I don’t know much about the moon’s orbital travel around this earth, but I do have a memory when it is the largest, the roundest, and nearest to the touch, and that is in autumn, because I remember the chilled air and the bright skies that are the characteristics of November and the pause before the closing year. I have seen this autumnal moon standing, waiting for the tram at the Getty Museum—on a hillside that surveys the 405 into West LA—being more beautiful than anything in this repository of artistic gold; more eye-catching than its turning garden of concentric plantings, or the antiquities reposed in calculated light.
This resplendent moon has also accompanied me on Newhall Ranch Road after sunset, blocking the mountains of their last display, edging out the retail color at the crossroad of Bouquet Canyon, and setting itself before me, as I drive towards it, dazzling, golden, in fully starched lame [sorry can’t put in accent mark over the e], filling the sky with the shine of a modest sun, before it eventually leaves to join the amassing stars, climbing higher away, getting smaller, loosing its warmth, its orange hue, to eventual white, like a spotlight at the edge of a stage. In the leisurely autumn of southern California that lasts well through December, my eyes are full of orange color, the color of that moon briefly roasting after dusk, the jack o’ lanterns and pumpkins calling forth the goblins and feasters, the exposed flesh of yams dressed in butter and syrup, the orange of the leaves of my parent’s persimmon trees, denuded of its orange fruit, which once weighed down the branches with its honeyed load.
Persimmons have no competition from antipodean delivery or greenhouse residence, and come only once a year and are available briefly. I put the orange of the moon into the palm of my friends’ hands like a gold exchange. Many have to be taught that the Fuyu persimmon can be eaten immediately and fully, skin, seeds and core, one after another. But with the Hachiya, picked while acerbic, one has to bide one’s time until it has the look of approaching decay, speckled brown and loosing its upright structure, before it is sweet enough to eat. We tell them those are the ones connoted in baking recipes. Persimmons in bread or cookies are delicious, lending moisture and their natural sweetness to bulk up these desserts. But its distinctive flavor becomes lost, and ever distant like a rising moon.
I thought as I think about persimmons, I would wax about the moon; but not the moon of the month -in-month- out appearance, or the moon of the darkening night; but the moon of fiery autumn and the afterburn of sunset, particular and odd, haughtily orange. And this would not be the persimmons in recipes baked brown and undistinguished like yielding bananas, but recipes that demand persimmons present proudly their gaudy tint and their flesh like temperate mangoes. I wanted the orange of the harvest moon and persimmons of types, crunchy and gelatinous, sliding fruitfully in a clear cut glass, to drink in their rich color, and taste their accompaniment while very hot or very cold.
Too impatient to wait for the pointy-ended Hachiya to collapse into mush, I waited a week or so for the Fuyus to soften; giving them a squeeze, gently feeling them up like a beauty contest judge at a county fair. Then I took them into my kitchen and improved upon what I had done before, and riffed on new themes, feeling intrepid and crazy as if before a looming moon.
I have a fondness of beauty supplies from the cupboard, and so when I read that sake makers have soft, youthful skin, I have been keeping a bottle on my bathroom counter, to splash on my face before I rub in night cream. I do not know what the results are, but the ritual is relaxing, and since relaxation is good for one’s appearance, from this determination, at least, I hope I appear more attractive.
Fuyu persimmon slice, peeled
1 shot Pure Kizakura Sake
Place persimmon in a shot glass. Pour in sake. Heat in microwave for 20 seconds or less. Take out carefully, glass may be very hot. Sip slowly. Eat persimmon slice last.
Persimmon Smoothie Tea
What I know about tea, I have learned little and surmised much. I imagine that there is a tea belt around the world, in the higher reaches of topography, on slopes rather than flat lands, green leaves that taste different in the early season than they do in late, harvested by knowing hands depending on the dew.I know that tea was born in China and can reside in Sri Lanka. I think that persimmons were developed in that dynastic country but certainly flourish in Moorpark, CA. I have linked the two, like lost cousin in an English novel having a tryst in the British sector of old Nanking.
2 very soft Fuyu persimmons
1 cup brewed green or black tea, still warm is fine
1 tsp. sugar
1 T lemon juice
4-5 ice cubesice to serve
Fuyu persimmon wedge for garnish
Cut persimmon in half. Scrape out pulp including seeds, leaving skin. In a blender add persimmon pulp, tea, sugar, and lemon juice. Add ice. Blend on medium until ice solids have disappeared. Pour over ice. Serve with wedge of persimmon.
