Country Cook News – October 2, 2014

Hi Everyone!

SEPTEMBER CONTEST QUESTION OF THE MONTH

How many known varieties of apples are cultivated around the world: 5,500, 7,500 or 10,500? Send your answers to books@porkchopsandapplesauce.net.

The favorite cookie in the United States is Chocolate Chip. This was the answer to the August Contest Question of the Month and it was answered by April Poirier of Auburn, Washington. She hasn’t chosen her book yet but I have a hunch it’ll be “The Dog Did What?”

Answer the CONTEST QUESTION OF THE MONTH and win a signed copy of any one of my books. Here’s a link to my Books page to see which books you can win (scroll down to see the complete selection).

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RECIPE OF THE MONTH

Autumn, also considered the official opening of apple season by yours truly, arrived last Monday, September 22, 2014 at 10:29 P.M. EDT. So, as you might expect, the Recipe of the Month and this entire newsletter is devoted to the glorious and versatile apple.

German Apple Cake is a vintage recipe that fully deserves the spotlight as Recipe of the Month. A longtime friend, April Poirier, gave me the recipe back in the early 70s. You might have noticed that April is also the September winner of the Question of the Month. I still have the original recipe, handwritten on a plain recipe card in April’s noticeably neat script.

We’ve both transformed this rich, traditional beauty into cupcakes, mini-cupcakes, layer cakes and sheet cakes for weddings, baby showers, book signings and numerous other gatherings throughout the years. Serve it plain to apple purists or dress it up with whipped cream, ice cream or caramel sauce (as pictured). It’s a moist and versatile, old-fashioned favorite that celebrates the arrival of autumn and apples.

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APPLE QUOTE

Goodness comes out of people who bask in the sun, as it does out of a sweet apple roasted before a fire. ~ Charles Dudley Warner

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BLOG OF THE MONTH

Apple Journal: A Passion for Apples is my choice as Blog of the Month. This blog comes from Washington State, which is the apple producing capital of the U.S. (Michigan, Iowa and New York run close behind). This is a charming site with plenty of apple facts, recipes, apple storage and cooking tips, a chart on which apples are good for cooking, baking or snacking, and my personal favorite, apple quotes from great poets.

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A FALL GIFT FOR YOU

Bumper Crop: Beginning with Apples is one of my first loves. Get your free copy by clicking HERE, and feel free to share with your friends.

Bumper Crop kicked around my computer for several years before I made it into a full-fledged book. It’s now available on Amazon in e-book form, but I put on my techy hat and figured a way to send you a complimentary PDF version of my sweet apple baby.

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NEW APPLE

Introduced in 2009, Sweetango has earned raves for its standout flavor and texture. SweeTango, a seasonal apple harvested in early fall, is available during apple season across the United States and Canada.

“Let Your Taste Buds Dance” is the motto for SweeTango apples. I just discovered these little beauties at Wal-Mart this week. They’re crisp and juicy yet sweet and tart. I paid $3.97 for a 2 pound bag so they’re a bit pricy, but well worth the splurge.

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CB’S KITCHEN TIP

Don’t wash or wipe off the fine white fuzz that’s on apples when they’re fresh picked. This natural white film helps preserve the apple’s freshness; so don’t wash the apple until just before cooking or eating it.

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Apples on Tree w Yellow Leaves

WHY DO YOU LIKE FALL?

For me, fall means stepping out of the heat with one foot and into the cool with the other. It’s a time when the temperature is so perfect that, if I closed my eyes, I wouldn’t be able to tell if I’m indoors or outdoors. Ah!

Janice, owner and creator of the Celebrating Family blog has a few thoughts of her own about the beauty and delight of autumn in an article titled “8 Reasons I Love Fall in the Arizona Desert.”

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APPLE FESTIVALS

Apples grow in every state in the U.S., which means there’s probably an apple festival near you that’s gearing up for its annual festivities. Apple festivals usually run from late September through November; in some areas, the festivals run consecutively for 3 to 6 weekends. Timing for festivals will depend on when the apples in your area are ready for harvest.

These festivals have activities for the whole family, and it’s the absolute best place to find the freshest, most economical apples money can buy. Remember, too, it’s always good to support your local farmer.

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Who’d like apples for dinner? Check out 17 different ways you can “wow” your family and friends with apples for dinner. They look tempting!

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ASK CYNTHIA A QUESTION – September 26, 2014

Note: This is a repeat question with some modifications from September 2013 because this is the number one question I’m asked about cooking and baking and certainly about apples. Choosing an apple for cooking shouldn’t be scary, look at it as nothing ventured, nothing gained…besides, you can always Google it.

Janet asked:  Some cookbooks simply call for “cooking” apples; they don’t specify what kind of apple should be used in a recipe. How can I determine which apple is best for what I’m making?

My answer:  In my book, Pork Chops & Applesauce, I learned my lesson about not specifying which apple to use for a recipe because people started saying, “I didn’t make the apple dumplings (applesauce, apple cake, apple pie, etc.) in your book because it didn’t say which type of apple to use.” When I wrote Sweet Apple Temptations I specified in each recipe which apple would work best. Stating the variety of apple to use in a recipe, can however, present problems because there are approximately 2,500 varieties grown in the United States alone and 7,500 varieties grown worldwide. Additionally, what’s available in markets in New York City, Seattle, Los Angeles, Dallas, etc. is vastly different.

My absolute favorite apple for snacking is Ambrosia and for cooking and baking, I like Fuji or Braeburn. I usually purchase Red Delicious or Golden Delicious for salads or snacking. If I have them on hand when I’m making applesauce, I add one or two Delicious varieties in the applesauce along with the hardier apples as a natural sweetener.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac has an informative chart, which states that other than Red and Golden Delicious, nearly all apples can be used for cooking and baking. If you want to make a pie using the Red or Golden Delicious varieties, use a pie recipe specifically calling for Red Delicious apples. My aunt shared her vintage recipe for Red or Golden Delicious apple cake. It’s quite delicious, if you’d like a copy, send your request to books@porkchopsandapplesauce.net with “Vintage Apple Cake” in the subject line.

Probably my favorite all-around choice for “cooking apples” is Fuji, Braeburn, Pink Lady, and Honey Crisp, which are good for snacking and/or cooking.  Price is a consideration when buying apples for cooking or baking. Some, like Ambrosia or Honey Crisp, stay high throughout the year, but if you choose, they are suitable for cooking or baking. You can’t miss with this apple chart, it’ll help you choose apples for your cooking or baking project.

RecipeTips.com has an article “All About Apples” that’s quite good. About mid-way through the article is an excellent chart for finding the apples specific to your locale. Thanks for your question, Janet, and Happy Autumn.

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Until we meet again in October, or until what I call “pumpkin season.”

CB

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