Apple Crisp for Breakfast

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We have one apple tree. The first year we lived in this house it was loaded with apples. Come October we had plenty for pies and jam and whatnot. Last year we had exactly zero apples. Spring frost got all the blossoms. This year we returned to the bounty of that first year.

These are Red Delicious apples. Those are your standard, stereotypical apples. You know the ones. They look like, well, like a storybook apple–red and shiny and tapered a bit at the base. They are terrible. Well, most of them are terrible. I would never buy Red Delicious apples from a supermarket; they are bland and mushy and dry. But these Red Delicious are, indeed, delicious.

These are sweet and juicy and crisp. I took advantage of their current ripeness to make an apple crisp today. I woke early, the only one awake, so I got cracking. I peeled and sliced and stirred and assembled a fine apple crisp. After 45 minutes and a house full of apple odor I pulled a perfect breakfast from the oven.

I know apple crisp is not your typical American breakfast, but if we can eat donuts and danishes they we can eat a fresh apple crisp. And it was, as expected, enjoyable to consume. I only had one bowl, at first, but I did have seconds later in the morning. Hard to resist, that.

I put the rest in the fridge, even though it is tempting to eat the whole dang thing. A guy needs to eat something for breakfast tomorrow, you hear what I’m saying?

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Another Christmas Tree

Weekend after Thanksgiving–time to get a Christmas tree. Maybe it seems early to some, but we figure we might as well celebrate the season as long as we can. We went to Martel’s tree farm in Williston and cut a fine fir. It is worth visiting that tree farm just to get the view. It was a beautiful day so we saw snow on Mount Mansfield and Camel’s Hump and a long stretch of the Green Mountains. Lake Iroquois rippled in the breeze down the hill. And the smell of cut fir drifted over it all. We tied it to the car and hauled it over the town line.

We had to do some trimming to get it the right size. It was just a little too tall but we managed to make it work just right. The kids took a critical hand in trimming it so the bottom third is heavier with ornaments than the top two thirds. We strung lights–pink and blue and white and decked our humble halls with other delights, some made on the spot by the children who live here. They had a fine time of it. We hauled out the box of holiday CD’s and found the holiday tracks on Pandora internet radio and we made the transition to December with only a few bumps. Here is the before and after:

 

Fresh From the Hill

Decked Out for the Holidays

 

 

Trimming the Trees

Yesterday my wife mowed the lawn.  That was a bit of a messy task, given how wet the lawn has been.  She left tire tracks all over the place.  But it had to be done.  It is raining again as I write this.  The amusing bit, however, was when she tried to mow under the silver maple tree.  We have this beautiful tree, maybe 25 years old, and it grows, like all silver maples, faster than most trees.  The branches have been hanging lower and lower, some of them almost reaching the ground.  The mower has taken a wider and wider path around the tree.  It just gets too scratchy trying to blast through the low branches.  So I took some action.

I started yesterday, clipping the lowest branches.  I had a good pile of branches going before I quit.  Today I busted out a ladder and finished the job.  Well, I finished the trimming part.  I had a big honking pile of brush by the time I was done, and my son was having a blast playing in it.  He has the peddle ride on tractor and he started by hauling the branches into the woods.  He got tired of that after, I don’t know, one load, and then just romped in the leaves and sticks.  He sat neck deep next to his “crashed” tractor.  He wanted to have a picnic in the pile.  I got him a cup of pretzels.

Later, once the sun had dried things a little, I started in on the endless house painting project.  One corner of the house has some lovely lilac and pine trees surrounding it.  It looks nice but it was a bear trying to move around them.  So I busted out the saw.  I have been meaning to prune these anyway.  Last winter we would be kept awake by the pines scraping the side of the house whenever it got windy enough.  Those wily branches needed to go.  I lopped and sawed and now I’ve got some room to work.

I had one other issue, however.   We had two bushes on the south side of the house, the same one I am trying to get painted first.  One of them succumbed to what we think was some kind of fungus.  I cut that puppy down in the spring.  The other one is now kicking the bucket and I need to cut it down before it gets too far gone.  It right in front of a window I need to get at.  The problem is that is it an evergreen with needles.  When the needles are green, they are smooth and soft.  When they get dry and brown, each tiny needle is just that–a needle.  Those babies are so sharp and so persistent they make me just about cry.  Getting one of those in a shoe is painful I tell you.

