I was chatting with someone local recently, talking about our plans for apple picking later in the week. "You know," she said, knowing us as she did, "there's an orchard not five miles away from you and they do not spray their apples." Oh really? Hmn. Well, perhaps we will try that out someday (and maybe, possibly, someday, our own 'orchard' will grow enough for us!), but goodness we are deep in our tradition and ritual and the mere suggestion of changing it brings family revolt like you cannot imagine! And so we find ourselves venturing each year to Ricker Hill, not all that far away really. Enough of a drive to build some excitement and anticipation, that's for sure. For the jug of apple cider and dozen cider donuts I buy at the bottom of the hill before making the journey to the top of the hill for the organic picking. It hasn't been a great year for apples here in Maine, which we are well aware of. Our own trees produced just a few, and the old trees we've been nurturing here and feed the pigs with each autumn, are low in quantity, indeed. So dry, so hot, so little water we had all summer. But! The experts up there at Ricker (8th generation, I do believe), have plenty and we enjoyed the picking, the donuts (well, some of us), and the cider. And as always, a stop at Nezinscot Farm for lunch, where I could sneak away and admire some fiber while we waited for our delicious farm lunch (if you're ever in that neck of the woods, do stop by - you'll be so glad!).
And then home, to a busy weekend that leads into a busy week ahead. The Common Ground Country Fair is ahead! In the past five years it has shifted (for me) from a lovely day of celebration of the harvest season and community, to a lovely week of celebration and work and commmunity, in such a busy season of home life! I find myself scrambling to harvest everything I can right now, always worried (rightfully so) that a frost will come while I'm away. It does look possible in the forecast. And so it is that I find so many big, round, red and delicious things in the kitchen from morning till night. Tomatoes and apples, mostly. I've got no more time for fancy apple butter or salsa...instead it is simple passata in the oven then quickly pressure-canned, or apples cut in quarters, cooked down, run through the mill by whomever is walking by that I can coerce into such a task, and then steam-canned for applesauce. It's Get Serious time in the kitchen, my friends.
Since we're talking kitchens and food, I wanted to say thank you for your kind words and helpful tips last week when I mentioned the newly discovered presence of celiac in our family. It is I with the diagnosis, though I have my suspicions about one or two littles that only the blood test will confirm soon enough. It has, indeed, been a sudden change, but truly if one were to go gluten-free suddenly, I would highly suggest you do so in the month of September when the garden bounty is so plentiful that all you want to do is eat fresh and delicious vegetables anyway (with a side of protein, thanks to that slowly-filling freezer)! I haven't missed a thing yet, and am only enormously glad for feeling 'better'. Forget those apple cider donuts (pretty though they may be), a happy body is more than a fair trade-off. (Though I will tell you that when friends delivered me a beautiful cake from Bam Bam, a gluten-free bakery, I was overjoyed with that taste!) Since Mama is mostly the cook, it seems we've all suddenly adopted a gluten-free diet which has really been just fine. Again, September spoils us. I do wonder how February will be, and what will fill the void of chicken soup with dumplings, but thanks to all of you, I have a whole list of references and resources to begin looking at when I'm ready to start 'replacing' that gluten. Truly, thank you. And yes, though it is all new to us, I will surely take you along the journey if I learn anything useful or helpful along the way.
And now...there is a cup of black tea and a steaming bowl of applesauce waiting for my breakfast before this full and wonderful September day begins, with plenty more apple and tomato preserving to fit into the pockets of our day.
As always, I wish you and yours a wonderful start to your week!