Archives for posts with tag: apples

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I just happened upon this wonderful illustrated history of Johnny Appleseed.  Enjoy!

And here’s something that makes an interesting (and convincing) contention: Johnny Appleseed and the Golden Days of Hard Cider.

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Custardy Squash Prune Barberry Squares

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Custardy Quince Squares

Gratitude to the culinary grace of cookery writer Dorie Greenspan for these wonderful Custardy Apple Squares. She writes that she sees the recipe in the link as a “back-pocket recipe.” In the few weeks this recipe has been in my life, I’ve come to consider it a “back-pack” for the ways that it can travel, light and flexibly, be adapted to ingredients on hand, rise to an attitude of perfection or laziness as befits one’s mood, and sit somewhere on a continuum of cake, tea time snack, and pudding (in the various British senses).  And it doesn’t seem to go wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

This song makes me laugh every time! You can follow him on Facebook.  And his blog here.

This one’s pretty good too.  Really chuckled about Pink Lady® apples.

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Well, maybe you feel a little longing when you look at photos of lots of your friends in a city where you used to live. You see their beautiful children, and the making an event of a day pressing apples, fruit that they’ve grown in orchards they’ve planted with love.  Everybody’s pitching in and working toge ther and it’s a productive food-preparation idyll there in suburban Oxford.

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Just learned about this group called Depave.  They de-pave and spread the word.  “Asphalt be gone”: reclaim and reimagine community life; storm water absorption as climate chaos brings record rainfall; play areas; growing beds; “a better urban environment for all living things.” Of course the more soil that is living soil, the better for any hopes for the climate as well.

Sing it, switching the lyrics thus: “Depave parking lot, put up a paradise”

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Spring feels kind of possible even if the winter wasn’t quite winter with its climate-weirding mildness and perpetual rain. Looking at the raised beds –an accomplishment of last summer and purchased as affordable flat-pack type kits from Cwm Harry in Newtown–  I  noticed, on this seasonal cusp,  all that Perpetual Spinach I sowed last spring.   These leaves had somehow never happened last year but had arisen, however scraggly and slug-eaten, and constituted before my eyes a Bed Of Chard.   (That’s what “perpetual spinach” really is, she says with disappointment).

Chard is my least favourite green, I admit.  I just don’t have enthusiasm for it, though Rainbow Chard is so prismatically beautiful and the smaller leaves in the raised bed will be nice in a salad.  And yet, chard is something I’ve managed, as a lazy gardener, to grow prolifically.

I did remember, maybe a decade ago, making a traditional tart from the south of France, recipe for which I found in Jane Sigal’s wonderful book Backroad Bistros: Farmhouse Fare: A French Country Cookbook from 1994.  This is a book that maybe somehow has gotten lost among a fray of great books, but I love it, and could cook and bake my way through relaxed French food with it– wonderful stories, impeccable recipes — a classic in its way.  I recommend it.  And would put it beside the also wonderful When French Women Cook by Madeleine Kamman in a library of my favourite cookery books.

(Backroad Bistros also has a few really enchanting pages on snail farming in Burgundy — this inspired me years back to giving a go to growing snails as a kind of Permaculture operation, since there in Oxford where we lived there were so many, a pestilence really.   I wouldn’t say I succeeded, though was a comical episode– maybe more on this another time.  But if this is something you are interested in, there’s lots of information one could usefully cull from this small chapter.)

I’ve also set myself the challenge to explore the use of vegetables in sweet situations, as I wrote about here in Three Sisters last autumn.  Since then I’ve discovered a wonderful and inspiring blog Veggie Desserts full of creative and beautiful recipes to enjoy.

Here is Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstalls recipe for Tourte de Blettes.  It’s not dissimilar from the one Jane Sigal collected from a market woman in Provence, though it includes lemon zest and has slightly different proportions– and Sigal’s recipe encouraged me to fold the excess dough of the bottom layer up over the top layer, so I got to have something that looked different from my usual style, which I liked.

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And forgive below what is an unappealing photo (food photography is hard!!!!) of a very nice Apple Pie with a layer of chard, removed behind my back by my children off their plates, but hey-ho!  In a few weeks time, they’ll be questioning the nettle tops  and goosegrass I am going to be picking all around the Waysides of Spring and putting in all sorts of imaginings– including, I say, a pastry like this one.

Oh– I saved the apple peelings and cores, added honey and water, and have a new, small batch of wild apple vinegar on the go!

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Vascular Dementia– slow, frustrating, watching capacities diminish but not quite believing what’s happening…  So, my mother-in-law, who was a geriatric social worker, finds herself in the odd position of being in a care home, wishing to take steps a geriatric social worker would take, but being thwarted by Authority (such as it is in a care home) and her own brain fog.

This was an energetic and thoughtful woman, who gave me a tatty copy of a book she’d enjoyed that represents an old and mostly rural way of cooking in Britain: Farmhouse Fare, “Recipes from Country Housewives collected by The Farmers Weekly.”   I often find copies of this book in charity shops, and I always buy it, to give to friends, because it’s such a treasure trove indeed. The edition she gave me is “the first impression of the enlarged (fourth) edition of Farmhouse Fare [and] was published in November 1946.  The second impression appeared in 1947; the third impression in 1950. The fifth revised edition was first published in 1954, reprinted 1956 and 1958,” which dates the copy I have, in beautiful, stained disrepair.  I also have a hardback copy from 1979 with a cheesy photographic cover.  Clearly this is a collection that’s been loved.  If you find this book, make it yours.

