Saturday, January 31, 2015

Wilbo is Glad that He's Got A Crack Type Addiction But Only to Fruit Products at The Muskegon @PureMichigan Farmer's Market.

Actually, I couldn't believe my good luck. Amish Bob and his family had two small four dollar apple pies. Also, two large apple pies awaited purchase. The family didn't bring any four dollar blueberry pies and will next week as people were asking for blueberry. I was about to pick up the two four dollar apple pies when my eyes fell upon a raspberry pie, little raspberry shapes cut in the fruit so the seeds in the reddish purple fruit jamminess could be counted. 

I was almost in love with the apple pies. Last Saturday, I had bought one and chilled it in my fridge. I was expecting slices of apples as I ate at first quarter of the pie, and I saw how the baker had ground her apples like hamburger and spiced the apple meat with cinnamon and thickened the juice with some unknown ingredient, my guess pectin. Mom added pectin to jell her strawberry jams so I'm pretty sure an Amish baker would too. I decided to ask but wait a week.

So I gave the woman a ten spot for her raspberry pie, and she promised to hold it for me as I shopped. Amish Bob had returned from his almost two week stay in Kentucky for meetings and quipped, "I'm fine if the pies won't sell. I'll eat the unsold pies myself". And he smiled, a man sure of a good pie to take with his evening coffee, if he allows himself coffee. Maybe with his herbal tea the unsold pies will pair well?

We planted raspberries on our farm in Shiawassee County, and raspberries grew plentifully in ditches along the roads and trails I walked as a boy. I could build an entire Garden of Eden fantasy out of boyhood summers, a time when I could reach into a bramble and pluck sweets from between the thorns. The raspberry has a secret all should enjoy. Raspberries have two seasons of fruit and the second arrives just as October frost begins killing the tomato plants as ice-glazing the mums. Last October, I was picking a few handfuls of raspberries with an eighty year old man who had planted gardens on the grounds of the Finnish Cultural Center in Farmington Hills. The raspberries had a touch of ice crystals that added texture and surprise to the seedy polyp, a toothy pleasure. If a raspberry pie were served cold from the freezer, taken out just before freezing, the first bites might reproduce that surprise. 

I bought a loaf of Oceana Round from the Laughing Tree stall and the baker's wife sliced my loaf into thick slices, leaving each one but the ends attached to the loaf. "Makes it easier to bag", she said. The market has four different bakers who bring fresh loaves on Saturday morning, each achieving quality in their own way. One is a fresh faced chef who has stacked his table high with loaves, and brought brownie pies this week. Laughing Tree, of course, brought an array of loaves baked in a wood-fired oven, giving all the loaves a crust with a smoke touched caramel flavor. A man and woman has a table with so many varieties, labelled with signs, it makes me think of a bread encyclopedia. Last, and hardly least, we have Amish Bob and his family, selling loaves and honey and sweet rolls along with the pies.

I still had a stock of Honeycrisp Apples from the week when I bought almost two bushels of seconds, a bit desperately. I have a few good apples of that batch left; the bad ones are destined for a garden behind my brownstone where hopefully birds will peck at their frozen flesh. She had plenty of first quality Honeycrisp this week, and I will add these to my refrigerator stock after I cull the apples I couldn't possibly eat. I am hoping to keep the doctor away by gnawing on an apple as breakfast as I scurry out of the house in the morning. I have chawed on a second each night while reading a book, preparing to fall asleep. I have acquired a fourteen apple a week habit, and yet it's far cheaper than a crack addiction.

I had words, words of mock annoyance, with the woman who offers wine samples from a table by the door. Her Oceana Vineyard supplies Unruly Brewing Company with three house pours. Meeting with a friend last Wednesday who didn't drink beer, we enjoyed wine by the glass instead. She picked out Reisling us, labeled "Michigan Medley", and one tall glass each fueled a long conversation as we envisioned a new park for Muskegon. My friend from work invited our department to Unruly Friday after work for a Beer-Thirty. The first glass of Michigan Medley had gone down pleasingly and I let the waitress bring me a second as the good conversation continued to flow. I'm pretty sure that Unruly over-pours their wine, and finishing the last drop, I decided to walk home instead of driving. And I didn't drive out to the Silversides Museum for the opening night of a play honoring Vietnam War nurses. None of this I stated when I had words with the vineyard owner. I just said "Your wine is so good, I enjoyed not one but two glasses last night at Unruly". Then I offered to help load her unsold boxes into her truck as she packed up to depart.

Will Juntunen

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