Season of mists and huge spiders in the kitchen sink…

crab apples

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,

Close bosom-friend of  the maturing sun;

Conspiring with him how to load and bless

With fruits the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;

To bend with apples the moss’d cottage trees’

And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;

To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells

With a sweet kernel;to set budding more,

And still more, later flowers for the bees,

Until they think warm days will never cease,

For Summer has o’er brimmed their clammy cells.

J Keats:-To Autumn

rosy and orange tinted crab apples

After a bank holiday spent indoors tucked up on the sofa with a lap full of crochet and watching the rain come bucketing down outdoors, we both agreed that Summer felt like it was well and truly on it’s way out, and the first fleeting glimpses of Autumn were making themselves known.  Coming down to the kitchen to find whopping great spiders, all fat bodied and hairy legs, lurking in the sink, and heavy dew wetting against my legs when I pick raspberries for breakfast are markers that the year is turning…goodbye August and hello September.

Where just the other side of the bank holiday the back door was flung open as soon as I got up even when it was pouring down with rain, today under a blue sky I shivered and brrr’d standing on the door step holding the mornings first cup of tea.

The crab apples are all ready now for picking, they don’t seem to mind the rain and are bigger than last years harvest, all rosy red and amber glowing, these will be picked and made into herb infused jellies which I want to use in some Winter gravies.  And just around the back along the edge of the school I’ve found some wildings so though the blackberries are a bit of a washout, the apples seem to be this season’s winner.

spelt and apple honey bread

The weekend winds and downpour of rain didn’t do too much damage to the garden, a few squashed raspberries but nothing to lose sleep over.  Even the couple of apples that dropped a bit early have been put to good use and were chopped and popped into the latest loaf of bread.

I always feel the apples from our garden are so precious (our apple trees unfortunately get too much shade to produce bushels of fruit) so peeling these felt a bit wasteful, a quick wipe was enough before I chopped them up really finely (cores in the compost bin) before adding them to the bread sponge.  A generous dollop of honey, a good handful of seeds, oats, and a blend of spelt and flour dough made this rather rustic looking loaf.  I risked a bite of his breakfast toast and only the thought of the wretchedness that would be sure to come later prevented me from slicing a couple of pieces to put under the grill for myself.  It was lovely and nutty tasting, the apple wasn’t too noticeable (when I sliced the bread the pink of the peel spread out and coloured the bread a little)…the sort of bread you want to make into proper doorstop sized sandwiches and eat outside.

sleeping in the sunny spot

Plans for Summer jams have pretty much gone out the window, everything’s sopping and rain drenched so instead I’m wadding through books for fruit infused drinks to help stave off Winter chills, sloe gins, clove studded apples in brandy, drowned blackberries in a variety of beverages and quince* flavoured vodkas are all being earmarked, and one pantry shelf already seems half groaning with jars full of floating fruits and preserved walnuts.

We’re fortunate in that the main room downstairs has both a west and east facing window so afternoon sunshine (whenever there is any) floods in and I’m sure it won’t surprise you to know that himself is often found basking in any pools of sunlight, covering his face with a fat paw if it’s too bright.  Though for a cat he’s not always so graceful, and will generally plonk himself down with no regard for dignity or for poor Miss Enid (the name of the cat toy behind him which he has somewhat of an on again/off again romance with).

*I may not see the all the pins I drop but I’ve gotten pretty good at spotting hidden treasures when I’m out walking…I thought my foraging finds was at a high when I got to eat a fat, and just perfectly ripened fig which was overhanging a not used too often pathway, but I’ve now found a hoard of green quince, I’m letting them fatten up a bit more (they seem so well hidden I don’t think anyone else is going to be taking them) then they’ll be cooked for tarts and immersed in vodka. It was just by chance that I spotted them as we have a little Chaenomeles Japonica in the garden and I recognized one when I was out and about…I’d sort of forgotten about it then looked the other week and there nestling amongst leaves the exact same green were lots of little fruit.  The Japonica quince seem more round and apple shaped than a true quince but they still add a lovely subtle flavour to apple based puddings.

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8 thoughts on “Season of mists and huge spiders in the kitchen sink…

  1. Your foraging always amazes me, I still haven’t got out blackberrying yet! Ugh, I really don’t like those big Autumn spiders, Last year we had at least half a dozen find their way indoors and poor Abi must have had a nest under her bed because for about two weeks a while back she had a spider crawl over her in bed nearly every day! It really does feel autumnal now, yesterday I could even see my breath early in the morning. Enjoy your foraging! x

    1. I think I even amazed myself the other evening with just how quickly I leapt up onto the sofa after seeing something scurry over to Bernard’s cat basket (full of toys and stolen balls of wool rather than cat)…my normally tortoise mode is increased to roadrunner speed if I see even the smallest spider (I have in the past nearly given myself a heart attack by mistaking what was in fact an incredibly plastic looking spider when it fell on me.)

  2. Your post has made me want to make preserves again. I used to make crab apple jellies too, infused with mulled spices or lavender. I have used japonica quinces to make membrillo. Perfect with a slice of Manchego! I spotted a neighbouring garden last week with fruit on their bush, wonder if they would miss a few?! A beautifully written post.

    1. Thank you. We have some neighbours down the road who leave out huge boxes of windfall apples which I usually use up in chutneys, crumbles and pies. We’re lucky here as the hedgerows are really heaving with fruit, though I look a right pickle when I go out to clamber about in the bushes. I’m sure your neighbours wouldn’t miss a few, they maybe don’t even know you can eat them.(it’s like monkey puzzle tree nuts, most people who have them in their garden have no idea how tasty they are…like super sized pine nuts)xx

      1. Wow, monkey puzzle nuts? I am so excited about trying them now. You are right about people not knowing.. we went to a pub the other day and there was a tree laden with mulberries which I proceeded to stuff my face full of, clearly no one had been eaten them as loads had dropped. Maybe we can swap some preserve recipes as I might try again this year? 🙂

      2. The best jam book I’ve found is Mes Confitures by Christine Ferber….her recipes are just delicious. The monkey puzzle nuts was a Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall tip
        Lucky you with the mulberries xx

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