Blog Action Day: Apples

On this Blog Action Day, I hope you will remember one thing, and that is to enjoy food. No meaningful change will ever come to our food system until we reframe our approach to food, and get back to the simple enjoyments of eating quality food.

Clockwise from the top: Rhode Island Green, Splendor, Liberty, Golden Russet, Red Gravenstein, and Bramley's Seedling. Goldrush is in the middle

Yesterday I went to the Distillery Lane Ciderworks and enjoyed a beautiful if windy day in historic fields a few miles north of the Potomac river. Where Union and Confederate soldiers marched 150 years ago, this farm is growing dozens of varieties of apples, many of them heirloom breeds. From British cider apples to Heritage Americans and a few modern cultivars, the tour group sampled the different hard cider produced on the farm and chose apples to take home.

I picked up a few that were in season (ok, almost a peck).  I wish I could convey how exciting it is to have access to the multitude of apple varieties just an hour’s drive away!  While some of the varieties are best eaten out of hand, some of them only truly shine when baked.  In that vein, and in celebration of local, seasonal food, I baked an apple crisp. Saving the Gravensteins for a pie, I went for the Bramley’s Seedlings, an apple with a fascinating history and outstanding flavor. Pared and dusted with sugar and cinnamon, I baked them into an apple crisp.

I prepared the apples as usual, by peeling and slicing them, then adding sugar and cinnamon (I couldn’t resist nibbling the cores and taking a few bites along the way).

For the crumble, I added oats, flour, brown sugar and butter, mushing everything up with my fingers until coarse. I didn’t bother with exact measurement, about a handful of each and a stick of butter, minus the pats I put in with the apples.

There is something so pleasing about using local ingredients at the height of their season to create a memorable meal. Evocative, comforting, nourishing, the apple is without a doubt the most symbolic of our fruits in the western tradition.

What the folks at Distillery Lane Ciderworks are trying to do is laudable. We are deprived of the variety of flavor and texture available if no one preserves these traditional and sometimes finicky varieties. We must love our food enough to give it the care and attention it deserves and we deserve. After all, the adage goes you are what you eat. Taking the time and attention needed to nourish yourself and those close to you is an act of love.  In the world today, it seems like indeed a revolutionary act. This is the food revolution I want to see.

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