Posts Tagged ‘apple cider’

You Are A Magician!

October 10, 2017

I got the sweetest text tonight as I was wrapping up at my internship.

My boss had sent me a message extolling my baking prowess.

I made the family an apple tart tonight.

It was going to be a pie, but they only had tart baking dishes so I changed up what I was doing and made a butter pastry, yes, by hand, it’s not that hard, and did my version of apple pie filling.

The nice thing about it too.

All the apples came from their tree in the front of their house.

It reminded me of when I learned how to make apple pies.

I was twelve, we had just moved from Madison, Wisconsin, to Windsor, Wisconsin.

I went from being in an urban multi-cultural neighborhood and school to rural white country in a blink of an eye.

I didn’t think much of it at the time, the racial stuff, the class system and structure, I got lumped into the “farm kids” group even though we didn’t live on a farm.

And yes, I have drank milk straight from the pail underneath a cow’s udder, I remember very distinctly that it was warm, but I was no farm girl.

I can pass for one though.

I currently pass for very urban, the tattoos do that and my funky style of dressing, which has been evolving for years, but it is still quite urban.

However.

I can pass for a country girl too, not so much a farm girl, but I know a lot about living in the country and the seasons, canning and jarring, making preserves, putting up food for the winter.

We had a pantry in the cellar.

And it was a cellar.

Oh, sure, we had a basement, but we also had a cellar too, an unfinished one with a dirt floor, which was spooky as fuck and after one winter of storing stuff there I declined to ever go near it again.

Some places are just too goddamn creepy and I had a penchant for reading Stephen King in highschool, which did nothing to help matters.

Anyway.

This country girl can also jam and she can bake.

My mom taught me.

We had an apple orchard on the property–4 Red Delicious Trees, 1 Golden Delicious, and 7 Cortland trees.

I don’t know that there are any Cortland apples in California, there might be, but I don’t recall seeing them in the stores.

I have dreamed once or twice about having my own apple orchard.

A modest one.

Maybe a hobby one.

I would be a famous writer.

Or better.

A writer who just made money writing.

I would have a big house and a small barn.

I would put up apples and preserves and make apple jelly and apple pies, apple sauce, and oh!

Apple butter.

So freaking good.

And of course.

Lots of apple cider.

I would write in my office in the barn and have a braided rug and a rocking chair, a big desk and a fireplace.

I would drink hot tea while the snow fell and be super content listening to the hush and crackle of snow falling.

I would fall asleep under large comforters.

I would have my bunny slippers of course.

It’s a sweet fantasy.

One I could imagine having here, partially, but it would be outside of the city, obviously.

Or.

Maybe I could just have my own house and I would have the trees that I like, a couple of apple trees, the Envy varietal or Pink Lady, I also really like the Mutsu apples.  And a persimmon tree.

Fuck I love persimmons.

And it’s persimmon season.

When I get done with my blog I will be having both and apple and a persimmon as my evening snack, I shall cut them up, sprinkle them with cinnamon, nutmeg, sea salt and pumpkin pie spice.

The best.

I might have a pear tree too.

And definitely a fig tree.

Then a little kitchen garden–tomatoes, lettuces, onions, herbs–rosemary, basil, oregano, thyme, carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, heck, maybe even some sweet corn.

But really I want tomatoes, like the ones my grandfather grew in his garden in Lodi.

My grandfather helped my mom quite a bit with the planning of our garden in Windsor, we had an acre of land and the back of it was a big sprawling yard, halved by a grape arbor and then the back was the orchard and the garden.

The garden wasn’t as big as my grandfathers and I remember my stepfather (step asshole, step asshat, step misogynist, oops, sorry, digression) got some weird ideas about what to grow.

One year it was a god awful amount of cabbage and he decided we were going to make sauerkraut.

We made so much sauerkraut that four years later I could still find it in the pantry in the basement, not the cellar mind you, but the basement.

Another year it was potatoes and broccoli.

There was also a small strawberry patch, some raspberries, and red currants as well as rhubarb.

One of my mom’s masterpieces was her strawberry rhubarb egg custard tart.

God damn it was a miracle.

And my mom taught me her pie crust recipe.

Which, to this day, I can see on its index card in her small recipe box, the way she wrote her letters and the fanciful swoops and curves of her lines and the flourishes.

When I think of my mom sometimes I think that her creative soul can be found in her cursive handwriting.

I didn’t even need to look at the recipe card after a few years, I had made so many pies that it was unnecessary.

I made apple pies, of course, until the cows came home.

This is a saying, not literal, although there was a farm just down the road that the dog liked to go occasion once in a while to piss off my mother by rolling in the cow manure.

There is nothing fouler to smell than a dirty dog in cow shit.

Anyway.

My mom taught me well and it was nice to dip back into those memories, to feel the seasons change, to think about fall abundance and harvest.

I miss baking sometimes and I’m a good baker, so it was super sweet and a bit special to make the tart for the family I work for.

I cooked a lot today for the family as it was a stay at home day for the kids, Columbus Day school observance, but the pie made me the happiest to make.

I didn’t need to taste it, I don’t eat sugar or flour, so that was out of the question.

But oh.

I smelled it.

And it was so good.

It reminded me of home, the days crisp and cool and the leaves turning and the grass still green but cold now on my feet when I was out picking through the windfall apples in the tall orchard grass.

I am so glad and grateful that I get to live in San Francisco.

But once in a while.

Yes.

I do get a touch nostalgic for the Midwest.

