Home-grown Miracles: See, Taste, Touch









Reader, in your hand you hold

A silver case, a box of gold.

I have no door, however small,

Unless you pierce my tender wall,

And there’s no skill in healing then

Shall ever make me whole again.

Show pity, Reader, for my plight:

Let be, or else consume me quite.

– Jay MacPherson

All poems from Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: Poems About Small Things, selected by Myra Cohn Livingston, HarperCollins, 1994.

*  *  *

Barbara Kingsolver, author of several New York Times best-sellers including The Poisonwood Bible, published her first work of non-fiction, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food in 2007, which makes the case for eating local. Here is an excerpt from the book:

“This is the story of a year in which we made every attempt to feed ourselves animals and vegetables whose provenance we really knew . . . and of how our family was changed by our first year of deliberately eating food produced from the same place where we worked, went to school, loved our neighbors, drank the water, and breathed the air.”

The blurb from GoodReads website entices to read more:

Hang on for the ride: With characteristic poetry and pluck, Barbara Kingsolver and her family sweep readers along on their journey away from the industrial-food pipeline to a rural life in which they vow to buy only food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it. Their good-humored search yields surprising discoveries about turkey sex life and overly zealous zucchini plants, en route to a food culture that’s better for the neighborhood and also better on the table.

Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle makes a passionate case for putting the kitchen back at the center of family life and diversified farms at the center of the American diet.

Depending on where you live, you are enjoying some fresh fruits, vegetables, or flowers this time of year. 

What appeals to your senses right now?


33 thoughts on “Home-grown Miracles: See, Taste, Touch

  1. Good morning, Marian! The photo of the strawberries made me salivate. Some of the local farms now have strawberries, but it’s been a difficult year for farmers. One Facebook friend had posted info about the strawberries at her parents’ farm, but then a couple days later she said the crop been destroyed by a hailstorm (which we didn’t get).
    Pablo Neruda wrote several food poems. I read some (in English) while researching my food book.


    1. I love those strawberries and the silly, cute poem. So sorry about the destroyed strawberries. Imagine all that tending brought to naught. Farming is such a gamble.

      We just returned from what my Dad would call a “wild goose chase.” Early this morning, we packed my daughter and grandkids + their gear into our car for blueberry picking. Alas, I didn’t get the message that the berries are not yet ripe, so we’ll have to wait until next week. But it’s a delay—not destruction, two very different things. Our consolation: Breakfast together at Cracker Barrel.

      Thanks for the link to the Neruda poems. I posted his poem about tomatoes “Ode to Tomatoes”on my post about the tomato patch last year: https://plainandfancygirl.com/2013/09/04/ode-to-the-tomato/ But I’ll check on his other veggies with your link. Thanks for adding to our store of knowledge, Merril.


      1. I used to take our girls to pick blueberries–not ripe here until July/August. Too bad the timing was off, but I’m sure the breakfast consolation prize was fun, too!

        I will check out your post on tomatoes!


  2. You’re in Florida, I’m thinking, well, Marian would have had fresh strawberries already in February, no? We’re in the thick of them right now and while mine are not as pretty as those in your basket, they are fresh, nutritious, and I’m planning to make a fresh strawberry pie later this morning. We have radishes, lettuce, onions, spinach: I am so thankful for a crop of spinach this year! After have maybe all of 3 or 4 leaves show up out of my longstanding choice of seed for several years in a row (Bloomsdale spinach), I switched last year to Tyee Hybrid; still no luck. Now this year I planted Tyee Hybrid again but we were able to add a load of horse manure to our garden so maybe that is making the difference?? And I love the Barbara Kingsolver book on cooking a year through the season: it was quite revealing and mind-changing to me.


    1. Living in north Florida, early strawberries come here from cities down state like Immokalee or Plant City in February. Ours are later. (You may want to check my earlier comment about our premature blueberry picking excursion this morning!)

