One of the reasons that I love the Pacific Northwest is the greeness that lasts throughout the summer. But with that greeness comes water.
Lots and lots of water.
As in torrential downpours.
This is also the reason that I have been trying to talk my Mister into moving to the east side of the state. Where it's drier. And I've been talking for years. It is also the reason that we just began our 2011-2012 year of homeschooling.
If you live around here, you'll understand me when I say that summer doesn't officially begin until July 5th. Apparently, July didn't get the memo, so this year summer didn't really start rolling until the beginning of August. Good if you don't care for extreme heat (and by extreme, I really mean anything over 80 degrees!), but bad if you are expecting much of a garden harvest.
Do you know how difficult it is to maneuver through a farmer's market with an umbrella in one hand, basket in the other while balancing a warm treat from Starbucks, and attempt to pick up things to put into the basket? Thankfully, the farmer's at the market understand. They were very helpful. And dry. Because they watched the weather and thought to put up awnings.
Once summer got rolling, we got busy. With life. Mowing, weeding, planting, harvesting, canning, fishing, camping, hiking, home-improvement projects, fence building, hunting, etc... So while we weren't officially on the clock yet with schooling, our children were being educated. Without the books.
So, with the ending of our "unschooling vacation", we begin the book-learning portion of our school year. And because it was the first day of "school", we made popcorn and hot spiced cider, read our books by the crackling fireplace, and stayed in sweatpants all day.
Because after 18 years, tradition counts for something.
And it was raining.☺
~Hot Spiced Cider~
1 gallon organic apple cider (or fresh-pressed at home!)
1 quart organic apricot juice (I found some that was apricot/mango by Santa Cruz.)
1 large can pineapple juice
1/4 cup sucanat
4 cinnamon sticks (or more if desired)
1 Tb. whole cloves
1 Tb. whole allspice
2-3 star anise
1 stainless steel tea ball or cheesecloth and kitchen twine
Place the cloves and allspice in the tea ball or cheesecloth. (If using cheesecloth, tie off with kitchen twine but leave long tails.)
Pour juices in stainless steel pot. Add sucanat and stir. Add cinnamon sticks, star anise, and tea ball/cheesecloth bag, but hang tea ball on edge of pot. If using cheesecloth, place a long wooden spoon over top and tie bag to that. Make sure the ball/bag is fully in the juice.
Heat on medium-high until bubbles form, but is not boiling. Reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for 1/2 hour. Remove cinnamon sticks, star anise, and tea ball/bag.
Give it a stir and carefully ladle into mugs.