Fall Treasures

Fall is the season that most reminds me why I love living in California so much. The days are still warm, the markets are still loaded with summer favorites (eggplants, tomatoes, zucchini), right up next to the cool-weather crops that are just starting to emerge. I get lost in still believing its summer, until BAM! – daylight savings. As the long hours of evening darkness descend, I do my best to embrace it instead of feeling sad that my daylight play hours are getting cut short. This year, a surprising figure aided in my transition to recovery: the persimmon.

A few Saturdays ago, I walked past a house downtown with a loaded persimmon tree. A woman had set up a table with a wheelbarrow full of Hachiya persimmons next to her, selling them 3/$1.oo. I picked out three, and she told me not to eat them until they were completely softened  (Fuyu, another variety, should be eaten when its relatively hard). For a week, I checked them every day for texture. And then finally- the first was soft! I  put it in the refrigerator, and that afternoon I timidly sunk my teeth in… and was completely blown away by the explosion of flavor in my mouth! Cold refreshing sweetness, no mushy grainy-ness, just pure juice.  And ever since, my heart lifts a bit every time I see a persimmon.

Santa Barbara has many wonders, but I am constantly surprised by the number of what I would have previously thought of as “exotic” or at the very least, somewhat rare, fruits and vegetables that are grown here. Citrus, avocado, passion fruit, persimmons, and… pineapple guavas! Somehow the pineapple guava (also known as  Feijoa) made its  way into “ornamental plant”  category, as there are bushes all over town lately dropping fruit, free for the taking.  The flowers are stunning (and edible!!), and the fruit is both sweet and tart. We do actually have a bush in our yard – last year we had a great harvest, and this year for some reason we  got zero!

Last, but not least… this past weekend Matt and I hosted our neighborhood’s monthly garden exchange. There is usually at least one exchange going every weekend, somewhere in the city. People come with anything from their garden – vegetables, fruit, succulent clippings, flowers, herbs, eggs, etc – and then take whatever they like from the accumulated pile. Kind of like a mini-farmer’s market. We had a great turnout – probably around 30 people! We had a worm bin demo, and  Oscar of Healing Grounds plant nursery brought a ton of vegetable starts. I  made to-die-for carrot cake  (recipe disclosure pending), and our exchange table was pretty loaded for being November!

There are still a few plants from the summer hanging around our garden, but we’ve mostly transitioned into cool weather stuff –  lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, bok choy, cilantro, kale, strawberries, celery, cauliflower, onions, potatoes, beets, carrots…They’re still small,  so there isn’t a huge harvest going on. But there’s enough to keep the creativity going, and to keep me excited for the winter months to come…