Eight dollars of apples, bruised up fallen ones plucked right off the ground made a whole mess of food.  Four quarts of sauce, 3 quarts of vinager, 2 pies and a lot of easy snacking.  In some orchards, this time of year, you can get bushels for next to nothing if you look down instead of up.  This has been our thing these past few years.  Before the frost comes and before the slugs take ’em over we barge in and clean up the lot of them.


I made my vinegar from wild fermentation, by the fermenting guru, Sandor Katz.  If you don’t have this, you should sprint to your library, like now.  The cider is so easy, and massively rewarding.  I roasted the apples whole (a mixture of grimes golden, macintosh, and hewes) until fork tender and just sent them through a food mill to make the sauce, what was leftover, the apple carcass as we were calling them, was used to make the apple cider vinegar.  Amongst all the other amazing things you can do with apple cider vinegar I have been rinsing my hair in it and I can promise you, nothing on the market compares.  I typically have straw for hair, and with just a little bit of this magic fall scented liquid it transforms into something a Disney princess would envy.  I promise.  Oh these apples went a long way, I even froze a few pies this year!  And I will tell you a secret, the last pie that came out of the oven had a layer of almond paste over the bottom crust and oh my, oh my, this one would knock your boots off.


Apples galore!  What have you been doing with the apples in your neighborhood?

this view, and a recipe for blueberry butter

Turns out we picked the most beautiful place in the world to call home.  Early in the morning it is these sites that get me.

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Mid day, I can hardly bare to look, because what I see feels like make-believe.  

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And by the afternoon, those beautiful fields are giving us the most amazing foods to dine on.  (The ice cream in the making, is honey thyme and I have to thank my dad for that one!  He sent a weary pregnant woman an ice cream maker…  Isn’t he a stellar man??)

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Yesterday I processed about 10 cups of blueberries into blueberry butter.  It was simple and lovely and it tastes like blueberry pie in a jar.  You take the 10 cups of berries, mash them thoroughly, either with a ladle as I did, or in the food processor, probably more efficient….  Cook them on low for 3 hours or so, as low as your stove can go, stirring occasionally.  Add in two cups of sugar, a big dash of cinnamon, a fine grating of nutmeg, and the zest and juice of a lemon.  Continue to cook for one more hour, stirring every ten minutes or so.  Jar em up as you would jar anything.  Share with your neighbors, the gifts will come back ten fold, spread on some home-made toast with mascarpone, or my personal favorite, wait until a snowy day in february and take a big spoonful of summer.

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both ends of the spectrum

It only felt odd when I started to really think about it.  His ankles were crossed casually, wings tucked under with such innocence.  I pulled out the warm innards, noting each part; liver, lungs, heart, intestines, esophagus.  I cracked the legs off with such ease, only having to slice away the elastic skin to free the yellow curled up claw.  The smell of scalding chicken lingered in my nose, not to be forgotten for some days I can imagine.  Feathers were glued to my apron covered round belly.


Slaughtering and processing your own chickens shouldn’t feel all that different from gutting a fish, and truthfully it doesn’t, though the stigma and response changes.  There is more blood, there is more noise (occasionally), and there is certainly more work, but all in all it is quick and efficient and it feels right to be the ones getting your hands dirty for your own nourishment.  The boys stayed busy making paper mache while the actual killing went down, and then for the cleaning, it was a science lesson to say the least.  Questions, mostly about the amount of blood, or lack of head, were asked over and over again.  A few apologies to the chickens were tossed out there, sweetly and gracefully.  We never hid that this was going to happen.  We said a simple blessing before it all began, the boys participating with such intensity.  But once the sight was seen they honestly hardly reacted at all.  I suppose they normally don’t when I expect otherwise.  These normal things, these real, everyday life things do not phase them.  Life and death are as normal as breakfast and supper to a being that is new to this world.

