Tomorrow morning, our Littlest one will be visiting for the day, and we’ll be cooking one of her favorites: Several big fat biscuits to share---cut open steaming from the oven, a good knob of butter laid in to melt its richness all over the insides, then some of the homemade pear preserves I made last Summer. Her biscuit gets just a little drizzle of the clear, sweet syrup, with tiny bits of pear finger-thumbed from her shining steel tray.
Chris and I like the nice rosy hunks of pear enclosed in the poufy biscuit---he lifts his to his mouth and takes a big bite, chewing with enjoyment. I like mine put together like a round little sandwich, then eaten bite by bite with my fork, between nibbles of crispy bacon.
We thought we'd missed out last year, for no one made the trip either up from or down to the pear trees at the old homeplace in Mississippi in the Summer. However, one sunny afternoon, Chris came home with a bushel-and-a-half from where else???
A YARRRRRRRD SAAAAAAALE!!!
He stopped to look around at a house WAY out Highway 74, and didn't see much of anything to buy. He got back in the car and started to pull out into the road, when he saw a huge pear tree, still hanging pretty full, and completely surrounded with a goldy-green moat of fallen pears.
He went back and asked if he could buy some, and they said "Help Yourself---we're glad to get rid of them." And then, for convenience, and just to be polite, he did buy a one-dollar empty bushel basket and a fifty-cent peck.
It took me quite a few hours to peel and cut the bushel---an old sand-pear is the armadillo of the fruit-world---they give no quarter, aren't any good to eat, and will fend off the sharpest knife, until you let down your defenses. THEN will come a slide and a nip and the knife's bitten YOU. Sly, tough old things.
I used quite a generous amount of "Fruit-Fresh" in the water as I peeled and set aside, and they kept the nice pale color of a just-chopped apple. By morning, the mountain of sugar had coaxed a lot of lovely juices out of those hard little pellets of pear, and the hour or so of cooking turned them rosy and chewily-soft, all sweet and the very essence of pear. Kind of a Cuisinical Miracle, I think---something so unyielding and stand-offish, hiding its promise literally under a bushel, then blossoming into the soft sweet rosiness of a new doll's cheek.
Sometimes I think about these old pears when I meet or hear a grumpy or loud or curmudgeonly person---they seem all prickles and stings, with no give to them, turning a hard shoulder and resisting all approaches with surly rebuff, but finding their true selves in the alchemy of sweet warmth.
They just need a good nap and some sweetening to make them rosy and fit to be in any company. I hope I don't ever stop thinking that.