Wednesday, September 22, 2010

That Time of Year...

Once a year I bring out my monster pots.
Ok, to be honest they come out at other times too, but only when my brother-in-law  is here.
He is notorious for excessive cooking. I'm not sure if it is the waste of time and energy that goes into making all that extra food or just the pure enjoyment of watching me attempt to cram the heaping gobs of leftovers into my inadequate storage receptacles that spurs him on, visit after visit, but whatever, that really belongs in a different blog with an entirely different choice of adjectives.
So, honestly, there is only one time of year that I bring out my monster sized pots along with all the do-dads that get stored in them when they're not boiling up twenty-five pounds of mashed potatoes or sixty-seven pounds of spaghetti. Ah-hem. Sorry.
 And that time of year is early fall when the apples are ripening here in Kansas.
When the days don't get quite so hot,
it was only 91 today
and the mornings are cool enough to run without the fear of going blind from sweat dripping in your eye.
I am not sure there is any medical proof that one could suffer blindness from dripping sweat in one's eye, but I don't feel it's necessary to take any chances.
I love the fall.
I was born in fall. It has always seemed to me that may be why I love it, again no medical proof, but regardless, I love everything about it...
 the temperatures, the colors, the food, everything but the allergies.
Fall is when you start to light the wood stove.
It's when you start to curl up with a book all evening and not feel guilty that you aren't doing something more productive.
It's when you start to feel that brisk little snap in your lungs with the first breath of morning that makes you feel awake and alive and anxious to see the sky.
And best of all, fall is when you open the window to feel a cool breeze while you heat up the kitchen with baking.
Now, I've never been shy on my feelings for cooking.
I hate cooking. 
Hate, abhor, detest, loath, are we getting the picture here?
I am to cooking as a fish is to gasping for breath on a dry sandy beach.
But baking...
that is how we get cake.
I think cake speaks for itself.
So where in the scheme of these two similar yet polar opposites do apples and giant pots rest?

I'm not entirely sure...

Peeling, coring, and slicing up apples feels more like baking.
And adding things like sugar, cinnamon, and allspice, well now those are definitely baking ingredients, but running it through a meat grinder and standing over a stove certainly feels like cooking.
 Of course it does have the whole scientific experiment element.
Boiling jars and using rubber coated tongs and funnels adds something of a chemistry kit fun to the whole thing.
And I can't escape the romance of history.
The idea that pioneer women, dotting the Kansas countryside, stood over pots stirring and canning... that I can shadow those women of the past, repeating the same process, all be it on a glass top stove instead of cast iron. It is an appealing notion.

But all in all, I think the thing that really sways me is the end,

the line-up.

God help me, I know I'm a freak about matching sets and straight lines,
but there is just something about taking those identical little jars full of sweet cinnamon-apply goo and lining them up.

If I could afford a shrink I'm sure he would diagnose me with something that would explain my straight line psychosis,

perhaps even medicate me.

But, for now, I will have to feed that addiction each fall with a day full of peeling, chopping, grinding, mixing, stirring, boiling, and sealing,

just to get those pretty little lines of homemade apple butter.