As the dimming sun recedes and the season inexorably turns, other life cycles, wobbly and uncertain, cast a wider arc. Critters reach the same wintry


As the dimming sun recedes and the season inexorably turns, other life cycles, wobbly and uncertain, cast a wider arc. Critters reach the same wintry nadir, but without the promise of return. After 30 years with a beloved but cantankerous parrot, the last thing on earth I wanted was a dog. That I ended up with an end-stage alcoholic roommate is, I admit, not to my credit, but among the ER visits and police calls were the empty food and water bowls of a neglected pet, and when that creature asks you to save his life, what do you do? Fall in love, and give him a home.


Everyone thinks their dog is special, and in some way perhaps they all are, but Koda touched everyone who saw him with his beauty, and for anyone who knew him, his good nature. Quiet and warmly affectionate, but with a bark that could threaten to tear off an arm. Study an enclosed yard intently, and escape before you noticed. He once found a forlorn plush rabbit in the woods, dutifully carried it home, dug a deep hole and gently placed the toy inside, then carefully covered it up to the tips of its ears, and walked away.

The price of this life-changing, delightful if unexpected companionship were the health problems, after 2 years cancer surgery, in another two, its return. Still he went on enriching our lives, and against all prognoses lived to make the move from California to Wisconsin, another summer, a snowy winter, another spring, still going. This summer saw his final decline, and he asked for release a few days after its end. Owners are often sheepish in admitting that such a loss hits harder than that of human family members. There are, I think, two reasons for this: their love is unconditional, and wisely, they don’t talk!


Fortunately I have my work to turn to, and the silent natural beauty of the tranquil redoubt we both loved here in Kewaunee. While it was a challenge to amass all the exotic ingredients for my White, Dark and Winter Fruitcakes this year, the incremental improvements I consistently deploy make them in some way better than ever. A constant puzzle is the size and shape of the ingredients and how they fit together for the mosaic of a slice. To get what I want I must hand-cut nearly everything - now a rough chop for the pecan halves, and even slice the glaceed red cherries if they are large. Note that for the first time I have a very limited number of 4 year-old aged cakes, White and Dark - they won’t last long!


Robert Lambert Fruitcakes

A great treat this season is the return of the Spiced Crab Apples, with a supply that should last longer than the 2 weeks it took to sell out last year. I drove to the family farm to harvest the fruit at its peak from the Whitney crabs my grandfather planted in 1900, and still producing under my brother’s practiced care. A condiment must for every holiday from now to Easter!


Spiced Crab Apples

What’s in a name? This is something I’m ordinarily good at - Hot Ginger Caramel Sauce, Wild Blueberry Lemon Jam, Five Mandarin Marmalade, both evocative and informative. I missed the mark on Semi-Seedless Blackberry Jam, thinking the fear of seeds was greater than the enticement of orange, but I was wrong! So here is my favorite new product, Blackberry Orange Jam, with plenty of juice and zest to compliment the deep purple fruit, and the inimitable galangal root syrup to finish it.


Blackberry Orange Jam

The Hot Ginger Caramel Sauce returns as a seasonal favorite, and I retain my favorite Malted Milk Chocolate Sauce, milk chocolate artfully flavored with malt and whiskey. Lisbon Lemon, Blood Orange and a few units of Rangpur Lime Syrup are available as well!

For all of you I wish a string of happy holidays ahead, please enjoy the fruits of my labors - and Koda says woof from the Great Beyond, as he presses his soft warm furry muzzle gently against your thigh, and smiles…

My Best To You All,
Robert Lambert
Kewaunee Wisconsin
October 2023