Apples put full-court press on October
Whenever anyone says, “I just love this time of year,” I cringe. I’m all about fire and ice — I have no use for the shoulder seasons (say that five times fast).
Each September I mourn the end of swimming season. The colder days force me to rustle through my sock drawer to find ones that match and shove my calloused and toe-nail-less feet into closed toe shoes.
Most days I can’t figure out what to wear so I carry a bag of extra layers around. Sometimes, halfway through a pint of seasonal ale, I have to run to the car for jeans and fleece.
I didn’t like football until somewhat recently. Football is a perfectly good thing to sit in front of on a stormy afternoon or during Christmas time between leftover raids of the refrigerator, but on a perfectly sunny day?
It was once suggested that if I fly fished I wouldn’t look at fall as this impediment – this long, drawn-out season when I can neither swim nor ski. Spending entire Sundays watching NFL is not an option.
When I was first out of college and most of my friends were watching NFL pre-game, post-game and everything in between, I would cook a week’s worth of food, go for dog walks and maybe watch a quarter or two of a game between bastings.
Fall is the time for cattle gathering, big game and bird hunting, steelhead fishing and preserving what’s left in the garden and the orchard — as much as I love food, I have forced myself to stop my pouting and celebrate the season’s abundance.
A partially failed attempt at plum pie prompted me to ask for advice from a friend who knows her way around plum barbecue sauce and jam. With her suggestions, I got to watch a box of Utah plums be transformed into both jam and sauce last weekend – and oh boy what chipotle peppers and plums can do for baby back ribs!
Melons from the borderlands of Colorado and Utah make wonderful margaritas and martinis, and green chiles from the same region are in the freezer awaiting culinary creations of the future.
Locally, there’s still much to glean. Last weekend my scout and I salvaged roadside apples from the mid-valley to the far west end of the county. They are getting juicy in the root cellar waiting for this weekend’s apple press.
Covering a Wallowa County Food Council workshop Monday morning I discovered that there are apple presses galore this month so I invite my fellow Northeastern Oregonians to take advantage of the fruit of long-neglected homesteaders’ orchards and get to your local press.
This Saturday a press will be in operation at the finale of the Joseph Farmers Market. There will be a press at Tamkaliks Powwow Grounds in Wallowa on Oct. 20, as well as at June’s Local Market in Lostine Oct. 20 and 21.
What better way to preserve mismatched flavors and sizes of apples than in cider? By the time of the NCAA basketball tournament and the end of ski season, a glass of sparkling apples sounds like the perfect complement to roast venison or elk back-strap medallions.