Apples by Tasha Halpert

Apples 2

Apples

When we moved to Grafton in 1989, one of the first joys I discovered was the wonderful apple orchard on Creeper Hill. The owners grew many of the old fashioned apple varieties and I went there each fall to purchase the different kinds they sold. Sometimes they would talk to me about their varieties and I enjoyed learning from them. In the spring I looked forward to seeing the orchard of pink apple blossoms that filled the air with their scent.

Then one year I went to see them, only to discover that the trees had been cut down. Houses were being built where the trees had been. I cried. Part of me grieved the loss of the precious old trees. Another part remembered the orchard I had played in as a child. My great grandfather delighted in planting different varieties of fruit trees. As well as apple, there were several varieties of pear trees. There were also quince trees with hard fuzzy green fruit. They could not be eaten raw but were delicious stewed or made into jelly.

Every year I look forward to the fresh apples of the fall. I love making applesauce, apple crisp, and what I call Sauce of Apples. This is not applesauce. For one thing I peel the apples, cooking them only long enough to be cooked through but still more or less keep their shape. For another I add vanilla for flavor and enough raisins to make them nice and sweet. They can be served over cake, pudding, ice cream or simply as a low calorie dessert.

My old Fanny Farmer Cooking School Cookbook–10th edition 1959 has apple desserts that most may not have ever heard of, let alone eaten. it is rare for these recipes to be found in modern cookbooks: Apple Brown Betty, Apple Gingerbread Upside Down Cake, Apple Cobbler, Apple crisp, Apple Kuchen, Apple Pan Dowdy, and Apple Indian Pudding. There are also several recipes for apple pie, one with cranberries and raisins. I just found a tasty looking bread pudding made with applesauce I want to try.

The apple crisp I made tonight is sitting on the stove for tomorrow’s enjoyment. I think it tastes even better the next day. A food processor simplifies the topping. I peel and slice enough apples to fill an eight inch square pan, pour a little maple syrup over them, sprinkle with cinnamon and stir well. Then I cut up a stick of butter and put it in my food processor with a half cup brown sugar and a half cup flour. Whirl until they are nicely mingled, then add a half cup of old fashioned rolled oats. Whirl briefly to combine then distribute the mixture over the apples and bake for an hour in a 350 degree oven. Yummy!

Hereabouts there are multiple farm stands throughout the area that sell a wide variety of apples. There are also opportunities to pick your own. My great grandfather planted his small orchard with many varieties of apples. I played there often, picking up fallen apples from Late August until November. The trees he planted bore fruit all throughout the fall. It was most likely there that my love affair with apples began.

An Old Fashioned Apple Pudding

Fall is apple season, aoday I had some very special apples to process. They came from  trees growing in the yard of a house I’ve been helping clear out. Most of what Stephen and I had found was fit only for applesauce. However as I cut up our gleanings,I found to my great joy there were a few that had no worms or rotten spots to speak of and looked  easy to peel. We had recently eaten most of the things I usually make from apples–apple crisp, apple compote, and baked apples, so I wanted to find something new and different to make from this remarkable  fruit. I looked in my old Fanny Farmer’s Boston School of cooking cookbook and remembered something from my own childhood I had been fond of. Here is the recipe as Miss Farmer suggested making it, together with a note of what I did. I might add I used a hearty gluten free bread. Cream, whipped cream or any kind of sauce would taste good with this, as would ice cream. Prefer less calories? Use soy, rice, almond, oat or other grain non dairy milk..

Apple Brown Betty

This simple tasty recipe from my old Fanny Farmer’s cookbook is well worth making and eating at any meal, breakfast, dessert, or tea. Butter a 1/12 to 2 quart casserole. preheat oven to 350.

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh breadcrumbs, crumbled small

1/4 cup melted butter

4 cups sliced, peeled tart apples

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 tsp nutmeg or 1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup hot water

(Optional) grated rind and juice of half a lemon

Method: Peel apples and cut into slices–thinner is better than thicker, but not paper thin. Mix breadcrumbs and melted butter. Mix up brown sugar and cinnamon with optional grated rind and juice of half a lemon  or not. Put a layer of breadcrumbs on the bottom, pour half the apples over, sprinkle with half the brown sugar mixture.Put on rest of apples, top with rest of sugar and the crumbs. Pour hot water over all and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Important: Cover the top for the first 30 minutes.

Cook’s Note: I mixed the sugar with the apples because I read the recipe wrong, and it turned out just fine. I didn’t put in the lemon either. Make it simple if you like. This was delicious made with 3 Bakers white gluten free bread. You need a hearty crumb for best results, so use any hearty whole grain loaf, gluten free for those who prefer.

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Photo and article copyright 2013 Tasha Halpert