Tree to Plate in Sixty Minutes

Having garden-fresh vegetables was commonplace when I was a teenager on a communal farm in Canada, but we didn’t live in the best climate for growing fruit, with the exception of a few berries. Living in Alaskan cities for a dozen years, I’d forgotten what it felt like to walk to the garden, pick a handful of veggies, and eat them for dinner a few minutes later. And fresh fruit? In both Northwest Ontario and Alaska, most fruit was shipped to grocery stores from far away and was fairly unappetizing by the time it arrived in fruit bowls at home.

This is our second summer in our beautiful two-acre Oregon home. It’s late August, and apples are ripening on the trees in our yard. A few mornings ago, I woke up with a sudden impulse to eat apple fritters. My mom was here for a short visit, so I had both motivation (being in one’s thirties doesn’t inoculate one against the desire to impress one’s mother) and opportunity to stroll out to the trees and do some picking while she made sure the kids didn’t cause a disaster while I was outside. I rolled out of bed, gave my hair three quick twists, and sneaked out through the garage, picking bucket in hand, without my absence being noticed by any small people.

An hour later, I had a full bucket of crisp apples, a bowl full of batter, and a plate of sugar-and-spice-tossed apple fritter rings. One hour. (That even included the amount time the puppy and I spent in the garage regretting that I’d forgotten the garage doorknob doesn’t unlock when turned from the kitchen side, so we were locked out briefly.) Those apples had been basking in early-morning sunlight sixty minutes previously; now they were glistening with sugar and about to be popped into hungry mouths.

I’m not sure why this amazes me so much, but it does — it boggles my mind that I live in a place that I have such easy access to fresh, delicious food right in my own yard. It never fails to fill me with a sense of gratitude and deep pleasure that the earth can provide such bounty, with such ease, and it’s right here for me to pick off a tree and eat…or, if I so desire, fry first and then eat. Yes, yes, I’m getting corny and sappy, and my best friend is rolling her eyes (that is, if she could even bring herself to read yet another gardening/cooking/ Oregon-has-the-world’s-best-climate post) — and I don’t care one bit, because I. just. love. living here.

I used the recipe from a website called Just a Taste, by , for the fritters. They’re what I think of as real fritters — the fruit is dipped in batter and fried, rather than being pieces of donut dough interspersed with chunks of apple. The recipe includes caramel sauce, which I didn’t use, and includes an optional suggestion for tossing the fritters in cinnamon sugar, which I did use — except I used pumpkin pie seasoning instead of cinnamon, and I also added some pumpkin pie seasoning to the fritter batter.

I made a good-sized batch of the pumpkin pie seasoning myself a month or so ago in about three minutes from a recipe I found at Country Cleaver, and I have been using it a lot lately. Yum.