It’s cool and damp and rainy here tonight, a good night for hunkering down at home with a big bowl of popcorn and maybe a cool mug of apple cider.
It was a night just like this that Bruce and Laurie held their annual cider-making party last year. I was among the dozen or so guests who began preparing bushels and bushels of apples late in the afternoon.
The five varieties of apples, picked at a nearby orchard a week earlier, had been left to mature for a few days.
Working an old-fashioned cider press is hard work, and it was left to the more muscular guests, thankfully.
It seemed to take hours. Meanwhile, an herb-encrusted lamb roast cooked on a covered outdoor grill, perfuming the air outside. In the kitchen, three separate casseroles of potatoes, squash and green beans cooked in Laurie’s big ovens. Two different fruit desserts cooled atop the stove. A fire roared away in the living room, and bottles of a peppery red and a nippy white wine were set out for guests to sample.
Dinner was served as soon as the apple pomace had been made into liquid.
We filled two tables, one in the dining room and one in the kitchen. Laurie joined us at the kitchen table and the talk turned to plays, music, restoring old houses and even, perhaps because of the dark evening and the approaching fall holiday, ghosts and unexplained occurrences.
The guests were a diverse and eclectic group, representing all segments of our small town, for Laurie is a collector of interesting people. What struck me was how often food and dinner tables serve as uniters.
Dinner conversation lasted until nearly 11 p.m., from salad to apple crisp and (decaf) coffee. I was sorry to leave, but Laurie sent us all on our way with a plate of leftovers. Eventually, each of us received a jug of apple cider, too.
I won't be making apple cider tonight. But my kitchen is warm and my house is cozy and redolent of roasted peppers and autumn vegetables. Not a bad beginning to a rainy night at home.