A Catholic perspective on the world and all the good things therein, especially books and food. Literature cum chocolate is the order of the day at The Crockery.

Location: A Collegetown, Undisclosed Location, United States

No longer a graduate student, Teresa is now a professional know-it-all.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Return of the Apple Cider

Last night, at the vigil mass, the new assistant pastor mentioned in his sermon that fall was here. Leaves are starting to change colors, children are going back to school, and football season was starting up. I couldn't help but think something along the lines of "I wonder when the apple cider will return." You see, when the days get cooler, I start longing for something warm, spicy, and tasting of autumn: apple cider, to be precise. I even sent my husband off on a cider-buying expedition a few weeks ago, but to no avail. Cider is a seasonal beverage, only available during autumn and winter.

But it must really be autumn now, because as of today, apple cider is appearing in grocery stores, at least in my neck of the woods. There's a medium-sized crockpot full of it in my kitchen right now, prepared from the directions given in my very first blog entry. I can't wait for the wonderful smell that will arise as it heats. Spiced apple cider smells a little like incense or pot-pourri, but it's an edible incense, offered to the God who makes the seasons change, year after year, whether we want them to do so or not.

I can't imagine living in a climate without the four seasons I've grown up knowing and loving. I'm sure that southern California and Florida are lovely places, but for a person drawn to familiar rituals and traditions, living there would surely be depressing. The holidays and the seasons are mingled together in my memory. To every thing there is a season. . . and to every season there are certain foods which never seem as fitting or taste as good served out of time. Autumn is the time for scary costumes, ghost stories, and apple products. (Cider is just the beginning: at some point this year, I want to curl up with a gourmet candy apple and a scary movie.) As October turns into November, and autumn fades into early winter, thick sweaters and thick stews will appear. Around Christmas, I'll stock up on Mexican chocolate . . . and dark molasses, a necessary ingredient for hot gingerbread cake. Some like gingerbread cookies, but we like the cake, served with real whipped cream. In late winter, perhaps I'll grow desperate for color and spice, and reach for the chili section of my favorite cookbook.

I admit it, I have more trouble coming up with good spring and summer dishes. We don't have a grill and we're not into salads. Autumn and winter, however, are ideal times for a slow cooking fan. I like to think that at this time of year I excel at coming up with comfort food to battle the gloomy clouds that settle over town about now. Last year my stewmeat of choice was veal. Who knows what I'll manage to put into a stew this year?

I predict that in the upcoming weeks, I will blog about: Halloween and the need cultures have to be scared now and then; oxtail stew, if I am brave enough to try it; Nosferatu and the genre of silent horror; more apple products; hot soups and fresh breads and warm, filling desserts; Victorian ghost stories, famous or not; and perhaps the quiet power of the Christian Year, which moves us through our lives, sometimes without our noticing it.


Blogger Andrew said...

I always look forward to seasonal drinks too, like eggnog at Christmas. Yum!

To Love, Honor and Dismay

2:02 PM  
Anonymous Bob The Baker said...

You got me there. Yum, you're making me hungry for gingerbread and mulled wine.
Oxtail stew is pretty good, but if I were you, I'd try to find some way to remove some of the fat after cooking.
Maybe chill it and scrape off the congealed fat, and then re-heat it before serving? I'm not sure. Anyhow, the taste is good.

9:44 PM  
Blogger janeeyreish said...

I was invited to lunch at the Cricket Club and had the most delicious potato and mushroom soup.
I got thinking of seasonal foods and could taste homemade (it has to be homemade) pumpkin pie, homemade pineapple pie, and Indian pudding that has baked for eight hours and is topped with vanilla ice cream.

5:41 PM  
Blogger Teresa H.T. said...

I was invited to lunch at the Cricket Club. . .

The Cricket Club, eh? I wonder if they'd give free meals to our cat.

2:09 PM  

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