I'm sure when I was younger that I could pinpoint the exact moment that Autumn began.
Without needing to be told, we'd instinctively take our jackets before heading outside. We would walk to school, kicking up the blanket of leaves, in search of the perfect conker.
Now the days just seem to merge. If you told me it was December or March or June, I would believe you. I seem to have become dislocated from any sense of time or place.
We had the windows in our flat open all weekend. I padded around, barefoot, seeking out patches of sunlight to curl up in. The trees on our street are resolutely clothed in green; like me, they seem not to have acknowledged that the season may have changed.
It makes sense that I would try to seek out Autumn in what I eat. Apples and blackberries is not a particularly novel combination of flavours. It's an autumn staple really - sweet and tart and juicy. It makes me nostalgic for a childhood that was definitely not mine. One of running through orchards and scrambling through brambles.
I make no apologies for not giving you anything new. There's no need to seek out change for change's sake. A few spoonfuls of this rich, glossy, purple compote stirred through my morning bowl of yoghurt convinced me of that. There is a little kick of heat from the ginger, a touch of sweetness from the maple syrup and some smoothness from the vanilla. Even as I drift along, meandering my way through the year, food like this helps me to grow roots.
Apple and blackberry compote
Yield: 3 - 4 cups
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- A small pinch of salt
- 4 apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
- 300g (12 oz) blackberries
- In a medium sized pan, heat the maple syrup, water, vanilla, ginger and salt over a low heat until it is just about to turn syrupy.
- Add the fruit and simmer for about an hour, stirring and mashing up the fruit every now and then. The longer you cook it, the more the fruit will break down so stop whenever it's as lumpy (or not) as you want it. If desired, you can purée it in a blender but I do find that makes it a little like baby food...
- Store in an air-tight container in the fridge; it should last for 5 days or so.