I love good food and I love to cook. Sometimes I will throw a bag of oven chips and a pizza in the oven and open a can of baked beans, but when time allows, there is nothing as satisfying as preparing a wonderful, well thought out meal and having it enjoyed by my family.
Most of all, I love to embrace the seasonality of cooking. Don't get me wrong, if I want fresh strawberries on Christmas day I will buy them, but I can guarantee that they won't fill me with the same joy as the first succulent red fruit of the summer from my garden. Better yet if that fruit is picked and eaten straight from the plant, warmed by the summer sun.
At this time of year, there is no shortage of windfalls from the two apple trees in my garden. The trees are very old and seem to harbour quite an extensive ecosystem of bugs and fungi. This does not create an environment conducive to the production of perfect fruits. They do tend to be a bit scabby and ... well maggoty! It takes a braver person than I to actually bite into one without a preliminary exploratory! I suppose I could fight back with insecticides and fungicides but it goes against my principles to live as natural and organic life as I can. I could tackle the problem with the alternative green solutions but if I'm honest, I don't really have a problem with the bugs taking their share as long as there is some left for me.
My family never tire of crumble. We vary the crumble topping by using different sugars (from regular white granulated to the dark muscavado) and adding oats of different grades (from fine oatmeal to jumbo oats) and sometimes using a range of different chopped nuts as I have available. No two crumbles are ever the same! I also vary the filling by adding small amounts of other ingredients. Summer fruits from the garden that I have frozen are a family favourite but my personal favourite is to mix some pear in with the apple. Served with cream or ice cream or custard it never stops being a treat.
I have recently started going to a local ice cream farm that sell 30 amazing flavours of ice cream. I am already imagining an apple crumble served with their sticky toffee pudding flavour ice cream.
As much as I love variety and experimentation, there is also something thoroughly comforting about my mum's apple pie.
My mum is amazing. You give her a giant bag of cruddy old windfalls and she will return the following week with a beautifully crafted home made apple pie for me and one for my sister. They are always identical. They are always delicious. As long as I keep giving her the apples, the apple pies keep appearing. I make sure I keep giving her the apples!
I will finish with a story from 'apple season' a few years ago.
My husband is a darling. Every morning, for as long as we have been together, he brings me a cup of tea in bed. He is a morning person. I am not. I can barely open my eyes without that first injection of caffeine. This particular morning, as with most mornings, I was thoroughly enjoying my morning brew whilst relaxing into my plumped up pillows. I am a 'drain the mug dry' sort of person and that is exactly what I did. There was something a bit odd about that last mouthful though. There was something solid in it. Thinking it was a lump of scale from the kettle I rolled it around my mouth with my tongue to identify it and get it into a position for easy ejection. It didn't feel like scale. It felt more meaty somehow. Could it be a large grain of rice that had become engorged with the boiling water? No, it was far too big for that. I was absolutely horrified when I removed it from my mouth to see that it was a grotesquely bloated, pink headed maggot. It must have migrated from the gathered windfalls in my kitchen and found its way into the mug that my husband had left by the kettle in readiness for his tea making duty. Even now, thinking about those moments that I rolled it around my mouth with my tongue make me feel a little peculiar.
It is a testament to how much I love my husband that I was able to forgive him!
This post was inspired by 'Oui Chef" at http://www.beckicklesie.com/