Thursday, 2 November 2017

Comfort Me With Apples

Sustain me with raisins, comfort me with apples, for I am faint with love [Song of Solomon 2;5]
I am the ancient apple-queen,
As once I was so am I now.
For evermore a hope unseen,
Betwixt the blossom and the bough.

Ah, where's the river's hidden Gold!
And where the windy grave of Troy?
Yet come I as I came of old,
From out the heart of Summer's joy

I do love this tapestry by Pre-Raphaelite Edward Burne Jones - he stitched it to accompany the Pomona poem written by his friend William Morris.
This autumn seems to have been a good one for the apple harvest. 
In his Lake Wobegon books, author Garrison Keillor describes the churchgoers in his little Minnesota town as all being both good, and generous gardeners. In the summer months, they arrive on Sundays with bags of tomatoes, seeking to pass on their excess harvest to others. But as they're all doing it, nobody is keen to take the produce. Consequently, they try and offload their glut by stealth. GK describes waking up to find 'bags of Christian tomatoes' left anonymously on the front porch! 
Here at United Church Ferndown, we are similarly blessed by green-fingered benefactors- at the moment, it's cooking apples. The huge box was there again on Sunday - with a roll of bags beside it. Unlike GK's fictional Lutherans and Catholics, our congregation received the fruit with joy. It was heartening to see so many people leaving after coffee time, each clutching bags containing 4 or 5 apples. Some fruit had slight blemishes or bruising, but that's easy to remove.
Once we got home from church on Sunday, I prepared my fruit, and discovered I had enough for three little puds [so one went to Jim-next-door, who has a sweet tooth, and always enjoys a home-made treat]
I cheated with the custard, and made up a sachet of Lidl's instant sauce. I'd picked up a 'no-added-sugar' one, we've not had that before. Pleasant, but a surprisingly almond flavour, when I was expecting vanilla.
I have some little "Charlie Bigham" pie dishes - these are the perfect size for individual apple crumbles. CB's pies are very tasty, and you do get the lovely dish with them - but they usually retail around £7.50 -£8 for two. That's way beyond what I would pay for a pie. But I discovered that the Waitrose at South Mimms Services on the M25 stocks them. SM is midway between The Manse and Cornerstones, so we almost always stop there en route to and from Norfolk. Three times now, I've gone in to the shop late in the evening just as they are closing and picked up a pair of pies for around £2.50. Passing on this tip to anyone else who may travel that way! You can also buy the empty dishes [overpriced] on eBay, or find them sometimes in Charity Shops in posh High Streets.
Sometimes I think it would be lovely to have my own apple trees producing bumper harvests - but then I realise I'd probably end up like Diane Keaton, in the film Baby Boom, where she ends up working 24/7 in her steamy kitchen producing dozens of jars of applesauce.
Do you grow your own apples? 
What is your favourite way of cooking them?
Do you have an unusual recipe to share?


  1. I AM the Ancient Apple Queen. My boss has a huge apple orchard and I'm in charge of picking,packing,stewing them all. If I see another apple this side of Christmas, I shall despair. I have one tiny apple tree in my garden which I bought in Lidl about 4 years ago for £3.99 and it's been a bumper harvest this year! I so loved that film 'Baby Boom'! This year I tried making Apple Butter (it's not really butter but it is smooth and creamy and great on toast) and it is delicious. I think I got the recipe from Sarah Raven's seasonal cookbook. I shall check and get back to you.

  2. Diane Keaton!! Love her. Have you read any Garrison Keillor? Everyone tells me he's very good but I have never got round to him

  3. NanaGoGo - never made apple butter, sound great though. We too have a Lidl tree, about 4 years old, not had any bumper harvests yet! NM, I love GKs books, although his first Wobegon is definitely the best. You'd appreciate his gentle humour regarding offbeat churchgoers!

  4. Our apple trees don't produce now; they don't get enough sun. We've had them at another property, and this year my brother gave me many large Wolf River apples. I had applesauce and apple butter, and I've loved both! Your little pudding bowls are adorable.

  5. Apple pie is a favorite and apple jam. In fact, daughter is visiting this weekend and she asked if I had any apples to make a pie - will be going and buying some apples, tomorrow, I think.


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