I went scrumping this week. It was a load of fun and completely unexpected. What would you do if you found an apple tree laden with fruit that no one would pick? Exactly.
I lifted my daughter Maggie on my shoulders so she could pick the lowest hanging fruit from the neglected old tree. The apples were so perfect it would have been a crime to let them become windfall. They were ripe, sweet and delicious. We took what we could reach and then vowed to return to get more. I felt like a schoolboy again, with grazed knees and short trousers, heart beating as I tasted the first freshly picked apples of my autumn. The scrumper in me loves this. A day out in the van and a walk that turns into an adventure.
So the apple tree is the old part of this story. And the apples, shall we say, borrowed. But what about the rest? What about some kind of brew? In keeping with the apple theme we decided to try out this pork dish using Devon scrumpy. How apt. After browning and seasoning the pork we let it simmer away in a whole bottle of organic cider. Then we added the something I grew. That's easy. Fennel and thyme.
I am glad to say that the result was a fragrant and fruity mix with melt in your mouth pork and a lovely light sauce. I could have used more fennel or even spiced the pork up with fennel seeds but it was a good first effort. Served with a mustard and horseradish mash, it was the perfect dish for a Sunday night in September.
Admittedly I cooked it on the hob. But, with a little patience I could have cooked it over the fire while I went scrumping for more! Can you see it? Ruddy cheeks and bobble hats, starry skies and smiles. And bowls of hot apple, fennel and pork stew.