A Good Home, Apple Pies, Dried Herbs, Farmhouse Kitchen, Garden, Harvest, Herbs

A Messy Kitchen in the Autumn

Life happens in our kitchen. Every day.

Which means it’s always clean but often a mess. 

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Blog Photo - Kitchen messy friend smiles

Our human friends like to hang out there and share their stories.

Dog friends like to sleep there and sometimes snore.

Blog Photo - Kitchen Dog Sleeps

In the autumn, potted plants move in from the verandah.

Blog Photo - Kitchen plants on window sill

English ivy sits on the window sill, Scotch Bonnet pepper sits on the floor.

Blog Photo - Kitchen Pepper Plant

Within a couple weeks, we’ll get dozens of ripe peppers….

Blog Photo - Kitchen Pepper CU

Blog Photo - Kitchen Ripe Pepper

… which we’ll give to relatives and  friends. (I’m not a hot-pepper person, despite my Caribbean origins.)

Some days the whole kitchen smells of apples, cinnamon and other ingredients for pies….

Blog Photo - Kitchen Apple slices

Blog Photo - Kitchen Seasonings for Pie

…which DO include a tip of Jamaican rum, yes, and maple syrup too, since we’re a Jamaican-Canadian family.

Blog Photo - Kitchen Pies on Table

Earlier, it was the fragrance of apple and mint jellies –

Blog Photo - Jelly Jars many

And as you can see, they’re still on the kitchen table — recent events having overtaken us…

Blog Photo - Kitchen harvest table

Some days, the kitchen smells of herbs drying on a tray. Parsley, basil, rosemary and thyme.

Blog Photo - Kitchen herbs drying

Blog Photo - Kitchen garlic in pot

And onions and garlic, fresh from the garden….

You’d think the kitchen is the only room in our old house.

It’s a wonder we don’t sleep there as well…

HAPPY HARVEST, EVERYONE (except for friends in S. Africa, New Zealand and Australia…. who for some strange reason are now planting their gardens and welcoming the springtime).

A Good Home

A cup of tea and a slice of Lady Cynthia cake

Thanks to Marilyn at Simply Splendid Victorian Afternoon Teas for this recipe for a wonderful apple cake. It’s been enjoyed by many over the past year.

And what a privilege to have a cake named for me.

Enjoy!

Simply Splendid Victorian Afternoon Teas & Events

The apple crop is bountiful this autumn.

Green grocers, famers markets and supermarkets are awash in local apple displays.
Aha!
This situation calls for afternoon tea with an apple. We did just that. Yesterday.

agoodhome_cynthiareyesToday we are far more adventuresome with apples. After a quick consultation with broadcaster, author and fellow blogger Cynthia Reyes about apples and how to cook, can and consume them, we have decided to adapt one of Cynthia’s recipes for an apple cake. 

You will recall from earlier bogs that Cynthia is the author of A Good Home, a very good home indeed which boast a couple of heritage apple trees.

As we’ve toyed considerably with the recipe, we have re-christened it Lady Cynthia Cake.

Lady Cynthia cake w trimmings

200 grams unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup cooking molasses (treacle)
2 large eggs
350 grams self-raising flour (or regular four plus one tablespoon baking powder)
100 gram rolled oats

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A Good Home, Apples, Autumn, Cooking, Fruit trees, Garden, Homes, Raccoons and fruit trees, Squirrels and Apple trees

Apples and Critters

Blog - Pond and trees

Photos by Hamlin Grange

Way out of reach is where the biggest, sweetest fruit always grow. The sweetest guava hangs way out over the middle of a deep pond.  The perfect apples are at the top of the tree.

And far below them you stand, wishing you had wings.

That’s what I’m thinking as I gaze up at a bunch of apples near the top of our big old apple tree. A heritage variety, Wolf River, this tree and the one next to it are well over a hundred years old, taller than our two-storey farmhouse, and still going strong. When ripe, the apples are as big as grapefruit, fragrant, with an unusual spicy-sweet-tart taste. Perfect for pies.

Last year, there were hundreds of ripening apples to choose from: enough for birds, squirrels and humans to peacefully share.

Blog Apple tree 2

But these trees only bear heavily every other year. Since this is their “off year”, it’s a race against the wildlife to get at the fruit first.

If we’re lucky, the wind blows some off the trees in early October. These windfall apples aren’t ripe, but make delicious filling for crepes. Just cut off the bruised parts, slice up the rest and drop it into a hot pot, along with brown sugar, cinnamon and butter.  But the very best and biggest apples are those that ripen on the tree.  Just two of them could make one pie.

Blog - apples in bowl

“I’ll use the tall ladder to get them all in a week or so”, my husband says.

“It won’t be tall enough,” I reply.

“Don’t worry,” says my brave guy. “I’ll use the tall ladder, AND a long stick.”

Several days later, I go outside and look straight up at the treetop. The apples are still there, but something doesn’t look right, somehow. It’s like there’s a big dark bundle right above a bunch of apples.

Blog - Squirrel nest above apples

“You should go take a look,” I tell my husband when I come back inside the house.

He goes outside. He comes back and says: “That’s the biggest squirrel nest I’ve ever seen.”

It figures. If you’re a squirrel who likes apples, it makes perfect sense to build your home right at the source of your food.

Squirrels have to eat, after all. But …

“You little creeps!” I hear myself yelling up at the nest.

On the Internet, I learn that squirrels are notorious criminals. They steal pears, peaches and apples. They build their nests right in the trees and get to the fruit before the humans can. This makes fruit tree owners so furious, some have become criminals themselves – moving from trapping to illegally shooting the squirrels. It’s war out there.

Meanwhile, our apples have stopped falling. The remaining ones get bigger and riper every day. I can’t understand why the squirrels haven’t got them yet.

Blog - close up of Squirrel nest

Or my husband, for that matter.  There’s no sign of a ladder or stick, or a husband getting ready to pick apples.

But — what if the squirrels have been watching the apples just like we have? Just biding their time? What if they gang up on my poor husband when he’s tottering on a tall ladder, aiming a long stick at the apples right below their nest?

“Let’s just pick the ones you can reach with the stick,” I say one early evening.

Surprisingly, he’s able to pick most of the apples, except for the ones nearest to the squirrel nest. He looks up into the tree, eyeing that bunch wistfully.

Blog - Ripening apples in tree

“They’re perfect apples,” he says, shaking his head. “Just perfect. Pity…”

We decide to leave them to the squirrels and be thankful for the ones we already have. I’m packing the apples into a basket, when I hear, “What the hell…!”

And an instant after that: “There’s a raccoon up there,” he says, pointing, voice raised. “An enormous raccoon.”

He’s right. It is huge. A grey-black thing, all fur and eyes and tail, looking remarkably comfortable, almost curled around a tree branch. Seems there’s more than squirrels eyeing those apples.

Blog - Rocky Raccoon

We decide to leave him be.  Meanwhile, you oughta see what the folks on the Internet have to say about raccoons. Yep: it’s war out there…

http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/fruit/msg0505493426684.html