Autum Colors



One of the Marina di Choggia pumpkins we pulled out of the garden in August
Thai Red Roselle

Down here we don’t get the stunning fall leaf display the way it happens up North.  There are beautiful leaves to find, but the landscape is never lit up with brilliant reds, yellows, and oranges.  Instead I am enjoying the beautiful fall colors coming out of the garden right now.

Sweet, starchy, and pungent are the flavors and foods of late summer and fall in Chinese medicine, so perfectly aligned with what is ready to harvest in those seasons – cassava, corn, millet, spicy peppers, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and super-sweet persimmons.

We finally got around to roasting one of the big blue Marina di Choggia pumpkins.  I’ve wanted to grow them for years, but they never made the short list of pumpkins until now.  They are so ornamental, I’ve had them sitting around on side tables as decorations instead of eating them.  This one was getting a little grey around the edges and finally made it into the oven.  I can finally confirm the seed catalogue’s glowing praise.  It roasted up well and was very tasty.  It wasn’t as sweet as the Seminole pumpkins, but it made a great savory fried pumpkin dish as leftovers.

We got the last few bags of non-astringent persimmons from the Jonesville Persimmon Orchard last week.  They are almost too sweet, and taste like caramel candy.  I mentioned that I wished people gave out persimmons for Halloween, and Mirin piped up that he has compared persimmons to candy and come to the conclusion that the persimmons are actually sweeter.  We had been eating them in quantity (who needs candy?), but they are being strictly rationed out between us now that the season is over.

I chatted with Ken, who owns the Jonesville Persimmon Orchard, while we were picking over the last bins of persimmons and trying to supervise Clothilde as she played with Possum, the fruit guard dog (he barks at the birds).  I was trying to commiserate on the season being over, but Ken said he finds it to be such a relief not to be picking any more!  I laughed because I can totally relate.  It’s so easy to drift in and pick some up, not even thinking about all the work that goes into tending the trees and harvesting.

He showed us some interesting persimmon trees that are crosses of the native wild persimmons and and Asian variety.  It resembled what you would imagine a cross between an astringent and non-astringent persimmon would be like.  The fruit was a deep, glowing orange, but round rather than elongated like the astringent varieties.  There were other interesting fruit trees, too.  Cold-tolerant bananas and mangoes, blueberries and blackberries.  He is always trying new varieties and has carefully selected ones that thrive here in North Florida.

The roselle is finally in full production, ready for turkey season.  I am determined to attempt an all home-grown Thanksgiving this year, with cassava stuffing and roselle “cranberry” sauce (stay tuned for more on that coming up!).

Ethan is struggling with the sheer abundance of the hot pepper harvest this year.  There’s only so much hot pepper sauce one person can eat in a year (no one else in the family regularly douses their food with it), so he is almost at the stage where he will be begging people to take it away.

The weather is growing cooler, and the winter garden gets taller every day.  Soon the frost will bite back the bright colors and radishes and greens will fill our table.

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