Officially the calendar still says it's summer, but the world outside my window says otherwise. The green of summer is quickly being overtaken by the yellows, oranges, and browns of the season. The apple trees are loaded with apples. They aren't as beautiful as they usually are. The rainy, rainy summer took it's toll on lots of things, the apples included. But there are lots of them, and when turned into sauce or pie or cider, it won't matter that they weren't perfect. The pumpkins are ripening--one of the few things that we managed to grow in the garden this year. There are acorns on the ground everywhere. The deer will be very happy. I always feel badly for them when the acorn crop is sparse. Those acorns will get you though if you aren't careful. They are like little ball bearings. I was coming down the bank from the fire pit with a cat (who doesn't like to abide by the evening curfew) in my arms, and one of those acorns got me. Luckily, it was a fairly gentle landing, and I didn't lose the cat. The hay-scented ferns smell lovely out there. The crickets sing 24/7. September is a lovely time of year here in Maine.
But back to summer... It was a struggle, this summer was. So much rain. Inches and inches and inches at a time, day after day after day. But our well is full, which is something to be thankful for since there are Septembers where that is a big concern. And we did have some nice days scattered in here and there, for which we were even more thankful than usual because they were so few. The nicest stretch of the whole summer ended up falling exactly on our annual camping week. Glorious sunshine all week long. It was so perfect.
On the maple syrup front, we are hoping that the record breaking rainfall doesn't affect next spring's maple season negatively. It's so hard to know sometimes how the trees will respond to different things like that. Normally it is good for the trees to go into the dormant season with plenty of water. But there is such a thing as "too much of a good thing", and we're a bit concerned that might be the case here. We will find out in the spring...
We fired up the bottler this week and bottled 30 gallons of absolutely beautiful maple syrup. The shelves are completely stocked with everyone's favorites. We have some new half-gallon glass jugs that we are going to be listing online soon. We're also going to get the one gallon plastic jugs listed. Up until now the largest size we have shipped has been the half-gallons, but we have folks asking about the gallons, so we're excited to start offering those.
I always try to finish off a post with a recipe involving maple syrup. There are so many ways to enjoy it. This time it's good old fashioned oatmeal. I found the basic recipe years ago in the Joy of Cooking cookbook, and it's the very best. It's enough for 2 big servings, or 3 to 4 smaller servings.
Old Fashioned Oatmeal
2 cups of water
dash of salt
1-1/2 cups of rolled oats
1/3 to 1/2 cup raisins
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
half-and-half (or other milk/cream of your choice)
Bring water and dash of salt to rolling boil. Add rolled oats and raisins. Allow it to return to full boil, then turn down heat till you get a gentle boil. Cook until oats soften and all of water is absorbed, stirring often--5 minutes or so. Remove from heat and add vanilla and cinnamon. To each serving add a few pats of butter. Let it melt before drizzling on maple syrup and half-and-half. Enjoy!