The garden is a really forgiving and patient entity. Despite all of my best intentions each year, it inevitably goes less tended than I plan, and we somehow always manage to eat from it. With this year's drought, I really didn't expect anything at all to produce, but we harvested garlic, peas, a few tomatoes, a bit of kale, potatoes, some tiny onions, a handful of radishes, some butternut squash, and one giant cucumber that I didn't find until the leaves died back and it had already yellowed. (The chickens enjoyed it.) I've said it before, and I think I will for the rest of my days - growing food is the COOLEST THING. It is completely amazing.
And as if that wasn't cool enough - growing things on purpose to eat, I mean - you can also find things growing in the wild, for free! The apples, above, are really lovely and tart cooking apples which are excellent with pork. We ate pounds and pounds of blackberries on walks in August. I harvested wild mint several times this summer for tea through the winter, and dehydrated rosehips and teaberry for tea, too. All right there, and free for the taking!
One afternoon in August, when the boys and I were picking blueberries in the back field on our way into the woods, I noticed that Thomas was walking on some sort of plant I hadn't noticed before - smallish white beads caught my eye. I'm sure I whooped out loud when I realized that we have cranberries. I love cranberries. Tart and sweet is my favourite combination in a dessert, which means that lemons, rhubarb, and cranberries have my heart. And with a turkey dinner, cranberry sauce is both the visual and taste contrast that really makes everything else sing.
I made cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving almost entirely from our berries, but there were still a lot a few weeks ago that weren't quite ready to pick. Before the rain started this morning - as they have been all summer, my fingers are crossed for the well to finally fill - Thomas and I made our way to the field to see if we could find enough for a batch of muffins. Mission accomplished. And the muffin recipe above, from the fantastic and adorable 1977 The Cranberry Connection cookbook is pretty good! The texture is perfect, but I think next time I'll add a touch of cinnamon and a bit of orange zest for a bit more flavour. (Although to be fair, I *may* have eaten a bunch of party mix yesterday, and my taste buds may be suffering a bit while they recover.) As always with muffins, overmixing is the main mistake that results in rubbery, chewy, dreadful pucks, so as soon as the ingredients are incorporated, put them in your muffin tin and get them in the oven.
Other things I've been enjoying lately, in addition to free food:
The Great British Bake Off. So many people have told me that I would love it, and I finally watched a couple of episodes. Should I happen to get sick this winter, I know what I will be watching. I love that everyone is so genuinely wishing the best for everyone else, it really is all about the baking, and there's a generous dose of food history. L-O-V-E. Three thumbs up.
What Should I Read Next? Podcast. The only problem is that my TBR (to-be-read) list is getting a little out of hand.
Blue cheese. With roasted pork or beef steak, or on salad. Even better with meat on a salad. I love it so much.
My fall staple with black tea. (I have heard positive reviews of it added to coffee, too! It only takes 30 seconds to make.)
There's one week left in October to soak in all of that good October-ness before the November drear sets in. I'm hoping to make the most of it!