Posts Tagged ‘cider’

Well. We are digging out from a serious snowstorm, and it’s also (according to the calendar) the halfway point of winter. I’m linking up with Anne Bogel and others to share a list of what’s saving my life these days – because any and all lifesavers are worth celebrating. Here’s mine:

  • My final paperwhite bulb and the pink hyacinth in a glass vase I bought at Trader Joe’s – both blooming away.
  • The salsa class I’m taking on Thursday nights in Cambridge. It’s fun to learn something new, and it reminds me of the swing dance club I was in, back in college.
  • The big box of fresh citrus my California friend sent last week – most of it from her parents’ trees.
  • Strong black tea in my favorite mugs – a year-round lifesaver.
  • Tuesday writing class, which is back (on zoom) – I adore these ladies and the work we do together.
  • My cozy plaid infinity scarf and every sweater dress I own.
  • Yoga, which feels especially good when it’s so dang cold.
  • Spotify mixes – nineties country, mellow jazz, nineties pop hits, contemplative movie soundtracks and Natalie Cole.
  • Trying new ciders with my guy and writing about them for our cider Instagram account.
  • Dreaming and scheming about spring travel.
  • Baking treats from the Flour cookbook with my partner.
  • Good books: thoughtful nonfiction, plenty of YA and middle grade, and James Herriot before bed.
  • Related: All Creatures Great and Small season 2!

What’s saving your life in these winter days?


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My guy and I love Salem, that famously witchy town a bit north of Boston. We spent a few weekends there in 2019, but hadn’t been back since March 2020, for the obvious pandemic and life reasons. But a couple of weeks ago, we decided to just go for the day – hopping on the commuter rail in the morning and coming back in time for dinner. It was, in a word, fabulous.

We started the day with iced chai and treats from Caffe Ducali (see above) and then hopped on the train. When we arrived, we did some browsing of favorites old and new: the bike shop, the comic-book shop, the fabulous consignment shop Re-find (where I always find the best stuff). We ran into an old friend of G’s and chatted a minute, then headed down the street for hot dogs. I almost never eat hot dogs unless I’m at a ballpark, but I made an exception for these:

Thus fortified, we wandered some more (stopping at Front Street Coffee for iced tea – it was hot!), then headed out on a bike ride. I love exploring new parts of familiar places with G, and we adore a good long bike ride. We ended up at Winter Island, which has campgrounds, a beach and ocean views.

We rode back to town and headed to Far From the Tree, Salem’s wonderful local cider house, for some sampling (G) and an old favorite (me). We have a cider-focused Instagram account these days, and it’s so fun to taste different ciders and compare notes.

After a ride back on the commuter rail, we ended the day where we began it: at Ducali for a delicious dinner. It was so lovely to revisit one of our favorite towns together. I want to go back (again).

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While it’s no secret that I am a tea fanatic (especially as the nights grow colder), I’m drinking a fair amount of mulled apple cider these days. The orchard where we go to pick apples sells it by the gallon, and it’s also in stock at my grocery store.

This isn’t the saccharine, powdered cider mix of my childhood, stirred into mugs of hot water: it is pure, distilled apples, fresh and tart and bold. A cold glass of it tastes like apple juice, only stronger and less sweet. But I like it best after it’s simmered on the stove for a while, with a few cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, allspice berries and a sprinkle of nutmeg.

My friend Abigail often brings cider to church potlucks or friends’ houses in the fall and winter. She likes it best when it’s “really mulled” – the longer the better. It amazes me that while the cider is delicious in its fresh form, the application of heat, spices and time transforms it into something richer, layered and ultimately different.

cafe panis paris mulled wine notre dame

This time of year, I start to miss Oxford pubs, most of which keep a fat-bellied pot of mulled wine simmering on the front counter through November and December, spiced and steaming, with thin orange slices floating in it. I’m not much of a drinker, but I have fond memories of sipping that wine in a few cozy pubs on wet, dark English winter nights. (The photo above is from Paris, where the mulled wine is equally lovely.) I have nothing against red wine by itself, but I like it best with the added notes of cinnamon, cloves and citrus.

So it is with mulling over thoughts. Most of my (good) ideas don’t arrive fully formed: they require some simmering before they reach their final state. Sometimes I have to throw some “spices” into the mix: different angles, fresh questions, a conversation with a friend. Sometimes, as with the cider, I add the extra ingredients and walk away, letting time and my subconscious do their work. Although the ideas often have value in their raw state, they are improved by a little mulling.

As far as I know (and I even consulted the OED), the mulling of cider or wine and the mulling over of thoughts aren’t etymologically related. But the processes, it turns out, are quite similar. And they both produce something sweet at the end.

What are you mulling – cider, wine, ideas – lately?

PS: We did see high winds and rain as a result of Hurricane Sandy, but we never lost power and are safe and dry. I hope all of you who were in the storm’s path are safe, too. And Happy Halloween!

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