Sunday, September 14, 2008
The Tempting Apple
We picked apples in Thomas Jefferson's backyard. Up a winding wooded mountainside just minutes from Monticello sits Carter Mountain Orchard and vineyards. Jefferson's favorite variety was the Taliaferro apple, which is now presumed to be extinct, so we indulged in the harvest of dozens of Galas, Golden Delicious and Jonagolds.
Aidan used the tools for picking the high ones, and Patrick went low. The little hunter gatherers collected about twenty pounds of apples so if you have recipes, send them along.
We told the kids they had to rub their apples off before they ate them because the orchard isn't organic.
"They're right from the tree, Mom. They're not dirty," Aidan said.
"Well, I think these are probably sprayed with some type of pesticides, Aid," I said.
"No, these are all natural ... from the tree."
"When you spray with any kind of chemical, it's natural, yes, but not organic. You need to wipe or rinse them. Actually, you really should rinse or wipe any fruit."
"Nah, these are fine."
He was in denial. The idea that invisible pesticides or other oogies could taint his all-natural apple experience was too much. He picked and ate with abandon. I let it go for the moment. Afterall, we all construct our own narratives, right? Eat the apple. Don't eat the apple. That timeless tempting question has gotten more than one of us in trouble before. So, I rubbed all the fruit when he wasn't looking, including the four Jack ate.
Dirk interpreted Rene Magritte's painting of man with apple ... I said it was more firing squad than Son of Man.
He said, "Cool it there, Eve."
No sooner did he stand from this shot than a two-foot black garden snake emerged from the grass and slithered across our path. The boys got too close. I yelled to them to back off, and then I started to take a picture. For some reason, I just couldn't.
I said, "Hey, Adam, I'm ready to call it a day."
Dirk and I walked the kids around the snake and through the neat rows of apple trees back to the barns. The day was hot with temperatures hovering in the low 90s. Not crisp sweater September weather. More like smoothie September weather. We cooled off with fresh peach and muscadine grape ice slushes and apple cider doughnuts.
There we were in the warm splendor of the sun, full with fruits of the garden, overlooking some of America's most fertile soil, and all we could talk about was the snake.
Nugget o' the Moment: "I couldn't stop watching that snake." - Patrick at once intriqued and repelled.
Here's what I'm making tomorrow:
Cinnmon Apple Crisp
from Bon Appetit, March 1993
1 cup firmly packed golden brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, sliced
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in large bowl. Add apples and toss to coat. Transfer apple mixture to prepared dish.
2. Combine flour, 1 cup sugar and butter in medium bowl. Using pastry blender or fingertips, blend ingredients until coarse meal forms. Spread flour mixture evenly over apples.
3. Bake crisp 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake crisp until apples are tender and topping is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.