I am a bear that hibernates, a fox whose coat blanches, camouflaging itself in the snow; a perennial cut back harshly in anticipation of spring; I am a seasonal creature. When the temperature drops, my impulse turns to the cuisine of Korea. I have never felt the cold clime of Korea or attribute this to traditional matters. But I want to lay a table rich in kim chee and kal bi, just as much as I want to lay the next with oyster dressing and cranberry relish this time of year. Korean food girds my loins before the onslaught of winter.
In found this recipe in the book, Traditional Korean Cuisine that explains sweet punches are served after special occasion dinners as a sweet course. I deviate and drink it hot instead of cold, and by itself, as someone else might knock back a wassail cup while decorating the tree—a mutation I think, that should be customary.
Su-Chung-Gwa(persimmon punch with cinnamon)
5 dried persimmons
2 oz ginger1 oz cinnamon sticks½ cup water1 tablespoon pine nuts 1. Peel ginger skin, and cut into slices
2. Wash cinnamon sticks.
3. Pour water into pot, add ginger and cinnamon sticks. Bring to boil over high heat until liquid is red, discard cinnamon sticks and ginger slices from liquid and add sugar, stir and let cool.
4. Discard core and seeds from dried persimmons, cut in halves and soak in water about 1 hour. Remove and save persimmons.
5. Put persimmons in the liquid 1 hour before serving.
6. Sprinkle with pine nuts.
Fresh Persimmon Punch (My Version)
2 oz ginger peeled and sliced thinly, or roughly enough to fill 1/3 to ½ cup loosely
2 cinnamon quills (sticks)
10 cups filtered water
¼ to ½ cup sugar
5 fresh Fuyu persimmons cut in small dice
In a saucepan place the cinnamon quills and water. With the heel of the knife, smash down each ginger slice before adding to water. If any ginger juice remains on the cutting board, add that to the water. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer. In twenty minutes or so the water will turn reddish. Taste for strength. Continue 5 minutes more if desired. Remove ginger and quills. Add sugar and stir. Taste again, adding more sugar if needed.In a heatproof cup place 1 to 2 tablespoons of minced persimmon. Pour hot punch over fruit. Serve warm. Or if preferred chill punch and add persimmon to each serving as needed.
I have never reached for a bottle of grain alcohol and said to myself, “Ah, yes, perfect for making a bottle of lemoncello.” I am known in my small circle as the best at making lemon drops. I hold this title dearly, and feel no need to manufacture other nearly resembling lemony drinks in advance. Each cocktail I make, I jostle newly.
I found Kyungwoul Green Shoju, a liquor made of sweet potatoes, to be like a shy vodka. I dimly remember that it is lower in alcohol content than most. That does not disqualify itself for me. I want to serve this cocktail to my boyfriend on a tray, as I do all that I make for him, approaching slowly, lowering myself to his seated level, kissing him after his first taste.
Ice cold water
1 pulp of a soft Fuyu persimmon
1 shot Kyungwoul Green Shoju made with sweet potatoes
½ shot Meyer lemon
Prepare test tube shot glass by chilling it with ice cold water. Set aside. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, mix persimmon, Shoju, and Meyer lemon juice until container becomes too painful to hold. Discard ice water in glass. Using a funnel, or a very steady hand, pour contents into prepared glass. Pour any remains into a small shot glass as back-up.
Originally when I made this at Thanksgiving last year, the pulp of the persimmons were not disturbed, leaving the effervescence of the champagne to do all the work. Since then I have found it cruel to challenge sparkling wines to do all the heavy lifting.
I know that somewhere in the world someone is wincing when they see that I sometimes substitute ginger ale. What they do not understand is, that the point is the baubles and bubbles, and the debouchment of fruit.
1/1/2 shot persimmon pulp, chopped on cutting board until near liquid
½ shot peach schnapps
¼ shot Meyer lemon juice
ginger ale or champagne
In a cocktail shaker place, persimmon pulp, schnapps, and Meyer lemon juice with ice. Shake until the container is very cold. Strain and pour contents into a champagne glass. Add ginger ale or champagne to the glass slowly. Let bubbles rise to the top, but pour ginger ale or champagne so that liquid comes only ¾ way up the sides. Add additional ginger ale or champagne to the cocktail shaker, estimated enough to completely fill champagne glass. Swirl around. Strain persimmon/ginger ale/champagne mixture and top the champagne glass. The dark orange color of the persimmon inflected ginger ale or champagne will move down toward the lighter effervesce, creating three moving layers.