I started in on this bush but I had to be careful.  I was wearing shorts and Crocs, of all things.  This was fine for scraping and sanding, but not so fine for cutting back the needle bush.  I did manage to cut enough that I can now maneuver at the window.  Of course, the thing looks truly wretched now–a hacked and mangled, jagged, green and brown protrusion.  Now I really need to get that thing out of there.

Since it is raining again, I won’t be able to sand first thing tomorrow.  Looks like I’ll need to slide into some pants, put on my heavy jacket, don the gloves and goggles, and have at that bush.  It’s tough, but I’ll show it the what for.  I’ll make sure to wear some better shoes.

Christmas Tree Still Up

January 9.  The Christmas tree is still standing.  Decorated no less.  That’s 42 days it has been indoors.  Dead no less.  It will come down this weekend, tomorrow or the next day.  So it will get at least 43 days of glory, dressed in the best we could offer–shiny glass and steel and plastic.  But it will be a fire hazard soon, if it ever wasn’t one.

Now we will have a little more space in the house.  And we will use a little less electricity.  But it has been nice to have around.  Maybe we can put something else in its place.  A basket of fruit?  A cardboard cutout of Chewbacca?  A bean bag chair?  Maybe a pile of attractive rocks?

Nah.  Let’s just get this thing out of here.  Come spring it will fertilize the blueberries.  No need to waste a perfectly good untrimmed Christmas tree, no?

Christmas Tree Erection

The Saturday after Thanksgiving is the day we have gotten our Christmas tree in the past and we continued that tradition today.  We cut our own from Martel’s farm in Williston.  The place has an incredible view of the Green Mountains, Lake Iroquois and the town of Williston, so it is worth the trip just for that.  We got some help tying to the top of the car and drove slowly home.

This tree is tall and skinny, unlike the rotund jobbers of the past two years.  It is a long boy.  We stood it up and trimmed it this afternoon.  Christmas has arrived.  In a few days we start the advent calendars.  Now we just need some snow.  And it looks like tomorrow we will get some.  Snow day on Monday?

Before the Trimming

Before the Trimming

Avec Trimmings

Avec Trimmings

Apple Tree

We inherited an old apple tree when we moved into this house.  The previous owner told us that it never bore fruit.  It blossomed each spring but no apples appeared.  The first fall we were here, a couple of years ago, I pruned that baby good.  I cut lots of wood from it and, behold, we had apples the next year.

We had a lot of apples this fall.  Too many, in fact.  I haven’t gotten the equipment to make applesauce or cider or to can what I might make.  Part of the challenge is that apples are Red Delicious.  They are tasty, but they do not ripen until October.  Maybe in September we will get a few, but we have a narrow window between ripe and hard frost to get to them.  It just doesn’t happen as well as I’d like.

Recently, I was listening to The Splendid Table, a program on Vermont Public Radio.  The hosts were talking about apples, since this is the season, and they dissed the Red Delicious.  Granted, I would agree with them if they were referring to the mushy and sort-of sweet Red Delicious that gets piled up in supermarkets and whose silhouette has become the symbol of appleness.  But the apples on our tree (once they finally get ripe) are way sweeter and juicier than those sad pretenders.  I was sorry to hear them put down a variety in its entirety.  Those fruitists!

We have a flock of wild turkeys that like to hang around here.  These days they can be found late in the day and early in the morning, those crepuscular hours when the light is muted, bobbing about under the apple tree, poking at the drops.  They have gotten a few meals there.  I don’t begrudge them, especially when they snack on the mealy ones taken over by worms.  They can have those.  Plus, those ugly drops keep them from flapping into the branches and taking the good ones.

I will take some time to prune the tree this fall or perhaps in the first days of spring.  We will get more apples next spring I am sure.  What I need to do is plant a couple more trees, give us some species variety, as well as an earlier crop.   It would be nice to count on having some apples in September.  And we should get our hands in a cider press, have a good old fashioned cider pressing party.

That would make those late apples, even the ones that might not offer their full flavor, well worth it.  I don’t care what reputation Red Delicious may have.