field notes: stirring the sauce

from the other crabapple cove

First, walk out back to the apple orchard. Observe the weather-beaten wooden ladder you once climbed to the old treehouse your father built fifty years ago and how it’s still propped against one of the crabapple trees. Gaze at the ancient trees, how they stretch toward the heavens. Notice there are more than you remembered, their gnarled branches like an enchanted forest fairy tale, spanning across the brook into the overgrown woods where you once played. Marvel at the low buzz of the September afternoon—the bees are back this year, buzzing between raspberry and apple seasons in the yard left half-wild. Walk carefully, gently, through the blooming asters, through the swarms of bees. Revel in being alive as you squish a crabapple—half-eaten by the doe and her fawns who reside in the woods—beneath the multi-colored rainboots you wear to ward off the ticks.

Stare into the nearly bare branches and select a couple dozen apples that aren’t rotten, wondering if it was just a bad year for apples or maybe the deer were exceptionally hungry.

Delicately place your apples in the bright orange enamel colander your mother always used—a wedding gift from her first marriage—for pasta-draining, lettuce-washing, and yes, crabapple-rinsing every fall. Rinse, drain, peel and core them, and register your astonishment at how tedious a job prepping crabapples the size of golf balls turns out to be.

Remember all the Septembers your mother made this applesauce, with all the crabapples you plucked from the trees together, and smile because you’re standing in the exact same spot in the kitchen that she was the last time she made it. Chop into tiny chunks and place them in the vintage crockpot your mother made this applesauce in for twenty years. Add spices and sugar; cover with apple cider and cook on low until your entire house is enveloped in the deep earthy scents of the orchard, of leaf piles and muddy trails, of autumn.

Realize the transformation in becoming your mother is nearly complete.


riding the waves of summer

There were fireflies and stars. The sky stayed light forever.

The walk across the footbridge to Barrett’s Beach. Fireworks over the harbor. A crab roll, sweet and delicate. The view of the cove from my bedroom window. Paddling the kayak to the trail on Indiantown Island. Breakfast cookies under the red umbrella, the other dog named Max, mussels swirling in white wine and garlic at the Wharf. The guy who mows my lawn and his dog Scout, still damp from a swim. Potluck suppers. The hermits I baked and how they smelled like Christmas. A heavenly hash ice cream cone by a duckpond. A dip in the cove, the icy embrace of the sea. The library’s Annual Book & Bake sale. Campfires and thunderstorms. Morning run to Pratt’s Island, sand in my socks. My tiny kitchen where magic happens. The attic archives on a rainy afternoon. The sea pups surrounding my paddleboard. Black-eyed Susans and day lilies. The Appalachian Trail. Seeing old friends at the hardware, the beach, the grocery store. Vintage crockpots. My mother’s cast iron skillet. The books my grandparents wrote. The entire month of July. The rush of the brook after a rainstorm. Oysters. Lobster. The last of the June strawberries in a summer cake. A swim in Lucerne Lake, the last place I lived before I moved west. Winning at cornhole. Marshmallow Fluff from the jar. A trail map from Katahdin Woods and Waters. How the blueberry cake melts on my tongue. Riding the ski lift to the top of Sugarloaf. The black-and-white snapshot of my parents before I was born. Diving off the dock. Dusty boxes filled with my mother’s journals. Smore’s, s’mores pie, s’mores brownie squares. How silence seeps into the soul. Camp week at the lake, my niece yelling “YOLO, Auntie!” as she cannonballs off the boat. Molasses donuts from Moody’s Diner, thick and rugged. Swimsuits dripping on the clothesline. A stack of old cookbooks and a dystopian novel. A surprise birthday party for my stepmother, party hats and noisemakers. Ketchup chips, tangy and crisp, from an unplanned road trip to Quebec. My 23-year-old Volvo wagon. A soggy ice cream sandwich on the ferry ride back from Islesboro.

In my first herb garden, I planted thyme. Because we always need more.

field notes: the recipe journal

old-school and offline

The recipe journal arrived not long ago, brought to the front door by a harried Amazon driver. His uniform, drenched with sweat, matched the gray and baby blue of the delivery van. Our transaction was silent and rapid. He did not smile. In my kitchen studio, I tore open the package, as excited as nine-year-old me had been when my new corduroy gaucho pants from the Sears catalog appeared in the mailbox one autumn afternoon. The same shade as the cinnamon sticks in my mother’s spice cupboard, the ones she used when she made hot cocoa.

It seems right to start a new journal, to create a new tradition hatched from another beginning: the recent revival of the foodletter my mother created nearly 40 years ago. This recipe journal is a scrapbook of sorts—clippings and photos, index cards and sketches. Stories held together by the glue of generations. A chronicle of my own cooking journey, brimming with time-honored family recipes and future plans for new dishes to savor. Every recipe an exploration.

Create Your Culinary Legacy, said the Recipe Journal’s wrapper. Store Your Recipes Offline.

Old-school and offline. In my world of words, handwritten pages always triumph over digital documents. In longhand, I can’t lie. Pen to page is head to heart. My truth found in blue ink on a paper page.

And as I cook, I discover more truths. Food, I find, is memory’s home movie. Baking a batch of granola magically transports me to the tiny kitchen of my youth, immersed in the aroma of warm coconut and peanut butter. My mother in the flowered apron she sewed on her old beige Singer.

Cooking shapes unexpected legacies.

Amid the grainy swirls of texture and the flutter of flavors, recipes become stories, connecting family and friends, present and past. Ingredients and instructions for a life worth relishing.

On the lined pages of this little hard-bound book, in handwritten ink matching its navy-blue cover—embossed in gold like a passport to different time—I tell my stories. And I share this culinary legacy with you, my new family. The readers of my words.

Preserving an experience made entirely by hand.