So, I froze all the meat, thinking it would be a few days before I felt the inclination to cook our feathered friends.  But, I could stomach a nice fresh stock.  With all this lovely produce and all these refreshing herbs coming off our hill, it only made sense.  The largest pot I own simmered those carcasses all afternoon, allowing us to savor every last bit of the boys just learning to cock a doodle.  I fried dumplings, vegetable dumplings stuffed with goat cheese, and finished them in a ladle full of the stock still rolling.

While the chickens were on our mind prior to the d-day, we had lots to distract us over this long weekend.  A party with friends both new and old to celebrate this country’s birthday kept us busy and smiling for all the days before.  Kids were every where you looked, rolling down hills, cruising on bikes, munching on macaroons.  Adults were having some laughs and drinks and hoping their kids weren’t the ones hollering at the  moment.  Though we all had our turn in time.. That is just the way it works.  Sparklers and fountains ended the nights festivities, before the little ones in the crowd could  even melt down.  It was perfection.


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A weekend as full as one could imagine.  Mindful appreciation, on both ends of the spectrum.

the hill

There seems to be little reason to leave this “hill” lately.  Truly we have just what we need right around us.  Sometimes I can’t help but think this is how it should be.  Milk for butter, yogurt and guzzling is provided on one side, and with that sensibly enough, beef too; And vegetables plentiful enough to store for the entire year on the other side of us.  It is an event each Wednesday when we pick up the CSA, which by the way makes my vegetable garden pale in comparison (oh how much I have to learn!), loading up the wagon, strapping on Miles’ helmet, leashing up the crazy twelve pound mutt and making our way to the red barn down the way.  Since our field has been hayed very recently we can make the trek down to the farm through our pasture, looping back around to check the mail afterwards and when needed getting our milk too.  This way we get to observe the vegetables growing and farmers tending and the cows grazing that inspire us so.  These farmers truly are some of the hardest workers I have seen.  Yesterday we received beets, kale, red and green lettuce heads, early, small, summer squash and petite, adorable, zucchini.  Proof that their work is not in vain, as just up the hill from them our squash plants haven’t even flowered yet.  The price is right too, I must add.  And while I realize the cost of purchasing a CSA share does vary from one area to the next, from my experience it is financially (and sustainably and conveniently and deliciously) the way to go.  It isn’t hard to see if the farmers have any seconds they would be willing to give at a discounted price for your canning needs either.  This has been a pleasant past time for us, and I believe if this third baby in our life doesn’t completely consume us (as in a stick a fork in me, I’m done kind of way), I can see this year being quite the same.

IMG_2044  While surely driving too much is something you must be conscious of when living in a rural area, there are so many ways we can live in this world in a cohesive way.  Whether you reside in a city or out here in the sticks there are always options.  It is hard not to feel the tug of obligation.  

apple seed and apple core

Turns out right outside my window is a view of the most magical apple orchard I have set my two feet upon.  Thirty varieties of crispy red globes of goodness a stones throw away.  You can believe I am gathering as many of them as I can get my hands on.


Amongst others you know…


We are making our sauce from the hew variety this year.  Roasting whole and coring and peeling with a food mill.  Then vanilla beans, cinnamon and nutmeg added in with a squeeze of lemon for color and I believe we will be scooping the good stuff for many months to come.  It amazes me how happy I am when I pop open a jar of home-made applesauce in February.  The smell of that fall day, the sun shining on my forehead as I look up my ladder, the feel of the cool sweet grass on my bare toes, it just comes back.  Beats a bottle of Motts, to say the very, very least.


Apple trees, being cared for well into their old age… as the proud owner of this orchard says, “It is a testament to the way we should treat our elderly…”.  It’s hard to see in the picture but the trunk is completely caved in.  It is a rotted half moon of a stump.  Then growing right out of the center at the top is a very healthy and producing apple tree, only needing help buy a y-shaped branch to hold it up.  Pretty amazing.


Any good stuff being put in your jars lately?