Snow Queen and Shiso

 Five years ago I bought a potted peach tree from an orchard down the road.  It was called “Snow Queen,” and the really nice guy who sold it to me told me it had no commercial value because it had a quality called “melting” which made it incredibly delicious, but unable to be transported.

Our other peach trees are the “Florida King” variety.  This year we found that they are orange, cling-stone peaches that ripen a little here and there.  It was nice to come out and find one that was ripe that day to enjoy.

Snow Queen, it seems, is a determinate peach.  It was loaded with fruit this year.  Weeks after the Florida King peaches ripened and were all gone, the Snow Queen’s were still small and green.

Then suddenly one day I looked and realized they were all red and ripe.  Some of them were even starting to spoil.  We had to put other things aside and pick them right then and there.  We got so many peaches off of that one tree.  I didn’t count them, but they completely filled our egg basket and we still had to find a spot in the milking basket to bring even more home.

We discovered that “melting” means that the peach dissolves in juice and runs down your chin when you take a little bite.  We couldn’t believe how incredibly juicy they are.  It’s true that they don’t keep at all.  We quickly ate and froze them before they spoiled, but we still lost some, which the pigs enjoyed.  They are also a loose-stone peach, which made them easy to slice up and freeze.

 In the garden, I am finding that six pickling cucumber plants create a back-breaking amount of pickling cucumbers.  Not complaining, just mentioning it so I remember when I plan my garden next year.  I went through and harvested the big ones before it got really out of hand and spent way too long late at night slicing, salting and racking my brain for different variations on cucumber pickles.  I have an attempt at bread-and-butter slices, bread-and-butter whole, bread-and-butter relish, fennel and basil slices, spicy pickles, dill and basil whole, pickle relish, and dill whole pickles, dill relish and dill slices.  Have any suggestions?
  We hardly fit around the kitchen table now since it has been occupied by fermenting mason jars.

 The peppers are starting to come in.  All still green, of course, like the tomatoes, but it won’t be long now.  I still have some dried cayenne from last year, but we are looking forward to fresh sweet peppers, so different from the rubbery store counterparts.

 Years ago I had planted some native passion vines along the fence.  I thought they had died, but this year they are flowering.

 The shiso I planted has become huge.  It is getting ready to flower.  I hope to save seed and plant a lot of it next year.  I think it’s been really great for repelling pests.  Ants ate all my Turkish-Italian orange eggplant starts until they got to the shiso.  They left that alone.

Yesterday while I was milking Matilda, Mirin came over and told me that Ethan had crushed up some plant in the garden, and they both decided it was very toxic.  I thought he was talking about a wild nightshade that has grown by the ground cherries.  I was going on about belladonna and how intense of a plant it is.  Mirin said his head hurt now that he had smelled the leaves, and he was starting to worry he had somehow been poisoned by the smell.

While Ethan and I were taking Matilda back (there was an impending thunderstorm and she walks a lot quicker and behaves much better with Ethan along.  She has no respect for me at all.) he brought up the plant again.  He said,”What is that horrible plant in the garden?” I told him I thought it was a nightshade.  He said it smelled so bad it made his head hurt.  “Smell it,” he said, and shoved a leaf at me.  I looked at the leaf and realized it was the shiso.
“It’s like Japanese basil,” I told him.  “It smells like basil and cumin together.”

He said, “Just keep telling yourself that.  It really smells like someone put a bunch of stinkbugs and palmetto bugs in a blender.”  Mirin made me promise not to cook anything with it.

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