Tart Cranberry Apple Pear Sauce
This time of year I LOVE being in the kitchen. Baking, cooking, and more baking. Mostly with cinnamon. And cranberries. And pumpkin. And apples.
This recipe is an evolution of my original Apple Cranberry Sauce recipe; and much improved if I do say so myself. But you don't have to take MY word for it. (Yes, that was a reference to Reading Rainbow, for the oldsters among us.)
2 Cups of delicious New Jersey grown Cranberries (okay, they don't HAVE to be from NJ, but, humor me here. The Pine Barrens just do SOMETHING to make cranberries amazing)
4 Large Apples (I recommend something on the tart side like Granny Smith)
1/2 Tsp Lemon Zest (this means grating the rind/skin - so please use organic lemons if at all possible)
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Cup Water
1/2 tsp of Cinnamon
Dash of Nutmeg
Peel & cut the apples & pears into bite-size pieces. Combine the berries, apples, pears, sugar, lemon zest, water, and spices in a medium pot. Bring to a boil. Stir, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for around 10 minutes or until the apples are soft (but with a bit of bite still to them). The fruit and juices will soften and meld together into a deliciously sweet and tart sauce as it cools. Serve warm or cold - both are delicious!
You can top with a bit of vanilla sugar if it's not sweet enough for your tastes (though I prefer it tart, you can also up the brown sugar to one cup, initially). Enjoy!
The 12 Days of Halloween Song
In the spirit of the season, I present my children (well, mostly my daughter), singing the The 12 Days of Halloween
(to the tune of The 12 Days of Christmas, naturally!)
The lyrics are as follows:
On the first day of Halloween my true love gave to me…
An owl in a old oak tree.
On the second day of Halloween my true love gave to me…
2 black cats, and an owl in a old oak tree.
On the third day of Halloween my true love gave to me…
3 pumpkins glowing, 2 black cats, and an owl in an old oak tree.
On the fourth day of Halloween my true love gave to me…
4 witches brewing…
5 candy corn…
6 scary costumes…
7 bats a flying…
8 spiders webbing…
9 ghosts a’haunting…
10 scarecrows scaring…
11 werewolves howling…
12 banshees wailing…
(Yes, I realize I'm nearly 2 weeks early. I figured you'd like some time to practice.)
Sunday Spark: Hiking in the Woods
When Adam asked me what I’d like to do for my birthday, naturally, I said I’d like to go for a hike.
(Leaves had fallen all along the trail... beautiful!)
We’ve been hiking together for 17 years. I’ve hiked through two pregnancies, hiked with a newborn, hiked when the snow was up to my hips and when the wind blew so hard and cold that the water was freezing in my drinking water line, hiked when the mosquitoes have bitten my ankles til they’re swollen. Together we’ve woken with the sun, put a tent up in the dark, and the rain, hiked on the Appalachian Trail, in Canada, Mexico, and several US states
, and have carried everything we needed for days on our backs. Our children have been along with us for much of the journey. So when we say we’re going hiking – they shout joyously: WHEN!!
It warms my heart to see how much they love the woods, too.
See, nature is my second language. When I’m out in the woods, everything is clear, right, and okay. We could be cold; it’s okay. We could be lost; it’s okay. We could be tired; it’s okay. The energy of the trees, the synergy between sun, air, ground, plants, animals, humans… the world is condensed, tangible, reachable, when you’re in the woods. There aren't any hard, fast schedules, no expectations, no limits. Everything seems possible, and life, perfect.
(Starting off up the AT)
Yesterday, as usual, nature didn’t disappoint! We chose a circuit trail at the Delaware Water Gap, on the Pennsylvania side – a favorite spot since it’s not too far a drive for us, and the elevation increase from base to peak isn’t too great, so the incline is gentle – perfect for hikes with children.
(View across the gap - Mt. Tammany straight ahead, Mt. Minsi to the right)
We climbed Mount Minsi this time, which was a gentle incline on a mostly clear, not-too-narrow, and well-marked part of the AT. We crossed streams, past a couple of ponds and rocky outcroppings, and were treated to several beautiful views of the gap. At the top, Mt. Minsi opens up to a glorious view of Mount Tammany – still very green, as you can see!
(View of Mt. Tammany from the top of Mt. Minsi)
We’ve hiked Mt. Tammany with the kids in the past; it was a slightly shorter loop. The Minsi loop we chose was a ~4.25 miler up the Appalachian Trail, and down a fire lane. It was a beautiful Fall day, warm, bright, the leaves starting to fall – it was absolutely perfect for a day hike.
(Heading down the fire lane)
I hope you had a lovely weekend, and are enjoying the Fall. If you hike with your family, tell me about your favorite hiking spot - I'd love to hear!
The winds will blow their own freshness into you,
and the storms their energy,
while cares will drop away from you
like the leaves of Autumn.
September brings a sigh of relief with its shortened days and cooler evenings. We sleep better, and breathe more deeply; the air scented with decomposing leaves and heavy rain. Our routines – school, work, being outside – fall back into place and life feels like it has more of a rhythm. This month is magical to me with its reminder of the birth of my daughter, now seven years past (Seven! I can hardly believe that as I type it) – Autumn smells like birth; as contrary as that may seem in this month of decaying greenery.
Yet, even in the crispness and enchantment that Fall brings, I feel a heaviness. Perhaps it is that the start of this month includes a yearly reminder of a terrible tragedy. Maybe it is the vague suggestion of snow – far from now, but closer with each day – which promises to cover my slowly browning and sleeping garden. Possibly my body is adjusting to the new balance the passing of the equinox brings. The crickets still sing at dusk, but no new buds are pushed forward from my plants. Our compost bin is filling quickly; yet decaying slowly in the cooler weather. The sunlight, while still warm during the days, is less strong. Maybe it is the thought of winter – the very end of winter – where everything is frozen, each nose is drippy, each person is cooped up inside away from the cold, all the bright holidays have been exhausted, but the crocus aren’t ready to push up through the soil just yet – that brings the heaviness.
Today, as September draws to a close, and leads into my own birth month, I’m choosing to let go the weightiness, and embrace the lightness of Autumn: Pumpkins. Mums. Leaves. Crisp air and sweaters (Sweaters!). Apples. Vibrant, deep, earthy, inspiring colors. Wooded walks without Summer’s underbrush to block our paths. Birthdays and holidays and harvests and rich food and firewood.
I hope your Summer was lovely and that your Autumn is even more divine.
Delicious Autumn! My very soul is wedded to it,
and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth
seeking the successive autumns.
Autumn in the sky...
...and Autumn on the ground.