I dream of apples, I really do. I am in search of great apple pie everywhere I travel. I knew from the first bite that the apple pie at Mom’s Apple Pie in Sonoma County, California, would be the best and yes – it is. And now, I have the best apple-anything-book in print, with beautiful photos and recipes that are sure to be treasured and handed down for generations.
Consider this grand book an encyclopedia of all things apple – Delicious, Macintosh and Jonathan Gold. I feel a kinship to the author who grew up very close to my own home town in Connecticut, where apple picking in the autumn was as traditional and anticipated as the first warm apple cobbler that mom made on a Sunday afternoon.
Like the author of The Apple Lover’s Cookbook, I was married near an apple orchard. We decorated guest rooms at The Apple Tree Inn with apple cider candles, apple candies, tiny jars of apple butter and yes, an apple pie waiting in each guest room. While New Englanders long thought they had cornered the market on all things apple orchards because of Thoreau writing about his love of the New England coastal apple orchards, “Every wild apple shrub excites our expectation thus, somewhat as every wild child. It is, perhaps a prince in disguise. What a lesson to man!”
In the early settlements, author Amy Traverso explained that apples were not just a sweet table fruit but also a source for apple cider vinegar; used in preserving. They provided hard cider to drink and from cider came distilled ciderjack which was used as a spirit, a preservative and an anesthetic. It was a big source of commerce and income for early settlers.
Today Washington State is the largest apple producer, while New England boasts some of the most distinct varietals, certainly some of the oldest. Varietals range in the hundreds with new hybrids emerging from even China. But, tell that to an old Bostonian with a record dating back to the 1600s of fine new apple varietals growing in Roxbury, Massachusetts.
According to Traverso’s book, your tools of the trade to be an apple baker are quite simple. You will need: apple corer, peeler, slicer, biscuit cutter, mandolin slicer, melon ball scoop, and a zester.
The recipes in this fairly comprehensive book range from soups and starters to poultry, meat and fish entrees to pancakes, donuts, biscuits and breads and my favorite chapter – pie, crisps, cobblers and betties. Each chapter has engaging stories about local farms from Lebanon, Massachusetts to Ogunquit, Maine. You can almost smell the aroma of the apples simmering in cinnamon and the crust being cut with butter and sugar. This is the apple lovers everything-book and limiting my favorite recipes to three do not even begin to show the depth of a grand apple book such as this. Place it on your kitchen counter or coffee table for display next to a bowl of local and colorful farm-fresh apples and a good apple peeler.