Harvest is here and the village and hedgerows are laden with sumptuous treats! Apples are everywhere and almost every villager has offered us some of the bountiful produce! Our dear new neighbours, the Worthingtons have an orchard the other side of the fence which is truly to die for and what is more dear Reader, is that they have said that we can pick apples until we drop! I have, of course, taken them up on that offer. Oooh I am already planning endless crumbles, tarte tatins, jellies, apple butters, chutney……delicious….and it is not even National Apple Day (21st October).
Armed with an apple picker, Primrose, Poppy and I spent a glorious afternoon gathering apples and learning all about old English varieties of cookers and eaters. Mrs Worthington is now known as ‘apple lady’ according to Poppy. Trampling in and amongst the apple trees, I was reminded of why we moved to the countryside in the first place – a desire to lead a simpler life. Well, Margot’s idea of a simpler life at any rate! There will be no knitting of yoghurt here! On a sunny day in September, it was heavenly to watch my own dear dots scrambling through the apple boughs and munching on their treasured finds. At that moment, I could honestly not imagine anything better! My mind is now full of ideas of growing my own mini orchard once we have tackled the jungle that is the garden. Perhaps it was the talk of cider that got me thinking about my own apples and the need for an apple press?
With our baskets laden, we skipped home to cook an apple cake. I know what you are thinking, dear Reader….MARGOT DOES NOT MAKE CAKES. This is true. However, the girls called for cake and I was desperate to use my new gadget. All hail the miraculous apple peeler and thank the Lord for Nigel Slater who has a really easy cake recipe which even this baking criminal can manage!
Girls merrily scoffing cake, I had time to panic about the annual village Harvest lunch. The form is that everyone makes something for the table and I have been asked to prepare a shepherd’s pie. Nothing too extraordinary about that – shepherd’s pie is shepherd’s pie. Well I think it is at any rate but you never know, the village might have an ancient pie tradition which I haven’t discovered as yet. The real anxiety, resting pie issues to one side, is that in addition to the culinary part comes a request for a harvest floral display for the village church. Oh dear! I have been frantically researching autumn displays and wreaths for days now and I am still none the wiser. Where is a local florist when you need one? Do they not realise that I am townie and know nothing of arranging flowers? At this rate, I might just have to hang apples from the church ceiling in a decorative fashion…….apple bobbing anyone?!