It’s hard to believe that three years have gone by since the beginning of the pandemic, when we searched for places to walk where we would encounter few other people. My husband Paul had come across an article in an old New Yorker magazine that was about to join the recycle pile. The writer Alan Weisman, who wrote the book: The World Without Us, was waiting out the pandemic at his home in rural Cummington, Massachusetts. He took daily inspiration from his walks at the bucolic William Cullen Bryant Homestead in Cummington.
We decided to seek out the site and discovered a place of great natural beauty; it had a timeless air of peace and solitude. Since then, we have returned countless times during all of the seasons. One of our favorite trails is the Sugar Bush Trail that winds through an old maple sugaring farm. A few weeks ago, we bundled up to take a walk there on a cold and frosty day. At the beginning of the trail one of Bryant’s poems is posted- “Stranger, if thou hast learned a truth which needs no school of long experience, that the world is full of guilt and misery and hast seen enough of all its sorrows, crimes and cares. To tire thee of it, enter this wild wood and view the haunts of nature. The calm shade shall bring a kindred calm.”
So fitting for our time with the devastation in Turkey and Ukraine and our current climate of political divide and mistrust. Nature continues to be a balm for the soul!
Make a cup of hot tea and join us on a virtual walk through the woods!
And as always, thinking about food and particularly cooking and dreaming up delicious combinations of flavors is centering and calming.
I have been using a vegan recipe for spelt biscuits from Erin McKennas’s Baby Cakes Cookbook for several years; the biscuits make a great topping for either savory potpies or fruit cobblers.
We enjoy fruit cobblers with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and peaches, whatever is in season. Recently Paul asked about mixing cherries and apples and at first, I admit that I turned up my nose at the idea. But, we had a bag of frozen sour cherries in the freezer and I decided to give it a try. I placed the frozen cherries and a few peeled and sliced apples in a medium pot. We have gotten used to desserts without any added sugar, but if you desire a sweeter taste, feel free to add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar to the fruit as it cooks. I thought that some warming spices might be nice; cinnamon and a pinch each of allspice and ground cloves. I cooked down the mixture until the fruit softened and added a slurry of cornstarch mixed with water. The mixture quickly thickened and bubbled up with a lovely aroma and with the addition of vanilla extract it smelled even better. And, it turns out that the combination of cherries and apples was delicious!
Next week I travel to California for a collaboration with the jazz oboist Paul McCandless. I will be accompanied by my intrepid travel buddy Carol and after the sessions with Paul McCandless, we are going on a foodie road trip to nearby Sonoma county; we were lucky enough to snare a reservation at the famous restaurant, Chez Panisse in Berkeley! I have been eagerly reading the menu and lo and behold, a featured dessert is apple and sour cherry Galette! Much more to come from our California culinary adventures…..
Spiced Apple and Sour Cherry Cobbler
Pre- heat oven to 350 degrees
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup whole grain spelt flour
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup hot water
To Make Biscuits:
In a large bowl, combine flours, salt, baking powder. Mix well.
Add oil and hot water, stir to combine and knead mixture gently a few times with your hands.
3-4 large apples peeled and thinly sliced
8 ounces frozen sour cherries (a mixture of sweet or sour cherries is fine)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with about 2 teaspoons water- more if needed.
Make the Filling:
Place frozen cherries in a medium sized pot and cook over a low heat until cherries soften and start to release a bit of their juice.
Add apples and cook mixture until apples start to soften slightly.
Add cornstarch mixture and whisk mixture until it thickens and the cornstarch turns clear. Stir in vanilla.
Place mixture in bottom of a baking dish and form biscuits on top.
Bake about 40 minutes until filling bubbles up and biscuits brown nicely.
Serve with vanilla ice cream if desired.
AND: Here’s the Tree of the Week
“It’s really cold out here, but the sun does feel good!!”
STAY WARM AND SAFE!