* “Man plans and God Laughs”- The old Yiddish expression took on new meaning this past week. The plan was this-my Birthday week was crammed full with students, an early rehearsal in NYC for a Salisbury Four Christmas concert, teaching at Hofstra University and getting ready for the release of my group Hevreh Ensemble’s new album, Meserole Street. I thought that I would be too busy to write much in the way of my blog and the idea of a guest blogger appealed to me. My husband took a walk at the Keystone Arches in Chester, MA and returned with beautiful photographs- he would be the perfect guest!
But as it happened, too much transpired that I needed to write about. I will look forward to featuring a Keystone Arches guest blog soon!
This year, my birthday fell on a Friday, the day I travel to New York to teach; Paul suggested waiting until Sunday to celebrate. The plan was to attend an Orchestra ONE concert at Bard College’s Fisher Center. A group of my talented Advanced Ensemble students from the Indian Mountain School were planning to meet us at the concert; being kindly driven by another IMS faculty member. After the concert, Paul and I would drive to nearby Rhinebeck, New York and have dinner at one of our favorite restaurants; Gigi’s Trattoria. I returned home Saturday night; tired but happy and inspired by the rehearsal I had that afternoon. Exquisite melodies from works by Schutz and Monteverdi were still dancing around in my head and for a brief time all felt right with our crazy world. At the rehearsal, we had all talked about the soothing power of music.
Then, Sunday morning after I woke up late, I came downstairs and my husband ominously said that his throat hurt and it felt scratchy. We both took Covid rapid tests and his came back with the dreaded 2 stripes! Quickly all plans were scuttled and we were thrust into the place where no one wants to go….
Feeling frustrated with the sudden change in direction, I decided to take a hike by myself. I made sure that Paul was comfortable with plenty of tissues and herbal tea nearby and I am so glad that I decided to tell him my planned destination!
I set out for The Drury Preserve in Sheffield, Massachusetts for beautiful solitude. My car was the only one in the small lot and this suited my mood just fine. Kicking leaves, I strode off on the trail that led through a pine forest. My thoughts were full of frustration, anger, worry about Paul and plenty of self pity! The trail leads gradually down into a swampy area with narrow planks of wood over the small marsh; the entire round trip is about 3 miles. As I tramped through the woods, gradually my mood began to lighten and I thought there might even be enough time to get back to The Bistro Box in Great Barrington to bring home chicken and falafel burgers and a salad with the freshest organic greens. Things were beginning to look brighter!
I crossed the last wooden plank over the marsh and looked forward to reaching a small idyllic pond with a small wooden bench that has a lovely view of Race Mountain in the distance. Somehow I got off the trail without knowing it, but I saw the pond in the distance and climbed up a small hill and then down to the pond.
I sat for a few minutes on the bench, breathing in the fresh fall air deeply and then started to head back. Very quickly I realized that I could not find the trail. The ground was covered with leaves and there were no blue blazes on the trees to mark the way.
I started off in one direction, realized it was not leading to the trail and went the other way. This did not work either, but I saw the pond peeking through the trees and headed back to the pond.
After a few mores tries to orient myself to the trail, I knew that I was completely lost and as the sun sank lower in the sky, a small amount of worry trickled into my mind and I decided to call my sick husband. With one bar of power on my phone, the call miraculously connected and I said “I think I am completely turned around, please come!! I had a good 45 minutes to wait for my rescuer and went back to the lovely bench by the pond; plenty of time to “cool my heels”, mediate and take pictures of the beautiful surroundings.
I even took a picture of a possible candidate for a “Tree of the Week”!
As I heard Paul’s voice calling out to me through the woods, I felt palpable relief. I bounded down the path towards him; Paul was so relieved to see me that he did not pay close attention to the way back and soon enough both of us were lost! Our friends Peter and Caroline were also coming to my rescue. Luckily, Paul remembered Peter’s advise to “cross the marsh and head east” after Peter had checked a map of the preserve. With great relief we soon saw the wooden slats of the trail in the distance and we headed back to our cars just as the sun was setting!
And best of all, my dear friend Carol created a beautiful piece of artwork, “Tree and Bird” for my birthday; this could not be a better birthday treat! To see more of her extraordinary artwork: Carol Ober.
As I write this post, Paul is recovering nicely and I wait to see if I will develop symptoms.
In the Fall, I often pass by farm stands that sell Apple Cider Donuts and I resist eating them because they are greasy, overly sweet, full of calories and I am often disappointed with the lack of apple flavor. I set out to find a recipe for Apple Cider Donuts that were baked and full of cider flavor and I think I may have found the trick! I adapted a recipe that I found online from Sweet Cayenne. The recipe calls for apple cider that is cooked down into a syrup and with the addition of allspice, cinnamon and ground cloves, they tasted light, delicious and best of all are guilt free! I liked them plain, but they could also be glazed or dipped in coconut sugar and cinnamon.
Baked Apple Cider Donuts- adapted from Sweet Cayenne
For the donuts:
- ⅓ cup neutral-flavored oil (canola, avocado, grapeseed, walnut)
- 3 large eggs
- 1/4 cup monk fruit sweetener
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar
- 1 cup applesauce ( I did not have a jar of applesauce on hand, so I just cooked down a few apples and mashed them up with some cinnamon).
- ½ cup apple cider, boiled down to about 2 tablespoons of syrup
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
For the glaze:
- 1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons milk or enough to make a spreadable glaze
Making the donuts:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a non-stick donut pan with cooking spray. My pan makes 6 donuts, so I had to fill it twice.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs, sugar, applesauce, cider syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder until smooth.
- Add the flour, stirring until just smooth.
- Fill a pastry bag or a sturdy gallon-sized plastic bag with the batter. Use scissors to snip off the tip of the bag, creating about an ½”’ hole.
- Pipe the batter into the wells of the doughnut pan nearly to the rim. Or, just carefully spoon in the batter.
- Bake the doughnuts for 12 to 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean. .
- Remove the doughnuts from the oven, and loosen their edges by running a knife along the outer circle.
AND: Here is the “Tree of the Week”
HAPPY HALLOWEEN AND STAY SAFE!!