We stepped off the plane in Anchorage a month ago. The sun was shining brightly; the air crisp and cold. Our clothing, suitable for 75°F weather we left behind in Greece, left us shivering in Alaska.
We were one of the last to pass customs; our suitcases, fully packed with delicious Greek ingredients (including 30 pounds of cheeses), attracted intense governmental scrutiny. We helplessly stood by while a neophyte customs agent mauled delicate cheeses, sticking his thumb through their centers. Puzzled, he gave the cheese to a more senior agent for scrutiny, who immediately approved its entry. At long last, all our food passed muster, albeit a little worse for wear.
Because of the customs hold up, we missed the normal 30-people-fighting-for-10-taxis that happens after every international flight lands in Anchorage. Tired and relieved, we stepped into a waiting taxi and headed home.
Anchorage was awash with color: the sky, brilliant blue; the trees, gloriously gold. The mountains surrounding the city were deep green and snowless.
A month later, the trees are bare and the mountaintops dusted with snow. Anchorage’s one-month autumn is nearly over. Every day we hear snow is imminent, but so far it hasn’t yet fallen. Today it’s raining, so maybe tonight is the night.
Since we’ve been back, supermarket produce sections have been overflowing with fall fruits. I was excited to find a box of Italian prune plums at Costco, a variety well suited for baking and only available in the fall. Crisp, new season apples and pears are starting to show up. They’re excellent for eating out-of-hand and full of fresh juices perfect for pies, crisps, and cakes.
With all the fall fruit that’s landed in my kitchen, I’ve been doing a lot of baking. So far, my favorite treats are a pair of simple to mix, one-bowl cakes that are packed with fruit and wonderful flavor: Plum Torte and Quick Apple Cake.
If you only have time to make one, I’d go for the Plum Torte, perhaps made with wild blueberries. Unless, that is, you have this year’s apples, then I’d make Quick Apple Cake. You could make both, like I did. And quickly give them away, like I did, lest I eat an entire cake all by myself. Don’t laugh; they’re both that good.