Not That Different After All…

No, this isn't my husband (usually)
No, this isn’t my husband (usually)

I’d say the most unexpected part of marriage was holidays with my husband’s family. After seventeen years, I can still see stark differences. Sometimes the differences are frustrating and aggravating, but examined with a sense of humor, they can be amusing.

Of course, I choose to view life through a lens of humor!

My husband’s mother and one of his brothers (along with his youngest two children) stayed with us for several days. Our Thanksgiving dinner was an eclectic mix of traditional food (my fare) and more ethnic food (compliments of their Greek heritage.)

I am not adventurous in my food, so I didn’t partake of the pastitsio my mother-in-law made. The lamb, noodles, two sticks of butter and aromatic Greek cheeses didn’t appeal to me. My brother-in law made turkey – I was excited for some ‘normal’ food. I didn’t know he would go all Emeril Lagasse on the bird, though. It came out with a strong garlic/citrus taste. My husband said it tasted like the waste from a living organism (well, he didn’t say exactly that, but I’d like to keep this a PG blog.) My assessment was a bit kinder: I ate it. (However, days later, I’m thinking the ice chest the turkey marinated in may never be the same.)

On the flip side, I’m sure my stuffing was bland for their palates. The green beans with onions and bacon were probably a few notches below boring. But they ate it anyway.  My pumpkin pie may have been passable smothered in whipped cream, but I still had leftovers.

Despite out differences in taste, we did manage to agree on one thing: we were thankful to be able to spend the holiday together.

Their early departure indicated there is at least one other thing we agree on: four days is enough family time for one visit.

How long is long enough for family to visit? I’d love to know your response!

Just Peachy

For two weekends in May, Schnepf Farms (Queen Creek, AZ) holds a Peach Festival.  It’s free to get in (I love “free”) so we wanted to go.  (Translation:  I wanted to go and my husband didn’t have the energy to fight it.)  I had my heart set on fresh peaches so I could make peach pies – which I’ve never done before.

It has been three or four years since we’ve been there, but they have orchards/groves where you can pick your own fruit, as well as a General Store where they sell baked goods, like whole peach pies or peach cinnamon rolls.  Sadly, we have never gotten to try the baked goods because the line is always long (wait time between 30 and 45 minutes.)  With two children, this wait feels more like 30 to 45 hours.

Part of the line (it’s amazing how many people fit in an itty bitty store)

We found a tent with samples of all kinds of peach products:  jellies, salsas, sauces, licorice, taffies, butters, gum balls and popcorn.  We moved along the u-shaped display tables like herded cattle, enjoying the shade for as long as we could.

Peach Popcorn
Peach Taffy (older son loved it)

We rode in a trailer pulled by a green tractor to the u-pick orchards.  Unfortunately, the seats were dried bales of hay.  Nice country feel…except when you have allergies.  I sneezed several times, the force of each sneeze pushing away those around me.  I kind of liked the extra space 🙂

Ah-choo! A short hay ride to pick peaches

We finally made it to the orchards.  My husband and I stood and surveyed the rows, trying to figure out which way we should go.  The kids took off running down a row to the right.  We followed.

One row of many…

While the men of the house hunted ripe fruit, I searched for fun peach pictures.  The twenty minutes spent among the trees filled my heart with joy because they all worked in harmony.  Being used to sibling fighting, the absence of it made me want this time to last longer.  The perspiration glistening on every part of exposed skin, and trickling down my face helped me accept that this time of peace would be short-lived.

An hour-and-a-half after we arrived, we left with a small box of peaches, a jar of raspberry preserves, a jar of apple butter and five pouches of yummy dip mixes (a mixture of veggie, garlic and dill.)  My husband asked if he wanted to know how much I spent, and I told him “no.”  It will be my secret that our ‘free’ trip to the farm cost nearly $50.

Sunday morning, after our hike, I kept up my end of the bargain:  I made peach pies.  I took one over to my parents and kept the other one.  My younger son didn’t like it (in his words:  “I like it except for the peaches.  They’re cooked.”)  It’s okay…just leaves more for me and they do go to bed early 🙂

First baked pies….not much to look at, but tasted good!

Do you have local farms or farmers markets that you visit?

Eating In The Rainforest

While in Maui, we took a guided hiking tour of a rain forest.  Being tourists, we brought backpacks loaded with bottles of water, crackers, Band-Aids, bug spray, sunscreen and a camera.  Being an extra nerdy tourist, I had two cameras 🙂

We weaved through branches and over tree roots, we saw amazing plants (more on that in another post) and had the opportunity to dive off two waterfalls into pools of water.  I would have totally jumped, but I had an obligation to take pictures of my husband while he fulfilled his promise to our younger son.  Okay, I’m lying.  I’d never jump.  The camera is simply a convenient cover for my chicken-ness.

Along the way, our guide shared some foods of the forest.  I discovered the one thing I forgot to bring:  produce wash.  I took a chance and ate without washing first.  Funny thing happened; I’m still alive.  (I don’t want to tempt fate; tonight, I washed my strawberries before I ate them.)

First, we tried guavaberries.  Being the adventurous eater that I am, I waited to make sure everyone finished.  I watched their facial expressions and listened for gagging noises.  No one spit anything out, so I tried one.  It wasn’t bad!

I’m not afraid of a guavaberry…maybe just a little bit…

Red Ginger was the next thing on the menu.  Although the guide cautioned that red plants were often poisonous, he assured us the yellow buds on this plant were safe.  Since he ate first, I took his word for it.

Red Ginger:  It’s pretty and the yellow buds taste sorta like chicken, er, make that lemon.

The last goodie on the menu was a kukui nut (I don’t have a picture of that one.)  We learned that these nuts are polished and made into leis.  Doing double-duty, the oily meat of the nut is used as a laxative.  The guide told us that the little bit he gave us wouldn’t do anything….“until we got off the van.”  Well, in that case, why not?

He did leave us with one bit of survival advice:  if you get lost in the forest and have no food, you can test if a plant is edible by rubbing it on your lip and then waiting ten minutes.  If it itches or burns, don’t eat it.  Otherwise, it’s probably safe.

I don’t know about you, but the “probably” didn’t reassure me.

Have you tried any of these?  Have you tried any other plants in the wild?