AS AMERICAN AS.....
12 July 2005
Our apple tree is about to yield a bumper crop. It's one of those fruit trees we planted when we first moved here which survives despite my lack of attention. Actually, it's about the only one which does. The apricot tree that was on the property when we bought it died years ago. The peach tree developed some horrible disease and though it had given us buckets of delicious peaches each year, overnight it was barren and had to be removed.
The nectarine tree still produces fruit, but they are hard and dry and never quite reach maturity.
We had a prolific plum tree, but with neglect, it stopped producing fruit on the lower branches and as the tree grew higher and higher, all the fruit was unreachable and we never knew that it had ripened until it fell to the ground and started rotting.
There are a few straggly blackberries off of the vines that I planted during my very, very brief "earth mother" period, but never more than a handful.
The grapes I planted on a whim overrun us each year and have become a real nuisance. Though we clear them out each year, they keep coming back.
But that leaves the apple tree which is always heavily laden with fruit most of which drops and rots before I even realize that it has become ripe.
My past is deeply rooted in memories of apples.
There was a huge apple tree on my grandmother's property and I remember my cousin Peach and I sitting in the tree, munching apples, and having long heart-to-heart conversations.
One of my fondest memories of my mother is sitting at the kitchen table, a big bowl in her lap, another on the table, peeling apples and slicing them into paper thin slices for her delicious apple pie. She would then sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar and we would always sneak tasts...I liked that almost as much as I liked the pie itself, though as a pie crust connoisseur, having it all put together into a pie was wonderful too.
"Mom and apple pie" are so deeply rooted in my pleasant memories that I am forever finding "apple pie things" to give to her on gift-giving occasions.
Gravenstein apples were always my favorite. Crisp, tart and yet sweet. A little tinge of red on the green skin. Yum. A big crisp Gravenstein apple was a big treat for me until I was in my mid-30s.
When I was in the hospital after having given birth to Ned, my mother brought me three big, beautiful crisp Gravenstein apples. For some reason--obviously some hormonal change--I took a bite and just couldn't eat them. I've never had that same Gravenstein craving again, though when we moved here and decided to plant an apple tree, I did choose a Gravenstein, since they are best for baking.
When I was following my diet (remember those days? sigh...), I ate tons of apples--can't remember what kind now, but they were red tinged with yellow and very crisp and sweet.
In my earth mother days, I processed lots apples. Lots and lots and lots of apples. I made applesauce (big sweet bites flavored with cinnamon--best served still warm, before canning).
I also made lots of pies. Now the thing about apple pies is that making the pie is a snap. I make great crusts and my pies are really delicious. But you have to peel the damn apples. I hate peeling apples. I even bought one of those fancy apple peelers, only to discover that they only work well if you have a perfectly symmetrical apple, which lets out about 90% of the apples I harvest.
So I'm always looking for recipes that use apples that don't have to be peeled. I need to decide pretty soon, though, because those babies are going to be ripe any minute now! I did try making apple pie with unpeeled apples and it turned out not too bad. Not as good as mother used to make, but then mother didn't mind peeling apples.
Eddie Update: I thought Eddie was going to have to leave last night. For some reason, he started attacking Kimba and wouldn't stop. Sheila was great and kept her body between Eddie and Kimba and when Eddie managed to get to Kimba, Sheila would pin him down. It was pretty amazing.
But finally it just got to be too much and Eddie had to have "time out" in the crate. I warned Ashley that she might have to find somewhere else for him, if it didn't get better. I let him out an hour or so later, and things seemed to be OK again, but I was a little leery about leaving him out during the night, but everything went all right and today things seem back to normal again.
But he is very definitely Ashley's dog (he spent 3 weeks with her and they bonded firmly). She was here today and since she left, he has been lying by the front door and at one point actually wailing. He is not at all happy that I won't let him run out the front door and look for her.
PHOTO OF THE DAY