Pear Necessities

by Laura on September 6, 2009

in Blog

Life has a way of getting in the way of food. This past week, we’ve been all wrapped up with the start of school, ensuring kids eat breakfast, are dressed and ready to be carted off to school, only to reverse the process in the afternoon for the pickup. Adding to my usual meal planning, I’ve had to pack lunches and figure out snacks for the kids.  Sure, I work at home, but that doesn’t mean I’ve the extra time to worry about these things. In fact, since I have three full days when all the kids are at school, I am determined to take advantage of every second I have to work. I walk through the house with blinders on, mentally noting what needs to be done (fold the laundry, clean the floor, pick up that toy that has been there for 3 days), but I head straight to the office, desperate to get something accomplished.

So, while I’ve been coordinating drop-off and pick-up, and working in between, the pears have been piling up. This weekend, we all stepped onto the ladder, to pick our ripening pears before they could hit the ground and split open, attracting flies, bees and other critters from the neighborhood. While the upper reaches of the tree remain full of pears, we did manage to pick several hundred, the majority of which continue to sit in the wagon, in boxes and pails scattered in the backyard.

I couldn’t let things go any longer.

Each morning it has become a ritual to head out to the yard to pick up fallen pears, those that have been ravaged by raccoons, deer and whatever else hops the fence in the middle of the night. It takes time, but each time I pass by the bucket of beautiful pears, I get a good feeling about taking advantage of the bounty our land is offering.

This morning, while cleaning the yard, I glanced to the side of the house, the next round of blackberries had ripened, and I couldn’t let that go to waste.

An hour later, when I should have been working, I have a bowl full of blackberries, and the buckets of pears, waiting to be devoured.

I hunted down some paper bags, filled them, and slipped in a printed recipe of Pear Pocket Pies and Quesadillas with Pear and Prosciutto. I delivered them to preschool and elementary school teachers. I bagged some up for friends and neighbors, and I transformed some of the pears into delicious Pear Pocket Pies, enjoyed by our family, and a few to the preschool teachers.

This weekend we’ll be sure to scatter those pears around the community. Saturday, we’ll haul some of those pears to the park in search of a trade with the locals. On Sunday, friends will be over for dinner – and undoubtedly will be leaving with a bag of pears. Then, Monday, Labor Day, we’re joining the local Slow Food Eat-In where we will share a meal with kids, neighbors, teachers and community leaders and others concerned about the need to get real food into schools. I’m sure one of my potluck contributions will be pears something or other.

Through this all, I am reminded of a book the kids have, Our Raspberry Jam. The family visits a farm to pick raspberries. Then, after returning home and making jam, the little girl proceeds to eat the raspberry jam on everything – hamburgers, peanut butter and jelly, even corn on the cob – until she gets sick of it.

Several months later, she finds a jar in the back of the pantry, opens it and remembers why she loved their raspberry jam. She exclaims, “I love it because we made it!”

Right now, the glow of the pear bounty may be dimming, but I know a few months down the road, when I unearth a pear pocket pie in the freezer, or find some pear preserves in the pantry, I’ll be reminded of why I loved pear season.

Pear Pocket Pies

  • 1 homemade piecrust
  • 3 small, ripe California Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 dash nutmeg

 

Directions:

1.   Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.   Roll out pie dough and cut circle in crush using a 5-inch bowl as a guide.
3.   Gather up remaining dough and roll out on a lightly floured board and cut circles until dough is gone.
4.   In a medium bowl, combine pears with brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg; toss well to combine.
5.   Place equal amounts of fruit onto half of each circle, leaving excess liquid in bowl.
6.   Brush edges of dough with water.
7.   Pick up each circle like a taco shell, with rounded sides up, and pinch edges together to enclose filling.
8.   Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and press with the tines of a fork to seal.
9.   Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar.
10.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Quesadillas with Pears and Prosciutto

  • (10-inch) flour tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese, optional
  • 2 to 3 thin slices of prosciutto, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large California Bartlett pear, peeled and thinly sliced

 

Directions:

1)    In a large skillet, heat 2 tortillas over medium heat until both sides are pale golden brown and are no longer soft and doughy.
2)    Remove 1 tortilla from skillet; reduce heat to low.
3)    Place tortilla in pan and sprinkle with 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese and 1/4 cup goat cheese, if desired.
4)    Cover with half of the prosciutto and half the pear slices.
5)    Cover pears with 1/2 cup more cheese and add the second tortilla; press firmly to secure ingredients.
6)    Cook until bottom tortilla is golden brown and bottom layer of cheese is melted.
7)    Carefully flip quesadilla over and cook second side until cheese is melted and tortilla is golden brown.
8)    Repeat with remaining ingredients. (Makes 10 servings)

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