      Kudos to you for your garden crops, especially the Bloomsdale spinach, which sounds ultra-nutritious. My Dad was a firm believer in horse manure too. In one of his last visits to Jacksonville, he had a load delivered to my sister’s garden so she could “grow decent vegetables,” he said. Our sandy soil is great for citrus, but needs doctoring up for most everything else. I’m glad you enjoy Barbara Kingsolver, always on the cutting edge. Thanks, Melodie.


  3. I’ve been meaning to read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Thanks for the reminder! We’ve enjoyed a few radishes from the garden and I’ll be snipping baby lettuce in the next couple of days. Hoping to take a day trip in a few weeks to the Okanagan Valley to get strawberries and raspberries to make jam with. I love spring and the anticipation of good things to come!


    1. Linda, after you make the salad or the jam, you can sit on your patio and read another chapter from the Kingsolver book. Yes? Sounds like a good combination to me. I wonder if you ever mix the strawberries and raspberries in the jam or if you (like most people) keep them separate–hmmm. I know rhubarb goes well with strawberries, but it’s probably too early for that.

      I think we are especially enjoying spring this year after such a harsh winter. Enjoy all that gardening, canning, and reading–it sounds like retirement is really agreeing with you, Linda.


    1. Neruda wrote several odes to various culinary delights including the tomato, salt, onion, lemon, artichoke, chestnuts, maize, and wine, but I don’t see asparagus listed in his oeuvre. Here is the link to these though: http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/pablo_neruda/poems

      Mary, I am sure you can wax poetic and write “Ode to Asparagus” in Neruda’s style or better yet, your own! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Hope the book launch is going well. I’m following your progress on Facebook.


  4. In August last year my wife and I went to dinner at Linnn’s of Cambria (Cambria, CA). Since we were early and the restaurant portion was not seating yet I decided to get a cup of coffee from the bakery counter. After looking at their bakery goods I spied a little pie on a shelf inside the glass case. The treat looked like it had a fruit filling. Well. I decided, why not have dessert before my main meal. I picked up a Olallieberry petite pie. It was a hybrid berry which had the taste of both blackberries and raspberries. Sitting with a robust cup of coffee in hand, the late afternoon California sun slanting through the windows onto the round oak table, and savoring the newly discovered sweet delight was memorable. My only regret was I didn’t order a second one!


    1. I must have been out and about snapping photos then. In fact, I remember wanting to catch the sun setting on the Pacific. Don’t remember the olallieberry pie at all: different priorities, I guess–ha!


  5. Strawberries! Love that poem and it’s so correct. I probably got more in me than arrived home when we picked wild strawberries when I lived in the country. The poems were delicious and delightful. Thank you for sharing, Marian.


    1. Whatever was fresh, we had a lot of in the summer time, Judy. I remember once when we were “doing up” peas fresh from the garden, Mom cooked a whole pot and that was our supper. With butter, they tasted so good.

      Soon our bellies will be full of blueberries, we hope! It’s so nice to visit each other’s posts today.


  6. I love these poems and illustrations, Marian! You have such a great eye and ear.

    I once got hives from eating too many fresh strawberries in our patch at the Home Place. I’ve tried to be more moderate in my passions since then. Love garden-fresh food. But so far, we have not planted our own, choosing to support the local farmers whenever possible instead.


  7. Supporting local farmers is a noble cause, I’d say, especially when you are on your Tour-a-Pa-Looza, or whatever you are calling it. I saw you recently posing with Miranda Beverly-Whittmore on Facebook and remember your supporting her work before she became such a sensation. (When I saw a full-page promoting her in People magazine, I knew she had “made” it!)

    If prizes were awarded to mentors, you’d be first in line in my books. Thanks for taking the time to visit my home-grown post today, Shirley. And go easy on the strawberries!


  8. Marian – I thoroughly enjoyed your photo and poem pairings.

    We eat local whenever and wherever we can. Today we bought a locally grown watermelon (seedless and organic) at the co-op, and are looking forward to diving into it for dessert this evening! We also bought an enormous locally grown, organic beefsteak tomato for slicing and adding to the grilled hamburgers we’re making for dinner.