And baking today felt good.

Sweet.

Homey.

Cozy.

It stirred me and I was grateful for it.

And touched too, that the mom would send me such an effusive message.

I am glad they liked the pie.

I probably liked baking it more than they enjoyed eating it.

That might not seem possible.

But.

Well.

I think it is.

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Sometimes

September 7, 2017

Music makes me sigh.

Releases some unknown tension and I can relax.

I put on Yo-Yo Ma’s Bach Cello Preludes and it was like I was melting.

I heaved a big sigh and just sank into my chair.

My body hurts today.

My shoulder is a nuisance.

Apparently I pushed too hard in yoga on Monday or maybe it was carrying the baby as much as I did today, but ouch.

Ugh.

Getting old.

I’m sure I will look back at being 44 and laugh at myself thinking that I am old.

The fact is.

I don’t feel my age.

Oh.

I suppose my knees feel twice my age and my shoulder feels like a baseball pitcher being put out to pasture.

But.

Feeling my age?

No.

I don’t think I feel any certain age.

Although I do recall a time when I realized that all people below a certain age annoyed the shit out of me, I don’t subscribe to any particular feeling when I think, “I feel this old.”

The little girl I watch is four.

She likes to ask me about my age, “I’m 44 honey, eleven times older than you.”

And that is intense to contemplate.

I remember being four.

Pivotal things happened.

Then again.

I don’t remember a lot of being four either.

Um.

Pivotal things happened.

For the most part, however, I have an extraordinary memory and I’m good at replaying scenes as I have taken them in.

If I can hone in on a detail I am suddenly filling all the spaces with colors and sounds and emotional movement and music, with narrative, and it is as though I am watching a movie.

As I have gotten older some memories stick more than others.

Certain scenes, images, smells.

Oh.

A smell can carry so much weight in it.

Or a taste of something.

Tomatoes with salt from my grandfather’s garden.

Raspberries and milk with sugar in a green plastic bowl, raspberries I picked with my grandmother.

Apple cider.

The top sweetest part of the 2 gallon milk jug that we would pour the homemade apple cider into after running it through the press.

My grandfather unearthed an old apple press and rigged it to a lawn mower motor and we made cider using that press for years.

The house in Windsor that I moved to in 7th grade had an apple orchard, 4 Red Delicious trees (to this day I always wonder why the fuck they planted such boring ass apples, fodder for the press, all of them, we never ate them they were just such plain Jane apples) and 8 Courtland trees, plus four pear trees and one Golden Delicious–the animals and birds ate most of the Golden Delicious before they could even ripen, they were such amazingly sweet apples, almost translucent with sugar, you could see through the skin in the sunlight.

My mom would pour the cider into milk jugs and then freeze them in a giant freezer we had in the basement of the house.

The sweetest part of the cider would float to the top when it thawed and my mom tried valiantly to not let us drink any of the cider until it defrosted completely, but my sister and I often foiled her.

The cold, achingly sweet, syrupy juice taste will always stick in my memory.

Sometimes it is the smell of strawberries in the morning, reminding me of a very late night that became an early morning and it was warm and summer time in Madison and I was walking home from closing the bar and the after bar and I stopped by a vendor at the farmers market and bought a basket of strawberries and sat in the grass, kicking off my shoes and luxuriating in the feel of the soft, warm, dewy grass.

Sometimes it is a way a certain person smells.

Euphoria.

And I am smote with longing and love and desire.

Or the way someone’s skin feels against mine.

I think too, sensory, I’m going for the senses here, of a warm night, not many of them in San Francisco, a few years ago, when I walked down to the beach and the sand was still warm and the beach was deserted and the smell of bonfires wracked my memories.

And I was suddenly four-years old again, at a beach bonfire, with my mom and sister, who was already asleep, and my mom’s boyfriend, and there was the smell of driftwood fire and sea and that smell is some embossed on me, that to this day it really is one of my fondest smells.

Smell and memory are very tied to each other.

Riding my scooter to work this morning I passed a tavern on Lincoln that must have a popcorn machine, the smell was enticing and it was real popcorn, cooked in that oil that old-fashioned machines use and real butter smell.

I was suddenly in a movie theater, the old 99 cent movie theater on the far East side of Madison, that was probably actually the suburb of Middleton, that only had one screen and I was watching Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo.

Which I didn’t get at all, but the movie was 99 cents and that’s why we were there and the popcorn was cheap and plentiful and I sat in that air-conditioned movie house and happily ate popcorn and watched a movie that I was too young to understand, but I remember the feel of the back of the movie seat in front of me on the bottoms of my feet and how I would press my feet hard into the seat to stretch and then curl back up into a ball and eat more popcorn.

Sometimes smells startle me too.

One day not too long ago I was riding up 7th and I smelled the smell of a tree, a tangerine tree in my mind, although I have no idea if it was tangerine or not, but my mom’s boyfriend had an apartment that had a tangerine tree outside of it and I would pick them and peel them sitting on the back cement steps while they got high smoking pot.

I was suddenly a little girl in a sundress with sticky fingers and bare feet and I could see all the tangerines in the tree and felt satiated with the ones I had eaten and sleepy from the sunshine.

Oh.

All the memories.

The best part of getting old, accruing all these luscious things that I get to stock pile in my brain.

In my heart.

In my soul.

All the amazing things.

There are so very many.

And I am grateful for them all.

Yes.

Yes.

I am.

Grateful beyond words.


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