For me, the autumn of the year is a sensual season filled with many colors, textures, sounds, tastes, and smells that influence the whole of my being.
The myriad of leaf colors enliven my sense of sight to the reality that fall is occurring. Soon the deciduous plants will lose their leaves and I’ll be able to see the mountains through the twigs and branches of the trees that throughout the spring and summer hide them from view; and will also allow me to see the first fall snows sensually outlining the valleys and glaciers on the highest peaks, bidding me to look their way.
The fermenting smells of ripe fruits set upon by a myriad of fruit flies and wasps, the rotting of fish carcasses alongside their ancestral spawning rivers and streams, the odors given off by piles of grasses and trails lined with rain-sodden leaves remind me of the important cycle of decay, composting and the natural recycling of nutrients within an ecosystem.
The sounds of migrating fowl, the winds that jostle the trees that make the leaves to fall, the squabble of crows in the mountain ash tree gorging on the ripe fruits, the bull elk calling to establish his territory and attract potential mates, the falling fruits and nuts and the heavy rains represent closure to a season of growth and abundance and the beginning of a cycle of rest, gestation and renewal.
The test of touch and taste determines if a pear is ripe or not. The texture and flavor of a pear that is perfectly ripe will be far different from one that is even slightly under ripe. The greener pear will have a grainer texture and be flatter tasting. To speed the process, put them in a paper bag with a banana or apple which gives off ethylene gas that assists the pear in producing its own. It may only take a day or two before the alchemical transformational magic of being perfectly ripe happens. Check the neck with your thumb applying a gentle pressure and if it gives to a soft press, it is ripe and ready to eat. Pears are one of a few fruits that taste better picked slightly green and allowed to ripen off tree; therefore, commercially picked pears are picked slightly immature on purpose, cooled down in a controlled atmosphere and then brought out to ripen when needed. Keeping some in the refrigerator and taking out a few days before you want to eat them, does the same.
For me, the apple represents all five universal senses. The color and shape of an apple helps determine its visual appeal. Biting into a freshly picked apple often produces a crack and crunch of sound, a sweetness or bitterness to the taste buds, a sense of texture to the tongue and smell to the nose inherent in the variety eaten. No wonder the apple, with its strong sensual and savory appeal, was sadly chosen and forever maligned by early Christian illustrators to represent that sinful, irresistible moment in the Garden.
Here’s a recipe for to make enough Apple Turnovers or Pear Turnovers for three, one to keep for yourself and two to take for a potluck dessert!
- Crusts for three:
- 3 C flour
- l &1/4 C shortening ( I used butter.)
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 egg
- 5 1/2 Tbsp. water (I used slightly more of rice milk)
- 1 tsp. vinegar (I used wine vinegar)
- Measure flour and salt into bowl. Cut in shortening (until pea-sized). In small bowl, beat egg lightly, add vinegar and water. Then combine with flour. Stir until evenly mixed but not too much. Divide dough into 3 equal balls. As needed, flatten balls and roll out on lightly floured surface. Fold in half and gently place on parchment-lined cookie sheet.
- Stuffing for three:
- 8 C sliced apples, approx.
- 1/4 C brown sugar lightly packed or you could use honey or even cane sugar but they’re so sweet already I’d hold off on too much sweetness.
- 2 Tbsp flour (more for juicy pears)
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp. coriander and other favorite spices
- 1 T lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp. butter placed on top of each stuffing before folding over the top.
- I mix all the apples, lemon juice and dry ingredients together and let set for a few minutes. Meanwhile I rolled out one crust at a time. Then filled up a half dome, leaving room around the edge to crimp them together. Add the dollop of butter, folded over the top, rolled/crimped edges together. Cut slits for steam to escape. Then I finished the next turnover, etc.
- Heat oven up to 350-375 and bake till done 35 min. or so depending on how brown and done you like the pastry.
- When I take them out to cool, sometimes I’ll pour a spoon of my hawthorn infused honey into the steam holes…mmmmmh…I could also see doing that with cream, too. The addition of ice cream would make it even more sinful! These turnovers age well and are good cold.