Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Linda's Cardamom Apple Butter

When we moved to Michigan almost four years ago, my friend Linda gave me a box of fruits and vegetables that she had canned that summer - prunes soaked in armagnac, rhubarb nectar, pickled carrots, dilly beans, strawberry sauce - a gift of labor and love. I savored each jar and shared them only with our family and closest friends. I thought I had eaten everything in the box long ago but this weekend, I found a jar of Linda's cardamom apple butter in the back of my pantry. I opened it on Sunday morning to share with our friends Anne and David and their son Quinn who came over for a pancake breakfast. It was delicious. After they left, we ate it as a spread on a slice of Zingerman's 8-grain 3-seed bread toasted with butter. And if I didn't have to worry about my waistline (which I don't do often but somehow eating a whole stick of butter, a loaf of bread, and a jar of cardamom apple butter seems a bit excessive) I would have eaten the entire spread in one sitting. There is only a few tablespoons of the cardamom apple butter left. Caroline loved it so tomorrow, I will put a dollop of it on top of her yogurt for her afternoon snack.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, April 9: Breakfast - banana oat muffin, pearsauce; Lunch - winter squash and chicken stew with Indian spices, 100% whole grain bread, mixed vegetables; Snacks - whole milk plain yogurt, cardamom apple butter, whole wheat graham crackers

Childcare Center Menu, April 9: Breakfast - applesauce, blueberry muffins; Lunch - BBQ chicken, salad, honeydew, wheat bread, mashed potatoes; Snacks - trail mix, watermelon

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

what a delight to hear you share the story of that summer of canning. As I remember, that was the summer I committed to canning, eating "pie for dinner" and taking the time to indulge in baseball. I met those goals to various degrees. I am glad that the summer of '04 is still alive in your life.
There is so much information packed inside your entry for today. So I'll just jump in and get my hands dirty.
Pie for Dinner- if this ritual in my family's life were to land in an institution it would look like what institutions try to create to bring lost practices back to the table. For us, Pie for Dinner- and I do capitalize it because it is totemic- means anything that resembles a pie made of nearly anything. Sometimes it is apple pie with WSU Cougar Gold Cheddar and a salad. Leftovers become the best incentive for a teenager to rise from slumber, have breakfast and get to school on time. Another kind of pie for dinner is a real NW spring treat. Stinging nettle calzone. A pie indeed and an extraordinary spring green tonic packed inside a crust with cheese. Contrary to most people in my family, I prefer green pies to fruit pies but will happily meet our fruit servings through rhubarb pie as an entree.

I so appreciate what you have written about the cardamom apple butter (and all the other goodies). They are beings of labor and love. They have stories and lives just like us. When my freezer is full of berries, pork, summer sauce or greens and my pantry full of local organic grains like farro and frekeh, I am rich in bounty. But when I know the stories and tell the stories to myself when I raid the freezer, then I am dining with the friends that grew the food. Often my table feels like there are more people present at it than are actually in chairs.

I have watched, listened to, and been amazed by the people who can (or try to) count the food miles attached to their meals. It puzzles me because I think of the stories that are attached to the food I eat. The faces come as the farmer, the chef, the friend whose recipe it is, the memory of when I had it or the conversation that took place with it. Sometimes I have to put the food on a dish that commands as much reverence as that which comes out of the oven. Sometimes one sometimes many faces flood my vision as I cook.

So, thanks for adding Caroline, toast, a deep dark cupboard holding a treasure and the confession that there is a four year old jar of cardamom apple butter that is still good to the story. Linda

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