Saturday, September 22, 2012

Celebrating Autumn

Next Saturday - September 29th is Michaelmas Day, a feast in honor Michael the archangel and, in English tradition, the last day of harvest. The hard work is over, the abundance of the land is gathered and stored and it is time to celebrate and give thanks.

 For most of us the significance of harvest is lost today since we gather our supplies from Sainsburys or Tescos and can usually find a variety what ever the season - no need to store, preserve, dry and put by for later. Autumn is my favourite season and despite the reliability of my local supermarket I both enjoy and feel an urge to gather and preserve at this time of year. We have been collecting wild apples and blackberries across our local common. So far I have made: apple sauce , blackberry jam, blackberry compote and for the first time blackberry gin (very easy to do - the recipe is the same as for sloe gin). And I have bought myself a proper old fashioned pie dish . Autumn seems the time of year to make pies.

The traditional  way to celebrate Michaelmas is to eat goose. Last year we had a family lunch with roast chicken followed by baked apples and blackberry compote. There is an old folk tale that tells of the devil being cast out of heaven and falling to earth to land in a bramble bush. Enraged he curses the bush and spits on it! Since then it is supposed to be unlucky to gather blackberry's after Michaelmas.

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