Last weekend, kids on holiday from school, we went to see my mother-in-law, and my husband popped by her recently sold house to talk with the new owners.  They weren’t in, but he took some apples lying on the grass underneath the old apple tree that they had –I hate writing this–  chopped down.  Must have been a recent chop, because the apples on the ground were beginning to get red, these cookers (green) that in most summers never ripen.  These were apples my mother-in-law had enjoyed all through her years in that home, making pies and chutneys and baby food for my babies!  Yes of course new people can do what they want with their new property, but I can’t imagine not loving that tree, that fruitful dwarf apple, variety I-don’t-know.  Wish I could ask Grace, but I don’t want to tell her what they’ve done; I think she’d find it very disturbing.

Somehow to deal with my own sense of injustice, I’m going to work through lots of the apple recipes in Farmhouse Fare.  For the Apple Marigold above, I used the last apples we shall ever have from that beloved tree. My husband collected them in a plastic bag from that grass on that stormy October day.

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I was interested in this Apple Marigold recipe for different reasons– because I’m “collecting” savoury apple recipes, because I love calendula flowers, because I’m interested in using herbs like thyme with apples (herbs in general with fruits in general), because it’s a chance to feel authentic with my enamelled baking dish, because it’s so simple a recipe but so personal, because it’s interesting to explore what British cooking is, English, Welsh, Scottish– and how within seasonal and economic limits “farm women” put together meals they felt proud of.

This recipe tasted wholesome and simple, basically, apples in an unsweetened custard, and the fruit quite discreet from that custard.  I added a little salt which felt necessary.  Of course could one fancify this, by infusing flavours, maybe even adding some pastry down below or on top of.    I’d wished to be able to cut proper rings– for the visual effect– but that didn’t happen.  To Mrs J Preston of Oxfordshire, thank you: I feel this is your recipe, the “marigold” petals and sage and thyme your original idea.  Through the years, there’s a voice in this Marigold Apple, a small celebration of resourcefulness in the name of a quiet artistry.

Meanwhile: I made this today too, with some applesauce from apples that really needed doing.   It’s in the oven now.  Love the simplicity of three ingredients– and even refrained, against the wisdom of experience, from adding any salt or fat, though glugged in some sourdough starter in lieu of “yeast”.   Not sure I let the dough sit long enough, but the oven is on for another purpose so wanted to get the baking done, in the the name of efficient energy use.

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Crabapples: to try one day

I read this years ago, and have often thought about how beautiful and simple this is– just simply time, and water, and crabapples, for beautiful, fermented fruit.  We have a crabapple tree, sitting in a pot, given to us at a Woodland Trust stall at a show.  To be planted soon.

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Post script– this link is gone.  Need to find where the article might have been redirected, but no luck so far.  This was an inspiring account of old Native American ways with crabapples, as I remember, put in a straw basket under the running water of a stream for the winter, the apples fermenting into a sour and beautiful preserve.

Red Apples

Coming home to a gift from my friend Hannah.

Love how she used the litter tray that was floating around for a container. I truly love this. I love resourcefulness. We have no cats right now, and we’ve been using this to sift big bits out of our composted leaf mould into the raised beds.

These are my favourite shoes.

Apples are really plentiful this year, the wet spring, the warm summer. Last year, there were very few. I feel strongly the vagaries of unpredictable extreme weather, records broken constantly in all ways, up, down, wetter, wettest, dryer, driest, strange and ever stranger. A positive mental consequence is that I no longer take anything for granted, and have a much keener sense of gratitude.

Last year, I could imagine that maybe someday apples would be scarce. And maybe they will be, because pollinating bees are in such terrible jeopardy. This year though, there are so many apples around, in shops, on trees everywhere– and more “eating” apples, though I’d come to think of “cooking” apples as those simply less ripe or sweet, having had less time in warm sunshine to become…. so immediately edible. I feel a reprieve, though maybe it’s false– the day apples end is pushed further forward. And a renewed imperative to fight in my small ways for the survival of everything that matters.

It’s a balmy autumn day. There was white sky, and a blue sky, and a sense of changeability, and now some drizzle. Even normal doesn’t feel normal.  I can no longer not have a sadness about so many things, which all feel a part of the cycles of “nature” that have been so … shunted into unknown possibility.  Apples feel a part of this story.  So, gratitude for them, big thank you to Hannah, and slice them in quarters to offer to my children.

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PS  I want to write about something I’ve learned about through a friend in London.  On 7th of October, yesterday, Camberwell Community Green Orchard was bulldozed  by Southwark Council for a building scheme that could have happened elsewhere and which was fought by the community.  You can read about this on the internet.  I am really feeling this terrible loss.   It had been a garden project, 20 years ago, in which children established an urban orchard that would be a sanctuary for years to come.   There’s a violence to the destruction of trees, of a garden, of the fruition of people’s efforts towards healing and sanctifying our cities with beauty.  My friend is really upset.  I’ve never been to this orchard, but I too feel upset.  Because we critically need to be creating these spaces, and in a time in which this is so clear, a council, representing government, aggressively spits on our hopes for a livable future.

Neither Snow-White Nor Eve Nor I Could Resist

What gorgeous, sweetly tart, nicely textured apples these are, though I don’t know their story at all. I gathered these as wind-falls from the ground under the tree in a park area adjacent to a town car-park, and just gasped with awe for their beauty when I got home and cut one open. Here’s a link to a US site, but I think there are additional elements to be learned for the British part of the story…

http://www.orangepippin.com/resources/general/red-flesh-apples

Or, here’s a link to growers in Wales who grow and sell I might guess the same variety called Severn Black:

http://welshmountaincider.com/index.php/apple-pear-tree-nursery/stocklist-apples-p-z

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