November 16, 1997 |
Contrary to its sunny image, the countryside of central Italy in late fall is chilly, even bitterly cold when the wind blows. The sky is pale blue and the landscape is dominated by shades of beige. Driving through Umbria one late November afternoon, I found this dreary picture brightened only by the occasional roadside tree, naked of leaves but so studded with a deep orange, almost golden, fruit that it looked as if it were sprouting hundreds of tiny golden suns.
October 30, 2005 |
Two years ago, Joanne Neft, director of Placer County's Agriculture Marketing Program, was admiring groves of persimmon trees flanking a road in Newcastle when she was struck by the extraordinary amount of fruit being eaten by birds or rotting on the ground. She knew immediately why so much food was going to waste. "We have the fastest-growing county in California," she says, citing the steady march of development north from Sacramento and Roseville.
November 25, 2009 |
The Burbank farmers market, now held in the parking lot next to City Hall, has occupied several locations since its founding in 1983 but has always maintained high standards. It continues to feature many more produce vendors than prepared foods and crafts, 25 of 33 stands. Much of the credit belongs to the longtime manager, Carolyn Hill, who retired in July 2008 but trained her successor, Sarah Dornbos, to continue the market's style. The event provides more than $50,000 yearly to its sponsor, the Providence St. Joseph Medical Foundation, to subsidize medical expenses for needy patients.
November 19, 2010 |
Orange County offers both opportunity and pitfalls for farmers market shoppers. The area's demand for fresh local produce far exceeds the supply, particularly for crops such as stone fruit and apples, and it's difficult for upstate growers to make it through the traffic to O.C. venues. One of the best in the area is the recently revived Newport Beach market. Manager Mark Anderson has made a point of carefully screening his produce vendors to exclude cheaters who might sell produce bought from wholesalers or other farms.
December 17, 1989
As orange-red as a sunset on a blazing hot day, persimmons are one of the holiday season's most colorful and exotic fruits. Said to have been introduced to Western palates by Commodore Matthew Perry after an expedition to Japan in 1855, the Hachiya persimmon is a relative newcomer to the American scene. These persimmons are best eaten when very ripe. Unripened persimmons are astringent and cause the mouth to pucker.
October 25, 1990 |
Most fruit trees are admired for the fruit they bear--and not looked upon for their beauty. One of the prettiest exceptions is the persimmon tree. Persimmons are handsome enough with their large, leathery leaves still intact, but they really begin to shine in fall and winter. After the leaves drop, the deep, glowing orange fruit hangs like a jewel. And now is the time persimmon fanciers can obtain some of those sweet, juicy jewels grown locally.
December 1, 1996 |
Forget predictions of a mild winter by the National Weather Service and The Old Farmer's Almanac. Irene Thomas has stocked up on firewood because the telltale signs she's been watching for most of her 84 years indicate this winter will be a doozy. The only woolly worm she's seen was black as night. The squirrels are bustling about her yard at a frenetic pace. And the first snow of the season came on Oct. 22.
November 18, 2001 |
In late October, I drove up north to visit my daughter and her family in Santa Cruz. After lunching downtown one day, Dinah and I walked over to the Museum of Art and History. She led me to her favorite exhibit, which featured the daily life of Santa Cruz County from earliest times. We ambled through the centuries, dioramas crowded with tools, furniture, clothing, journals and keepsakes of each period.
October 21, 1994 |
Attention, Valley gardeners. The days grow short, the nights are as crisp as fresh-picked apples: It's planting season again. Time to rethink those tired perennial beds, assess last year's garden hits and misses and head for the nursery. But before loading down the van with shrubs and trees that look great on the lot, it pays to take stock of local conditions.
December 10, 2010 |
The traditional Japanese art of making the dried persimmons called hoshigaki is a mind-bogglingly labor-intensive artisanal process. The fruits of the acorn-shaped Hachiya variety are harvested firm, peeled by hand, strung up to dry for a month or so and manually massaged to break up their fibers and keep their flesh soft. If all goes well (and there's a lot that can go wrong), the surface of the finished product is covered with a fine white powdered sugar naturally exuded by the fruit.