We guarded them and hoarded them, but the time arose when we had to part with those last two pears from our serendipitous tree.
Bringing in a pear crop from this newly planted little gem was our most delightful gardening surprise of the summer. We had expected the peaches at last to pour in by the bucketfuls, but we had thought the pears were another year or two in the making.
Not only did we start, some weeks back, spotting pear after pear on its branches, the fruit were amazingly tasty. In an earlier column I mentioned learning to ripen them in a paper bag. The dishes that have been prepared from the pear tree's yield have been fabulous, but now the time arose for the pears' last hurrah.
A wonderful little recipe that I'd clipped from an old Taste of Home magazine brought the solution to how to bake those last pear morsels. The pears were enormous in size, so even though the recipe called for about six medium ones, cutting up the two I had remaining easily produced four cups chopped, peeled, ripe pears that the recipe specified.
The cinnamony kitchen smells that emerged when I prepared those Pecan-Pear Muffins brought in a hint of fall (even as tenaciously as we're trying to hold on to summer) and a reminder that the dishes of this current season ultimately will give way to harvest-themed treats such as baked apples and pumpkin everything.
But in the meantime, thank-yous were in order for the Little Pear Tree That Could, with visions of summer 2011 that might even bring more and more.
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar (I use sugar substitute)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt (I use salt substitute)
2 eggs (I use egg substitute)
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups chopped peeled ripe pears (about 6 medium)
1 cup chopped pecans
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In another bowl combine the eggs, oil, and vanilla; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in the pears and pecans. Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick emerges clean. Cool for 5 minutes before you remove from pans to wire racks. Makes about 2 dozen.