08 September 2006

Apple Cider Making

It’s 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 some friends 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 the hostess'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. The hostess 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 the hostess 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.

7 comments:

Jann said...

What a great story........I can smell the lamb roasting. Once before I die, I would like to be invited to such a festivity. I have the friends, but not the apples! Happy Cooking!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Mimi, that is simply a beautiful story to tell on an evening such as this! Like Jann I would love to spend many evenings making food and memories such as that! You are truly blessed with good friends and good food. I can well imagine that the lamb perfumed the air.

Katie said...

I'm not sure which appeals more: the rainy evening, the cider making or the dinner....And the apples...sigh! We thought about trying our hand at cider making last year but the grapes are hard enough work. I'll stick to apple crisp.

Mimi said...

It was a wonderful evening because of the food and the people, but also because we all learned something about cider making. I imagine those who were working the press were pretty stiff or achy the next day.

Thank you all for visiting!

L Vanel said...

I love apple cider, having grown up in upstate New York. I miss it very much. Thank you for the window into your world, Mimi.

christine said...

Beautiful story Mimi. I can smell the lamb and the apples just as surely as if I'd been there!

Mimi said...

Those evenings when we are united by food, or in this case, beverage making AND food, are really special, especially, it seems, this time of year.

Thank you for sharing this with me.