10.7.14 Fall Back, October Hot Links & Cider Syrup

Marsh 790 xxx
photos by george billard
I wish I had time to write in this space more often. There is so much to share with you that sometimes I am bursting at the seams with little anecdotes and kitchen discoveries and amazing new ideas I have come across. Then I sit down and inevitably feel overwhelmed at the thought of organizing it all into something coherent, meaningful and useful. But I am seizing a few moments today to get lots of it down here with little regard for rhyme or reason. The organizing principle is essentially "things I am thinking about and loving right now." These include some beautiful photos my husband took on a walk in the woods last week; a bunch of links I have been hoarding for you; and a recipe for cider syrup, a thick, sweetly complex elixir made by simply boiling down apple cider. I'm already enjoying mine immensely mixed with Dickel whiskey, apple cider vinegar and cardamom-fennel bitters for a cocktail I call the All Fall Down (after what happens when you drink too many...not that I would know about that).
Bleached fern 790 xxx
bleached blonde
Signs of fall are everywhere. It's still dark when I rise. I crave my morning cup of milky chai with its warming spices and sublime aroma. Fleece booties have replaced my Barbara Shaum sandals. (Looking for a good pair of cozy slippers? I covet these.) Green is gradually being overtaken by scarlet, russet, fiery orange, gold, pale yellow and brown.
Puffballs 790 xxx
Sadly, it has not been a good season for mushrooms. Only one chicken mushroom and no hen of the woods thus far. It's been pretty dry and perhaps that is the reason. I think back to the post-hurricane fall of 2011 and feel deprived.
Turkeys 790 xxx
flock of regals
Wild turkeys are out and about. It's nearly impossible to get close enough to take their picture. Run at them and they will take off in ungainly flight, their great wings flapping awkwardly. Their plumage looks like some sort of gorgeous prehistoric armour.
Grouse 790 xxx
stop grousing

At the end of that walk in the woods, we came across this dead grouse lying in the grass at the edge of the road. It was in perfect condition, except for a broken neck. G said we could not eat it because we didn't know how it had died, but we felt fairly sure it had been hit by a car. Had it been killed by an animal, it would have been eaten, not abandonded. My friend Juliette, who is learning taxidermy, asked me to collect it and keep it in our freezer for her. I felt pretty squeamish handling it, even though it was fresh and beautiful. I wore gloves and wrapped it in freezer paper before sealing it in a ziploc bag. It's basically just a chicken and I've been quite intimate with those. Not like that, like this.

And now, without further ado, some hot links...

I'm not a Jenna worshipper, but I love reading about other women's beauty routines

Almost as much as I like seeing the contents of someone's fridge

I have been fantasizing about a trip to Montréal - maybe you will get there first?

Cannabis cuisine, anyone?

An excellent guide to home mixology by a true master

A fun event taking place upstate this weekend

More podcast suggestions 

Because how you die is just as important as how you are born

I believe it should be our choice

Good for a laugh (especially if you adore the inimitable John Malkovich)

It turns out Meryl Streep never said these words, they are from José Micard Teixeira

Maybe you'd like to treat yourself to something from Anson Mills

Or one of these new cookbooks (I'll post my reviews of some of them soon)

Isn't it time we learned how to make our own dosas?

And char our own salads? (I'm going to assume this can also be made in a cast iron skillet)

A few things to do with apples from my archive: cake, butter, sauce

Will I eventually look like this?

Yet another reason to get your hands dirty

In a moment of domestic coziness, make this cider syrup! You'll enjoy it over oatmeal, pancakes or ice cream; stirred into club soda; or, best of all, let's face it, combined with whiskey and a splash of cider vinegar for a delicious fall cocktail. xo


Cider Syrup II

makes 2 cups
  • — 1/2 gallon fresh apple cider
  • — 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • — 2 star anise
  • — 1 stick cinnamon
  • — 1/2 whole nutmeg
  • — 5 green cardamom pods, cracked

Combine all the ingredients in a large, heavy pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high flame, then lower to a brisk simmer and cook until liquid is reduced to 2 cups, about 45 minutes. Keep an eye out towards the end, and stir occasionally. Strain, discarding spices, and set aside in a bowl or pitcher. Syrup will thicken as it cools. Store in the fridge in a tightly sealed container for up to 2 weeks.

Download recipe  Download Recipe


I am so torn at this time of year--my joy at the beauty (evidence like these photos) and the bounty (figs, quince!) is tinged with my visceral dislike of winter. Some cider syrup will soften the blow!
val on October 7, 2014 at 4:47 pm —
On the lookout for my first quince of the year...
laura on October 7, 2014 at 5:31 pm —
Most beautiful photos ever....just had a glance and excited to read. Cider recipe will be fun to make for our Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend. Thank you, Laura, for the inspiration.
charlotte on October 7, 2014 at 5:16 pm —
Enjoy the holiday, Charlotte, and the cider syrup!
laura on October 7, 2014 at 5:30 pm —
I am so excited! I will be in upstate NY (village of Tillson, near High Falls) for a family wedding party. While reading your latest blog, I found the link to the Field + Supply Modern Makers Faire in High Falls scheduled for this weekend! Yay! I live in the San Francisco Bay Area so I rarely get to attend any of the many, MANY wonderful events in the New England area that interest me, so I am delighted to have read of this event here. Thanks for including it. Can't wait!
Grace on October 7, 2014 at 5:45 pm —
Great timing, Grace. If you see me there, say hi!
laura on October 7, 2014 at 5:48 pm —
Oh, this post! Autumn in New England is where my heart and soul resides. Being that I'm not there in person this year, I'm feeling rather adrift. I long for apples and cheddar, fuzzy slippers, sweaters, evening fires, fiery foliage and crisp, cool air. Thank for the virtual breath of it...
Prairie on October 8, 2014 at 8:44 am —
Just spent way too much time bookmarking almost everything from this post. Thanks for ruining my productivity. xo
Lisa on October 8, 2014 at 10:21 am —
I always enjoy your posts, Laura, frequent or not... I'm usually just too too busy to comment. Beautiful photos by G.
judy b on October 8, 2014 at 12:59 pm —
This post was a delight to read and brought a contented smile to my lips. Thank you Laura.
Tamiko on October 8, 2014 at 2:09 pm —
We aim to please…;-)
laura on October 19, 2014 at 3:44 pm —
Love the list you posted...a good way to share so many quirky things that jump out when browsing. A lot of them really interesting; loved the inclusion of the photos of people living alternative lives; though some of them seem 'extreme'. Living in the country in retirement is a continuation of our alternative way of living where moment to moment experience is more important than keeping to a schedule; that's what my partner and I are doing: we garden, we work a little to pay the bills, we photograph everything that catches our eye and share with family & friends. Thanks for great posts!
Chris Maciel on October 16, 2014 at 12:37 pm —
The concept of retirement is foreign to me but it sounds like we do many of the same things!
laura on October 19, 2014 at 3:43 pm —
Love your beautiful blog, words and images.
sara0611 on October 19, 2014 at 3:21 pm —
Welcome, Sara, and thank you!
laura on October 19, 2014 at 3:42 pm —