    1. Thanks for some mouth-watering commentary, Laurie. You two have a long history of good nutrition as I can tell from your blog and other writings.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the pairings. It was a kick putting it all together. “Beefsteak” tomatoes and grilled hamburgers sound like a winning pair too.


  9. Great pictures! I love the berries; yesterday had fresh strawberries with whipped cream. They were so good. I went Saturday to our farmers market to get fresh fruit for Tuesday morning prayer group. The women love the fruit and yogurt. Or fruit with angel food cake. I always have fruit or veggies to serve. Will share your blog this Tuesday with the girls.


    1. Oh, Gloria, I know how much you enjoy preparing (and eating!) good food. As you know, a good way to encourage people to share their feelings is around food. Thank you for sharing this post with your Tuesday prayer group. Let me know how it goes, God bless you as you share your victorious story about God’s grace to you.


  10. Our two garden crops right now are rhubarb and asparagus. We’ve pulled at least 50 pounds of rhubarb and 30 of asparagus. The asparagus is just about done. We eat most of it broiled with olive oil and salt. We did add cut pieces to our shish kabob skewers on Memorial Day and they were very good that way. I package up the trimmed ends to make cream soup in the colder months.

    I saw the grocer was selling rhubarb for 4.99/pound! We sell our extra at our farmstand but much more reasonably. So far I’ve made upside down cake, torte with a meringue topping, muffins, sauce, and 2 pies. I will put enough into the freezer for six each pies and crisps. We still have much more to pull.


    1. I admire your home-grown approach to making and preserving food. We probably would all want to join you around your table. There is no substitute for home-grown and home-made, and I can see you prepare the bounty the healthy way too.

      One of my earliest memories with food was Grandma pulling rhubarb from the patch and making a pudding. It smelled so wonderful simmering on the stove.

      Thanks for adding to the conversation, Athanasia!


        1. I just talked to Mother, and here is what she says: Well, it’s really not a pudding; it’s more like a sauce. First, soak the rhubarb stalks in water to take out some of the sourness. Then cut stalks into little chunks and bring rhubarb and water to a boil.

          Add sugar and a little bit of tapioca to thicken and sweeten it. Mom doesn’t use a recipe – just her imagination, which is what I’ll leave you with!

          Thanks for asking. I got a chance to get another summer recipe into the file.


  11. These are deliciously fun, Marian! My favorite is “…the solution is not to solve the problem until you are full of answers…” Makes me want to buy another pint of strawberries…NOW!


    1. I love that poem, and when I saw it I knew I had to use it sometime in this blog. Now seemed to be a good time. Emphasis on the word NOW! I imagine strawberries are fresh where you live this time of year.

      Probably our grand-children will be “full of answers” when we take them to the blueberry farm next weekend. Ha!


  12. Those red strawberries look good. I used to go with my Mom and grandparents to pick them and the sweetest ones were still warm from the sun. Sadly, the closest berry patch to here has been flattened to build more houses so Little Guy has never tasted these dainties picked with his own hands. 😦


    1. Fond memories to cherish, but sorry to hear about the buried berry patch. I hate it when development takes over. Plants suffer, animals life is pushed back, and water supply becomes more strained. If it sounds like a rant, well it is! Maybe you and Little Guy will have to plant your own berry patch. Thanks for adding your thoughts, Jenn.


  13. Thanks for this Marian – a delight! Avocados are in season now, the fruit of the gods. I try to eat seasonal fruits and veg, though we are sometimes hampered by extreme weather conditions.


    1. Right now in Florida blueberries (which we will pick tomorrow) are in season. Also, I have an avocado on my kitchen counter ready for a fresh salad today. Avocados are “good” fats, the doctors say, and satiate the appetite. I’m all for that, and I’m sure you are too, Susan.


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