Wednesday, October 12, 2011

In which we do Harvest Suppers

I don't think that I could have ever described my mother as parsimonious; in many ways she was a most generous person who enjoyed her share of the finer things in life - but she was from Yorkshire and the product of a tough upbringing in the post World War I slump. Education took her away from the drudgery and toil of a scrubby small farm on the outskirts of a manufacturing town. She worked and worked to earn whatever came her way,  money that key to comfort, was too hard-won by to be lightly thrown away. The phrase 'if I do owt for nowt, I do it for m'sen' was unspoken but pretty close to the truth.

It must then have been a source of some relief to her (again unspoken) that the date of the Harvest Festival service in the parish church of Wroxton St Mary in 1975 was Sunday October 5th.

Why would this be? The date of my wedding was Saturday the 4th and the church would be bedecked with a sumptuous array of autumn goodness - carrots, chrysanths and cabbage, turnips, spuds and mega-marrows - for the service on the following day. There would be no need for wedding flowers. I would walk down the aisle to seasonal munificence. My bridesmaid and I would be permitted a small posy apiece however. I chose white freesias - though now think I would perhaps have enjoyed a walk down the aisle with a bouquet of various herbs.

I remember those massed carrots and turnips as well as I remember the service itself - the abundant veg and the burnished wood of the medieval rood screen we stood nervously in front of. The smell was wonderful  too of course - this was a marriage made in a greengrocers shop with overtones of beeswax polish.
Fast forward - 36 years down the line and my thoughts go back to that harvest festival (glossing over the suburban years in between where harvest gifts were tins of soup and beans). While we remember it's our wedding anniversary we're also well aware that this is the Harvest Festival season in these parts. Each village holds it's own -  a service followed by a meal and an auction of goods; the good Lord is thanked, the belly filled and with the auctioneer's encouragement our purses opened and emptied.

A good auctioneer makes all the difference  - after years of experience at the the local lifestock mart, Carl at Marton and Malcolm up here in Trelystan can give the professionals a run for their money and their audience a laugh or two.

Such a mountain of produce to buy - and we come home from each Supper with fresh fruit and vegetables.

Back home we sit and look at our haul - we have potatoes and mighty onions, carrots, honey and lemon curd.

What to do with that bag of pears though? They're hard as the proverbial hobs of hell. Neither of us are particularly inclined to munch away at them. 

Let's experiment -  chicken drumsticks and a dab of butter on a bed of peeled and cored pears. Go to the back of the fridge and unearth the jar of maple syrup (which really does need eating up soonish). A slosh or a drool of that, season with salt and black pepper and into the oven it goes.

Have to admit it tasted pretty good with sweet corn and green beans - and as there are still plenty of pears left it's something we'll be eating again. 


Twiglet said...

Delicious chicken and pears I think!!! Many happy returns for last week. x Jo

Kirsty.a said...

Happy anniversary. Lovely post. I can just imgine you walking down the aisle bedecked wth harvest bounty

Exam Crisis said...

I made pear vodka with mine. Added a touch of cinnamon for the festive feel xx

Cro Magnon said...

Most pears don't ripen on the tree, you have to keep them for a while (just keep checking).

How very clever of you to chose that day. I can think of nothing nicer.

Pondside said...

Happy Anniversary! Your harvest supper sounded like a lot of fun - but your description of your wedding scene put me right there.

Frances said...

I wish you a very happy anniversary, and thank you for your tale of harvest time then and now.

I like your chicken with pears recipe, too, and might try some sort of variation myself. No maple syrup in the back of my fridge, so I might just some brown sugar.

It's getting to the time of year when it's a pleasure to use the oven.

Best wishes!

Kitty said...

Oooh yum, that looks good. We've had a mountain of pears here too, I managed to swap some for apples and damsons (a very good swap) and the rest have been made into crumbles with apples or poached and frozen for puds throughout the winter.

elizabethm said...

I love that chicken and pear recipe. Having had a small pear mountain here the last one is sitting in the fruit bowl. Some were bottled in spiced syrup while still hard and some, as Cro says, ripened gently inside. I love harvest festival. What a great time for a wedding.

Friko said...

What an excellent idea; do you think it would work with chicken thighs? I'm sure it would, the pears could soak up some of the fat fro the thighs.

Thanks for the idea.

Happy Anniversary, hope you had a grand old time.