I haven’t baked much of anything for the past few years unless a birthday or special occasion required it. It isn’t that I no longer enjoy baking; I consider it a relaxing activity — especially when I can take my time and get involved in the process. Redirected habits are primarily to blame for why I no longer fire up my oven as much as I used to, but I miss it and enough time has passed that I’ve managed to try a few new recipes. A Dorset Apple Cake, for starters. Of course this was inspired by our last trip.
I suppose I can blame The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry for our most recent trip. If you’ve not read it, it’s about a man who spontaneously decides to walk across England. An odd story, it’s one which will always stay with me. And it isn’t so much that I immediately wanted to walk across England after having read it, but I was intrigued.
Everywhere I venture there are signs of Fall insinuating themselves on a not quite ready me, unusual because it’s my favorite season. I’ll blame it on our non-summer, my excessive indulgence on vacation planning, and the trip itself which deposited me willing or not smack on November first’s doorstep. It’s disorienting missing Halloween to find grocery stores “big buy” areas brimming with typical displays of canned pumpkin, canned cranberries, canned corn, canned green beans, and canned gravy of all things. Did I mention canned? Refreshingly, each website I’ve visited, a welcome assist in my recovery from jet lag — I swear it takes longer the older I become — is sporting new recipes for stuffing, a new twist on pumpkin bread, spicy cranberry relish, and yes, green bean casserole — all made with fresh ingredients.
Not quite there myself, I’ve been caught up in a rekindled love affair with England remembering the best of our recent two-week trip. Of course the best of anything will include food — savory pot pies in particular. This wasn’t a trip planned to seek out sleek restaurants or exclusive menus. Instead we wanted to visit the markets, purchase what we could to make a few meals when a kitchen was available, and enjoy a few pubs or tea rooms along the way. From what we’ve been able to estimate, “the way” was close to 1,000 miles and included a high speed train, not so high speed trains, a taxi or two, and a Saab station wagon packed to the gills with luggage that seemed to grow in the night. Not included in our miles covered were myriad trips on the Underground while we were in London, an open air tour bus ride that we never quite mastered the art of hopping on and off of, a Thames river boat cruise, and some walking. Actually lots of walking, which explains why one is able to lose a few pounds on a vacation diet utterly lacking anything green.
It was completely delicious.