I have lived in this house for over 30 years, but it is only in the last month or so that I have decided to turn a mostly unused space behind my garage into an orchard. When I was growing up, my Dad always spoke about the orchard behind his home in Warka, Poland with such pride. He didn’t gush over much, other than his grandchildren, and anything nature related, including fruits and vegetables. Watching my father choose an apple or pear was an experience, he would check each piece of fruit for ripeness, blemishes and fragrance. It made a lasting impression on me, and in part I owe my appreciation of farmer’s markets and fresh produce to him.
I am 65, and I suddenly want an orchard. This week I ordered four fruit trees, two plums, one pluot, one peach, and two blueberry bushes. I have cut and laid down cardboard, compost, and mulch to help invigorate the soil before the trees arrive later in the season. I added flower beds because I was told that trees get lonely and need companion planting. It will take years before the trees bear fruit but, G-d willing, time is something we have plenty of.
Next week, like many of you, we will have a smaller Thanksgiving celebration. It is only the second time my daughter has ever missed Thanksgiving at home. Our friends who have joined us for over twenty years won’t be with us either. I will take over my daughter’s role in making the cornbread this year, and still plan to make our pumpkin chocolate chip bread as well as sweet potato pie.
The yard smells of fresh earth and that, for me, is the smell of hope. You plant something and hope that it will bloom and that the trees will one day bear fruit. I hope that many, many, many years from now my grandchildren will say that their Mima had an orchard behind the garage and remember how much I loved my garden. And though I am thankful for all that we have, I hope that we will all be healthy at the end of this, and together again next year. I wish each of you a wonderful and hopeful Thanksgiving!
I though that for those of you who may not want to make a whole turkey this year, turkey chili could be a good alternative. Maybe served with corn bread and mashed potatoes.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds ground turkey
2 cups coarsely chopped onions
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 red pepper, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
1 Bay leaf
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1-28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 cups water ( I added chicken bouillon for flavor)
1 -14 oz can black beans
1-14 ounce can vegetarian refried beans
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
In a large heavy pot, heat the olive oil and add the ground turkey to brown. Add in onion, red pepper, garlic, jalapeno and spices, and saute for several minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer and cook for about 1 1/2 hours. Adjust seasoning.