Caramel Apples: The Sweet Rituals of Fall

I heard gunshots this morning, an early sign of the approaching season.

Every September they begin (It's always hunting season in Wisconsin, it seems), just about the time I am tumbling out of bed and shuffling downstairs for the strong and hot cup of coffee that will nudge me into the shower and eventually propel me out the door. I am no fan of guns, but these shots remind me of the welcome rhythms of the season (and in any case, they are coming from the other side of the river or perhaps the wetland a quarter mile away, known in the old days as Hunter's Slough).

There are other seasonal markers to appreciate: The smell of woodsmoke at night, the pumpkin stands along the highway, the skeins of geese that fly overhead at dusk, our sudden preference for red wine and hearty stews and soups. And caramel apples in the grocery store. We have made our own a time or two, but it has become tradition for me buy the first one of the season as an offering to my husband.

I bring it home and present it to him with a small bit of ceremony, a smile, a slight bow, a kiss. It might be silly of me, it might not be, but it is a ritual I enjoy and I think he does, too. We are adults with all too many responsibilities, but our relationship is based on a million silly little gestures, too. I like them, all of them. They, too, are part of life's rhythms.

Caramel apples, succotash, pumpkin pie, apple cider: The first taste of each in the fall is a marker of sorts, an essential rituals that provides us with a measure of security and sweetness.

It is early in the season yet, and there is much ahead to savor and appreciate.

What is your first culinary ritual of the fall?


Eileen said…
I love this time of year, even tho' it's very sad seeing the fresh berries and tomatoes of summer at an end. I always pull my mother's recipe for apple crisp (up-dated slightly by me, of course)and start looking for Minnesota grown apples. Reagan Daley's, The Sweet Kitchen, has a great recipe for roasted cinnamon ice cream that's incredible on top of my apple crisp.
I now make apple crisp year round, Eileen. It's just my favorite dessert. One of these days, I'll do another post on it. Soon, I think. It's definitely apple crisp weather in Northern Wisconsin.
MaryRuth said…
I hear gunshots too, but it sure don't mean caramel apple time! It usually means the helicopter is coming soon.
I don't have a ritual food like yours, but I definitely will be making soup pretty soon. But a caramel apple does sound pretty good right now.
I leave tonight for a week in SE Wisconsin...hope to hit a farmers market or two while I'm there.
LOL, MaryRuth.

Whoever is hunting nearby must be hunting mourning doves.
Judy said…
I love anything appley. Is that a word? I think I may start with an apple strudel this weekend. I've been really amiss at reading you lately. I have to get caught up now. Shame on me. I know you've said how hard it is keeping up with working, blogging and life and it is so true. The day is never long enough.
No, Judy, the day is way too short.

I will make something appley, this weekend too. I hope.

If not, I will do it once I get to France and I have more time.
Fuji Mama said…
Making either an apple crisp with apples off of the trees at my parents house, or pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. I made the apple crisp a couple of days ago, so I guess it's time for those cookies!
Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies sound wonderful, FM. I think a big part of it is the idea of making them - it just sounds like it would be a comforting and fun thing to do.
Sandie said…
Just discovered your blog, it's lovely and your food looks divine.

We used to live near WI, to the northwest of Chicago (we now live in KC). When you mentioned hearing the shots from local gave me pangs of homesickness. Really. You just don't hear those kinds of things in the city, and it's surprisingly how quickly you forget moments like that.
Hi Sandie! I know exactly what you mean! I've visited Old World Wisconsin a couple of times in the fall and heard the gun shots of nearby hunters. That sound of gunshots, coupled with the old buildings and restored barns, really created an incredible atmosphere.
Kristen said…
Anything pumpkin related...pumpkin bars, pupkin pie, pumpkin lattes. Nothing says fall to me like pumpkins.

Of course, chili and soup are right up there. I can never wait until it gets cold enough to have the first chili of the season!

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