Savoring the Seasons: Community, generosity...and cherries!
By MARY MCCLINTOCK
I meet many generous people through writing this column and volunteering in our community. Last week, like every 4th Wednesday of the month, I helped serve one of the Franklin County Community Meal Program’s meals at the Second Congregational Church in Greenfield. I’m one of the Franklin Community Co-op (Green Fields and McCusker’s Market) members who shows up on those Wednesday afternoons with LOTS of food to feed the hungry folks who come to the meal. Most months, I bring fresh local fruit. This month, I bought a flat of strawberries from the Ciesluk Farm Farmstand and they were VERY popular with the dinner guests.
Shel Ball, who works in the kitchen at Eaglebrook School in Deerfield, coordinates our co-op member group. Each 4th Wednesday, Shel arrives at the church with large pans of food Eaglebrook donates to the meal.
Actually, Shel isn’t there every 4th Wednesday. Shel works at a camp in Vermont all summer, so during the summer someone else from our group picks up the food from Eaglebrook. Last week, I drove over and picked it up. Shel, her co-worker Chris Day, and Eaglebrook Executive Chef Charlotte Dewey had frozen prepared food over the past few months and set it aside for the June, July, and August 4th Wednesdays.
At Eaglebrook, Charlotte led me to the big walk-in freezer and pulled out food for this month’s meal. I commented on the large quantities of frozen local strawberries in the freezer. Another member of the kitchen staff, Susan Ferency, helped me carry the food to my car. I asked Susan how they use the strawberries. She said they’re used in smoothies and other dishes, and that they serve lots of locally grown food. Charlotte said, “We work with many farmers in the area and we are growing that number every week. It is a directive from Headmaster Andy Chase, as well as the entire staff and faculty of Eaglebrook to support our local farming community.”
At the church, Second Congregational staff members Madeline LaPlante and Dennis Labrie helped me carry the food into the kitchen. Madeline and I talked about how much we enjoy creating meals for large groups of people.
Last Wednesday, we served dinner to 110 hungry people, from little kids to older folks. That’s the most I ever remember serving ... FCCMP Director Amy Clarke, who managed the kitchen while Sharon Pleasant was on vacation, said there is increased demand at all local food pantries and meal sites.
Hungry people + generosity + tasty food + support for local farmers = a community that cares for everyone. I am so grateful to live here.
Clarkdale Fruit Farm Cherries available at Greenfield Farmers Market. Clarkdale’s first crop of the season — tart cherries and sweet cherries — will be available at Greenfield Farmers Market on Saturday, July 6 from 8 a.m. until they run out. Tart cherries are great for baking and jam. Clarkdale’s farm stand is still closed, so the Farmers Market is the only place to get Clarkdale cherries. Visit www.clarkdalefruitfarms.com to get updates on cherry availability.
This week we’re eating ...
HEALTHY AND DELICIOUS
1/4 C. margarine
1/4 C. brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 C. rolled oats
3/4 C. all-purpose flour
3 T. water
1/2 C. white sugar
2 C. fresh cherries, pitted
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In medium bowl, cream together margarine, brown sugar and vanilla. Stir in oats, flour, and water. Press mixture into 9-inch pie pan. In medium bowl, stir together the cherries and sugar. Pour into crust. Bake in preheated oven for 12 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.
[Note from Mary: For crisper crust, pre-bake crust for 8 before filling. For thicker filling, pre-cook cherry/sugar mixture for several minutes on stove top.
For information about freezing cherries for future pies, visit Meggin Thwing Eastman’s great blog http://happyvalleylocavore.blogspot.com/2013/06/freezing-sour-cherries.html.]