Thursday, August 5, 2010

Mountain Cookout


Good evening, everybody!



Tonight I thought, in light of the arrival
of August and the impending end of summer,
I would open up my lovingly worn copy of
and share with you one of its late summer menus!
And of course, what I love so much about this book is 
that it provides us with, not only wonderful menus but,
beautifully written descriptions and memories to
perfectly accompany all of its recipes ♥


The following description is rather long,
but so worth the read (particularly 
if you live in a hot climate far 
away from any mountain!):

"At the end of the summer come lazy days. Most of the vegetable-garden harvest is in, awaiting only the squash and pumpkin and melon bounty. Grapes are nearly ripe; the last-planted rows of corn are just right for eating, and tomatoes are heavy on the fading vines. Early apples are ready for pies and the Macs will soon be picked. Wild cranberries will have to be gathered soon in the lower bog before the first frost; they will be picked over and packed loosely in big jars to keep in the cellar until they are all gone, well after Christmas. Soon the flaming autumn reds and brilliant golds of the deciduous trees, mingled with the dark greens of the conifers, will weave a tapestry across the hills.
At this time of year there comes an evening when Father will look to the mountain from which he forecasts the weather and then say 'Tomorrow will be a good day; shall we go to the mountain?' Everything else is forsaken and preparations for tomorrow begin at once.
Mother puts the beans to soak. Early in the morning they go into the oven to start their cooking. Taken out at the very minute we are ready to leave for the mountain, the pot is wrapped snugly and the beans keep right on cooking.
What a heavenly day to be on the mountain! Sparkling-clear. What fun it is to climb to the top through the shade of the forest where we find ferns and mosses and the patches of shiny green and Christmas red bunch-berry. Stumble over the big rocks, skip around the slippery places where a mountain spring bubbles, jump over trees fallen in the great hurricane of 1938. Suddenly we are out in the brilliant sunshine with only the blue of the sky above and around us. We have left the forest behind and are standing on a rock ledge at the very top. Our view of the world below takes our breath away.
In a far-off valley we find our house and barn, and how tiny it looks! Church spires pinpoint all the villages we know for many miles around. Point out Sawyer's apple barn, Ruth's muster field, Sanborn's hilltop house. We can see familiar ponds and lakes, and the river winds its lazy late-summer way among the farms and woods and hills. We can see the high peaks of Vermont's Green Mountains and our own White Mountains. If only we were a bit taller, perhaps we could see the Atlantic!
Someone has stayed below at the picnic site to watch the hardwood fire burn to coals and, at just the proper time, hands are cupped to make a horn for the call to dinner, which brings everyone down from the top much faster than the going up. We can smell the steak and the coffee and are ready to hearty eating.
The picnic table is laden, much of it from our own land. Hot soup is poured from the thermos into blue granite cups. Father carves the thick sirloin; baked beans rich with salt pork are ladled onto the blue graniteware plates. Tomatoes and cucumbers are sliced into a bowl and then dusted with fresh tarragon-- help yourself. Rear off a piece of warm French bread with garlic butter. Fresh corn roasted in the husk is its own course- how many ears can you eat? Finally the pie basket is opened and green-apple pie is cut in wide pieces, with a slice of cheese from our own Crossroads Country Store atop. Pour steaming coffee from the pot on the fire or have a cup of fresh milk.
After the dinner is over and the fires are carefully drenched, we sit on the rocks and visit. We talk of how Mountain Day was when Grandmother was a girl, when the trip was made by farm wagon and horses and took  many more hours. We watch the evening haze spread as the sun sets over the land below. The lowering light is mirrored in lakes across the miles; the hills grow pink and purple and black as the deep of the sky pushes down to the horizon."

Menu
Thermos of Hot Tomato Soup
Baked Beans
Sirloin Steak
Fresh Sliced Tomatoes and Cucumbers with Tarragon
French Bread with Garlic Butter
Corn Roasted in the Husk
Apple Pie with Cheese
Picnic Pot of Coffee
Fresh Cold Milk
 ♥

Here are a couple of sample recipes
(to see the rest, just purchase the book... 
trust me, you won't regret it!):

Sirloin Steak
To serve eight hungry people, have to aged sirloin steaks cut 1 3/4 to 2 inches thick. Slash the edges to prevent curling.
Build a good fire of hardwood sticks about as big as your wrist, and let them burn vigorously until they are red-hot coals. Hickory, oak, and maple work best; birch burns fast and hot and is a good fire-starter.
When the coals are just right, grease a wire broiler generously with a piece of beef suet and place the steaks on the broiler close enough to the coals to sear. When well-browned, turn and sear the other side. This should take about five minutes a side. If the steaks have been trimmed of excess fat, they will not drip exceedingly.
Raise the broiler 3 to 4 inches and turn the steaks, cooking for another ten minutes each side-- more or less according to your taste. Remove from fire, sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Place steaks on a clean board for carving.

Corn Roasted in the Husk
Pick the corn at the last possible minute before leaving home. On arrival at the mountain, lay the corn in the hollowed log which catches the spring water (or stand in a bucket of fresh cold water). When ready to cook the corn, remove silks from all the ears. Peel back but do not remove husks and spread corn with soft or melted butter. Replace husks.
When the steak has been removed from the coals, place the ears either on a grill close to the coals or right on the coals. Turn often; roast for about 20 minutes. Heap on the table and serve with plenty of salt, pepper, and butter.

Apple Pie
Make pastry (any pasty recipe will do) and line a 9-inch pie plate, leaving a width of pastry 1 inch larger than the plate. Peel, core, and slice tart apples to make about 6 cups. Arrange slices in the pie plate, firming well. If apples are not tart, squeeze a half lemon over slices.
Mix together 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup which sugar, 1 Tbs. flour, and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Sprinkle this over the apple and grate some nutmeg over the top. Dot generously with  butter.
Roll out the top crust, slash the center with a sharp knife in a little design. Put crust over the apple mixture. With fingers, apply a little cold water around the edge of the crust, fold the lower edge up over the edge of the top crust and flute with fingers to make a nice edging. Brush top crust with cream and sprinkle white granulated sugar over it.
Bake in a hot oven (425°F) for 15 minutes, then lower the heat (350°F) and continue baking until brown and apples are tender. May be tested by sticking a paring knife through one of the slashes in the top crust to see if apples are done.
Serve with cheese or with thick country cream.

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Wasn't that just lovely?
And to think-- next week, I'll be residing on 
the foothills of Mount Monadnock for two days!

6 comments:

  1. I was imagining North Lake and hiking to the top of North Mountain when I read that entry. Of course, she is talking about New Hampshire, but what I love about that little book is that it evokes memories from similar places. Looking forward to Fall.

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  2. I'll have to look around for that cookbook on Amazon ... I'm a cookbook junkie.

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  3. Thanks for sharing Erin! The menu sounds wonderful, I will have to check out that cookbook.

    Have a great weeekend!

    Sharon

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  4. Oh how I yearn for fall to be here NOW!!! I can't take anymore of this summer heat!!!

    I must get that book even if just for the lovely descriptions of my beloved New England!!!

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  5. This made me very homesick for New Hampshire, the beautiful.
    xx

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  6. Oh Erin..what a wonderful post. Loved all the recipes! Will have to check out the cookbook. I love cookbooks..one of my favorite reads!

    Have fun next week and of course take lots of pictures to share with us!

    Blessings....
    xoxo Gert

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Thanks for your thoughts!

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