Last night I worked on packing up a few Christmas goodies for work and snapped this pic on Mr. Michie’s phone (sorry for the grainy pic, I was doing this by the glow of twinkle lights). I found some adorable red and white polka dot bags and these very cute cupcake boxes, which I thought would perfectly hold my cookies and it worked!
I filled each bag with a jar of homemade apple butter and a box of snowballs. Today I shall deliver them to their intended recipients.
The snowballs were made from a recipe by the lovely Serena Thompson of The Farm Chicks. I started making them 2 years ago and they have become a tried and tested favorite in the Michie household, perfect for gift giving and eating with a cup of tea.
Last weekend we went to the market and came home with bags of apples. I peeled, watching the skin tendril down from the delicate pinky white flesh of the apples, while Mr. Michie sliced them up.
Together we made our first batch of apple butter of the season and it is delicious! The house smelled of Christmas. A sweet tangy cinnamon scent filled the air, while it slowly simmered down. We have spent this past week, gobbling up our first jar. We have had it smeared over toast, biscuits, sandwiches and last night I had some mashed into a baked sweet potato! MMM!
So, our first batch is ready and jarred up for us to feast on and to give as Christmas presents.
We were awoken early this morning by the winds and rain of St. Jude. But, so far, so good today. We have had to tuck a few of our plants away and tie up the olive tree, so it doesn’t keel over in its pot. But we aren’t going to be hit as hard as others have been, but, it doesn’t sound like that at the moment as the wind is howling around the house.
Mr. Michie has coffee brewing, I am about to start working on making us a little breakfast and then we are going to finish making our first apple butter of the season. My mom gave us her recipe and so far so good, it looks just like her’s looks at this stage, so I am really pleased. And the whole house smells like apples, it reminds me of my days working on the farm at the Shed, that heavenly apple scent was infused into everything! It doesn’t get much better than that!
I met my husband last week after work and walking away from his building we passed the most delightful apple tree near the gates. Its branches were laden with fruit ripe for the picking. Their juicy ruby red skins glittered in the afternoon sun. I wanted to jump the small hedge in front of the tree and start picking apples. Unfortunately, I didn’t have anything to carry them in, for once I was unprepared. My husband handed me his phone and I attempted to photograph my discovery in the blustery weather.
It brought me back to being little. I grew up on a farm and during this time of year my dad would come home with bushels of apples and my parents would start making the most delicious applesauce. My sister and I would sit at the counter and watch my dad run the cooked apples through a food mill and see the now smooth mixture plip-plop into the pot below. Seasoned with sugar and cinnamon, we would live off of this, it was one of our favorite breakfasts!
My mom would portion off some of the plain apple mixture for herself and start to make her apple butter for the winter. She would sterilize her jars and our job was to hand her the lids to screw on over this rich cinnamony reddish-brown spread that tasted like heaven on biscuits or toast. We would have it all winter long to enjoy and she always made enough to give away as gifts as well.
This apple tree reminded me of being little, when your world was so simple and there was nothing better in the universe than to wake up to a bowl of fresh applesauce on a cool morning, your dangling legs swinging back and forth off the chair at the counter, watching the sun creep over the orchard from the kitchen window. I think there still might be nothing better in the world, than to wake up to your favorite comforts in a cozy home filled with love.
As Laura Ingalls Wilder said, “It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.”
Yesterday, was the perfect farmer’s market day! The sky was an azure blue, filled with puffy little clouds and the air was fresh and crispy. It made me long for home, to jump into the car with my family and head up to the farmer’s market in Asheville. There is a major market there that overlooks the Biltmore House, it is my favorite market in the city.
The long rows of sheds are filled to the brim with delights. Jars of honey glisten in the golden sun, cured hams hang from poles in their cotton sacks, baskets and crates overflow with seasonal vegetables and fruit, jars of homemade jams and jellies stacked up on tables and right about now the pumpkins would be out for sale. For someone who is not familiar with Southern food culture, it is quite an experience.
There is this wonderful smell in the air of warm hay, soil, vegetables, peanuts being boiled and apples just picked from the orchards being dipped in rich oozing caramel, all intermixed with the coolness in the air and the warmth of the people around you.
Yesterday, would have been a good market day if the weather in Asheville was like it was here. To just stroll through the sheds and stock up on apple butter and fresh honey and a few pieces of country ham, to sizzle up on Sunday morning with grits and fresh buttermilk biscuits.