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Monday, October 20, 2008

October Days

This is some of the prettiest weather I've ever seen. Golden sun, filtered by orange and red leaves during the day, warm as a summer afternoon, then cool nights. The grass is deep emerald from the bit of rain we had in September (it doesn't rain much on this peninsula.) The leaves are delicate red, gold and bronze. Nothing like in New England, but with their own charm, to be sure.

We spent Sunday afternoon after church at the home of friends, Mennonite dairy farmers. Their church rotates the hostess after service, and those that wish, come for a meal and good fellowship. So the usual 8 person dinner table in the farm kitchen was expanded to hold almost 20, I think. 

As usual, the men sit conversing separate from the women (they had the parlor or front room) and the gals sat in the main family room. The seating at lunch was by couples. We had roast beef, fresh cut creamed corn (you will never open a can again, after you have this.) Also roast potatoes, jello with crushed strawberry puree (a fave of the kids) and bread with apple butter. There was a choice of sour cream or cream cheese for the potatoes. Dessert was similar to our last lunch at another farmer's--sheet cake, ice cream and a fruit sauce. In this case, it was peaches in a thick sauce, like a pie filling only not as sweet. Someone remarked that the box of ice cream was a lot smaller--the size typical for that brand's specialty flavors, not plain vanilla. I quipped that it was because of the high milk prices and we all had a laugh. When the corn prices rose early this year to sky-high levels, it was a serious question whether dairying made any sense anymore, since milk prices are controlled, but grain prices are not--and cows have to eat, like the rest of us. 

After, the conversation continues. The men apparently discussed politics and the world, we women discussed more mundane things such as travel, who was getting married, and how to fix the welt of a suit pocket that tore out when a child used it as a handhold when climbing on Papa. Here, my grandmother's instructions in "invisible weaving" were useful.  

We left at 4pm, the cows needing milking. They were glistening black, red and brown in the sun and galloping around playfully. Even they look somehow more radiant in this beautiful time of year.  

Sheet Cake with Ice Cream and Fruit Compote:

Make a white sheet cake with white icing--any standard white cake made in a long sheet pan will do, ice with white confectionere's butter cream icing. 


Take any fresh fruit and cook down; some ideas are peaches, apples, cherries, blackberries.  Sweeten to taste and thicken with cornstarch slurry or arrowroot or tapioca. Serve at room temperature along with ice cream (vanilla) and the cake. A 3" square of cake suffices as a serving with the accompaniments, so you might find a 18 x  9 cake will serve quite a few .

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