what we do best. Make a cake!
Oh wait, I'm not good at cake. But I still like to eat cake, so I'll make one anyway. I've picked up a few tips over here on Yankee Belle Cafe, so let's go try them out.

I saw Hershey's has a chocolate cake recipe that didn't look too hard. And it's rated BEGINNER. I'll take that as a good sign...

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cupsall-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cupHERSHEY'S Cocoa
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • · 2 eggs
· 1 cup milk · ( we were out but I used condensed, with some water. Am I just like a pioneer woman or what??)
    1/2 cup vegetable oil
   2 teaspoons vanilla extract
   1 cup boiling water

So, I mixed everything together (really, just like that except for the boiling water and the Hershey's powder, those I mixed separately and then added them) and let Edna do her magic. (Check out that gleaming chrome. Go, baby, go!!)

I think it was Mindy who said to dust the inside with cocoa powder instead of flour. MMMMMM.

And then Missy had a great tutorial on when a toothpick comes out clean it means done. Really clean, not sorta clean, with blobs. THEN she said to let it cool completely before trying to pry it out of the pan. (*lightbulb*)

SUCCESS!!!! And now I stuffed foil in there so the aliens wouldn't mess with its chocolate brain.

No, no, no. I have a plan. and it involves real pumpkin stem. So out I go to the porch...
And mix some frosting until it's just the right shade of.... salmon pink. Whatever. Use your imaginations.
At least the green was okay. And now for the decoration... Because you know I live in a zoo.

Uh-huh. Eat your hearts out, ladies. Multi-colored sprinkles dumped on by a 3 year old.

And check out that shirt. HE's ready for Fall! Even if I'm not.

Even if I'm dreading the six month trek through socks and shoes and jackets and coats and mittens and runny noses and being trapped in the house all day.

Because it will pass, and we'll have some fun while we wait for spring to come around again.

(My friend Patty Jones' pumpkins, straight from the patch! She sold them on the cheap and donated all proceeds to the Humane Society. She rocks.)

So, I raise my cake and say a prayer for friends near and far. Because LOVE is a fruit always in season, no matter how long this winter will last.


  1. Wow! What a packed post. You are making miss the plum tarts and pumpkin soup and CHOCOLATE in Switzerland! So I guess I will just have to create my own Swiss harvest menu here!

    Thanks for the head start and for Mother Teresa!
    I saw two of her nuns in Switzerland too!

    Peace, Julie

    1. I never got used to seeing HERDS of sisters and brothers and priests and monks, etc. wandering in Europe. They'd probably be taken in my Homeland Security here because it's so darn crazy looking! One is interesting... 30 at a time is shocking.

  2. Second comment. All your kids are gorgeous. That is all.

    1. Hunhhhh. Yes, and that's the only reason they don't live in the garage. Stinkin' troublemakers.


  3. What a beautiful post, Virginia!! Visually and heart-touching.

    And what a gorgeous photo by Jeff Horner! Thanks for sharing your summer and your family with us. Oh, and for making my mouth water for cake!

    1. Isn't he amazing??? I think he's actually won some national photo awards, big ones. And he runs a series where his dog goes around with him, and every shot has his dog's perspective. Too funny.

  4. Just beautiful! And, of course, quirky. :-) Loved the images and the words and the longsuffering children. LOL. And the cake recipe. I'm going to make that today. I'm home sick :-( -- nasty cold -- so I think I deserve a cheer me up, don't you?

    1. Aw, Kav! We just got sick here for the first time since March, last spring. I suppose I can't complain....

      But I sure want to!!! Ugh. So sorry. Hope the cake makes you feel better!!

  5. Great post, Virginia. Yes, love is always in season.

    Speaking of love, I LOVE that cake. What a great mom.

    1. Well, Mindy, once I learned a few things on YBC, it actually wasn't a total 'cake wreck'.

      Man, I should do a whole book of those. Oh, wait, someone already did!

      The salmon pink frosting was a bit weird, but still tasted great. :D

  6. Oh, Virginia, you're making me long for the summer that wasn't. Drought here, late-spring freeze in Michigan (my go-to place for apples), and continued parching dryness this fall....

    No wonder all those pioneers headed west to Oregon! the land of plenty and growing children!

    Oh, and none of Missy's Oreo cake for the ladies night at church. We're short a car (thanks to our 20 year old son) so no trip to the store for me.

    BUT, the people who live on the corner where our son totaled the car (no one hurt!), gave my dear husband a couple zucchini while they were waiting for the police to finish writing my son's traffic ticket. So I have zucchini! Chocolate zucchini cake for the ladies tonight!

    1. Haha! Ok, the mental image of people handing out zucchini to traffic accidents victims made me laugh (only because I saw on fb that he's okay, although I'm in pain over your loss of a car).

      I so want to try that oreo cake, too. Bu I'm afraid. I think that one is a little advanced for me. :O

  7. What a beautiful account of the Lord's blessings!!!!!!

  8. I love this post! Isabel, I feel your pain. And I can see your wings from here :D Hello to all my gorgeous talented nieces and nephews--wish I was there to eat that lovely cake with you all! And Ginny, there really are salmon colored pumpkins--they are the "in" thing in Baker this year--is that funny or what? Beautiful job on the post and your cake :P

    1. Helllo, sisty ugler!

      Everyone, this is my sister. She feels Isabel's pain because she was the older sister who got sat on and her food stolen. *evil cackle*

      And seriously??? Salmon colored pumpkins???

      I should have just left it white and made it a ghostie pumpkin!