Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tea and Apples

This afternoon a good sized group gathered in the old kitchen of Hart House to watch a demonstration of the traditional skills involved in making the most of a seasonal staple. Nina Garrett showed us how to begin with a few pounds of grounders, or seconds from the farm stand, or even a large bag of grocery store apples, and make applesauce. Using a hotplate and her mother's chinois she produced a lovely unsweetened, unspiced base that could be modified to suit your own taste. Once the sauce was finished she demonstrated how the liquid drained off in the process could be made into jelly, and how some of the sauce could be preserved as apple butter - a form of jam, and nothing at all to do with butter. While she was working she told how the cores and peels of whatever fruit you were using for pies, fruit salads or any other dish that called for sliced fruit, could also be boiled up for jelly. And when you're all finished you can pour boiling water over the remains and steep a nice apple drink. Also on offer was the secret of a tempting recipe called 'compost jelly.' While the apple jelly simmered towards its setting point tea was served in the dining room, with cake, frost on the pumpkin mini muffins, and a variety of scones, all perfect for spreading with apple preserves.

Outside in the garden the recent rain had produced a crop of impressive mushrooms in the wildflower garden, perfectly presenting three stages of maturity - ripe perfection, the open form of the first decline, and the shrivelled decay that sets in only a day or two later.

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