Fall is just wonderful. Fall in the Northwest is even better. The days grow shorter, the air gets that nice snap! to it, and best of all, the foliage all changes outfits again.
Yes, of course, its very cliche of me to write about fall. Bite me, I don’t care. You see, all day, I sit at my desk in front of a window. And out this window is a huge maple tree. No, I mean HUGE. And for the last week and a half or so, this tree has been transforming. Those leaves might be dying, but that is the most beautiful depiction of death I have ever seen. The deep green faded to a light green, which then lightened to a brilliant yellow. So now, my window is filled with this glorious yellow tree, bringing so much sunshine into my happy little world.
All over the valley, splashes of color stand out against the hillsides, roadsides and mountain slopes. I recently discovered the larch – new favorite! J and I took his visiting momma on a little trek up Goat Mountain a few weekends ago. Maybe half way up or so, we started crunching through snow, and soon it covered the trail. For once, I wasn’t worried (which made for a slipping, stumbling me) – I was so distracted by the beautiful neon larches, against the bright fresh snow, with the spectacular views in the distance. The top of the peak, however, exposed us to some brutally cold wind. Momma J and I huddled for warmth, munching on our snack-lunch and trying to enjoy the 360-degrees of awesomeness. It was a chilly, slippery hike back down, but SO worth it.
As I’m discovering this phenomenon of “changing seasons,” I’m finding more and more wonderful things. The most delicious – the fruit trees. I probably experience this more than the average person, being that I live in an orchard and all. My favorite is going for a run and snagging a couple Golden Delicious off the tree by the corner of the driveway for an after-run snack while I stretch. Yum! And now we have fresh, organic honeycrisp cider in the fridge. I swear they lace the juice with crack – its so addicting! If you happen to be in Washington or Oregon this winter and stop at Whole Foods, look for Mazama Juice – that’s my cider!!
Despite my intense excitement over the ripening apples, J is the one who really went wild, drying tons of them in the dehydrator. I went crazy with the plums. Did you know I can bake, and really well? Me neither! I also never knew I could do so much with all my plums, since I don’t have all the equipment for canning. Jam was out, as was Plum Wine, also for lack of equipment. But I’ve made loaves and loaves of sweet plum bread! And after testing a few recipes, I have now made several Perfect Purple Plum Pies! I went on such a baking spree one day, even some of J’s apples got tossed in and out came apple crisp! Spinning around barefoot in my nice warm kitchen, belting along with Randy Rogers, licking the batter bowl as I set the timer for the goodies that just went in – oh perfection. And on top off all that, I dried and froze even more plums for later. I can’t wait for the cold snowy days that just beg for something sweet in the oven, filling the house with delicious aromas that nearly give you a sugar-high just walking by. I’ll keep you posted on what the winter baking season brings!
I plan on loads of cooking adventures this winter, in between my cross country ski excursions and attempting to stay in one piece on my snowboard. Ideas/recipes always welcome, although I prefer company around to consume the results so my hips don’t expand like a hot air balloon. So toss on your snow tires, throw the skis in the back, and pull on your puff jacket for a visit to the Methow Valley! I mean come on - I’m bribing you with baked goods!! :D