Monday, November 24, 2014

Lessons From A Friend

My friend Carla showed up on our doorstep yesterday with a heavy head cold, a nasal twang to her normally clear voice, and a brown paper bag of persimmons. Her daughter's tree is loaded with fruit this year and Carla is helping her daughter recover from a replaced ACL by caring for her two lively young children, ages roughly 7 and 4. You can tell just from that description that Carla is an angel.

But she's also a community organizer, the first in our neighborhood to see the need for Neighborhood Watch and to get the ball rolling. She also spearheaded the training of block captains to be volunteer coordinators in case of a big earthquake. 

Carla taught biology to high schools students and swimming to beginners of all ages; Carla is Capable, with a capital C. 

She's also as pretty as a picture, delightfully scatterbrained, and an animal lover from 'way back. We swam together in the RPM group (Richmond Plunge Masters) for a couple of years until a shoulder injury got her out of the pool, but she continues to enjoy kayaking and walking her two big dogs for exercise.

How did I get to the ripe old age of 67 without ever tasting a persimmon? Another of life's little mysteries, I guess. Anyway, I had first tried them at 4 to 9, our delightful local wine bar/restaurant in a killer appetizer that My Beloved and I shared, a combination of persimmons, prosciutto, and very mild goat cheese. So, when Carla gave me that bag of fruit, handing it over gingerly and trying not to transfer any cold germs along with it, I was delighted.

I immediately went to to scan the recipes, thinking that I'd make persimmon bread, but my eye fell on a recipe for lamb chops with fresh persimmon chutney and stopped right there.

What you see in the photo above is the chutney. My Beloved and I would call it a salsa rather than chutney, the term chutney to us meaning something cooked and sweet and somewhat heavy. This topping was a delightfully light mix of persimmons, sweet onion (I used red onion), jalapeño pepper, grated ginger, and lime juice, as pretty and festive as confetti at New Year's and full of well-matched and balanced flavors.

Making it was as easy as finely chopping the onion, persimmons, and jalapeño, and mixing them in a bowl with the ginger and lime juice. It was deeply savory and sweet with a mild gingery bite, a hum of heat from the jalapeño, and a refreshing zing from the lime juice. (I, being a spice wimp, used half as much jalapeño as the recipe called for, but next time I'd go for broke with the whole pepper). It complemented our lamb beautifully, and I will save the leftovers to try with pork, as I'm sure it would be marvelous with that, too. Or even chicken.

Next time a friend gifts you with persimmons, or you see nice ones in the store, grab 'em and go! At this time of year, when citrus is only just beginning locally and apples are the only other fruit, persimmons are a treat to be relished. 

Turns out, you can learn something important and new even at my advanced age. Thank you, Carla!


Blogger nancy namaste said...

You can make cake - see link on my blog!

Friday, November 28, 2014  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Will do, thanks, Nancy.

Saturday, November 29, 2014  

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