Some of my favorite childhood memories involve sharing food with family and friends. My interest in food and hospitality originates in rural Central New York, and now I hope to share this food with all of you at my tea house café near Albany NY Since we lived on a farm, we always had access to fresh milk and cream. I vaguely remember my mom churning butter, which looked like a lot of work to me, for little return! Sweet, whipped cream on warm chocolate cake was pure delight. If friends or family dropped by unexpectedly, Mom always managed to find something delicious to offer them- strawberry shortcake on homemade biscuits, warm apple pie, or hand-picked blackberry cobbler.
In the summer, there was corn- lots of corn- both for the cows and for the family, and we often got lost playing in the cornfields. We raised chickens, pigs and Holsteins, those black and white goddesses that occasionally wandered about the yard or into the neighbors’ gardens. Sometimes, they seemed obsessed with finding the weakest part of a fence to push through, and their herd mentality led to more than one late night phone call, when we’d all head out to usher them home. Fixing fence was the bane of my father’s and brothers’ existence, I think, and a never-ending chore. Whenever I hear the Cole Porter song, “Don’t Fence Me In,” I am reminded of our girls and their wanderlust. Did they take some perverse, bovine pride in interrupting our supper to come and get them? They seemed so proud to have gotten to the other side.
Summer time was hay time. Mow it, rake it, bale it, hoist it onto the wagon and then load it onto the elevator, with someone else in the hay barn to shift and pile the bales. Our swimming hole provided cool relief from the hot days’ work.
In the fall, the apple trees were loaded, and it was time to make cider. Mom lamented that cider time, which was more work and mess for her, coincided with back to school. So the pulpy, brown-stained muslin strainers had to be washed, apples picked through for worms or rotten spots; at the same time we were squeezing our feet into new or little-worn shoes just after Labor Day. But we happily poured pails full of apples thumpety-thump into the chute, felt the resistance as we turned the wheel on the cider press, and marveled at the pool of precious, sweet-smelling golden ale as it dripped and gushed into scum-covered containers from which we happily drank to show off our mustaches.
This was my life growing up on a farm, and this is where my love for simple, home-cooked food stems from. My goal in starting this new journey at our tea house café near Albany NY is to spread some of these wholesome culinary pleasures throughout the community. I hope you’ll stop in and join us at our café near Albany NY for brunch, lunch, or afternoon tea and scones and to relax and find comfort and serenity in our homey atmosphere.