(Answer: b. Rome. Apple Bobbing was a courting ritual during the celebrations to the goddess Pomona at the end of October. If two youths bit the same apple, they were destined to have a long and fruitful marriage)
(Answer: d. 56%)
(Answer: b. Sweeter)
(Answer: d. The Philippines. Apparently they consume 25 million cases of gin annually)
I really wish I could take credit for this recipe. I really, really do. Unfortunately, my mum gets all the credit. She is gifted at picking up seemingly random things and making magic. In this instance, she made a nut butter, crumbly base, which makes this dessert creamy, sweet, tart, earthy, smooth, crunchy, light and filling – in other words, a perfect combination.
Anyway, I’ve stolen it! I present to you the fruits of my crime.
Serve with Courtney’s Light Cider
Makes 4 filled apples and 16 cupcakes
Happy Halloween everyone!
The weather has turned and it is time for sweet, dense desserts, that will warm you to your toes, so that you will be prepared for all the spooky events.
I present to you a double recipe of gooey stuffed baked apples (they’re like steamed puddings in an apple) and pumpkin-apple cupcakes, with an extra recipe (because I’m extra nice) for Grumblebee Honey Spiced Rum Caramel!
Grumblebee Honey Spiced Rum and Ginger Ale.
The interesting thing about certain events or associations is that sometimes, just sometimes, everything conspires to make all events inevitable. In Aristotelian tragedy there is always a point of no return, where the protagonist makes their choice and from there on in there is only one possible outcome. All plot points lead to a single outcome. Oedipus kills his father and his downfall is determined. When Macbeth kills the king, there will be no good outcome. When Manon decides to abandon her journey to the convent, there is only one path left for her.
The association of apples with Halloween is perhaps less dramatic, but certainly seems to be fate conspiring for a single scenario: toffee apples and apple bobbing.
As long ago as 400BC, there is evidence that people would put out apples and nuts at the turning of the season to feed the spirits. This was to celebrate the Celtic/Gaelic festival of Samhain, marking the end of the harvest season and that festival falls directly between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice, or October 31st.
Apples were a symbol of life, plenty and (most importantly for the spirits) immortality. The offering of apples on Samhain were thought to open the barrier between the living and the dead and thus began the tradition of Halloween.
When the Romans invaded Britain in 55BC (and going forward) they brought their own culture and traditions that they wanted to impose on the populace. The end of Samhain, right? We picked it back up later on?
The Roman festival of Feralia fell in late October, a festival to mark the passing of the dead and also a time to honour Pomona, Roman goddess of fruit, whose symbol was an apple. One of the traditions associated with this festival was youths bobbing for apples together in a barrel. The tradition held that if a boy and a girl bit into the same apple, they were going to have a long and fertile marriage… sort of a proto-Valentine’s day, but also celebrating the dead..?
When All Saint’s Day was established by Pope Boniface IV in 609AD and the Celtic lands were converted (around the 9th century), it seemed natural that the traditions of Samhain would blend with this new festival and lead to pageants of saints, ghosts and devils, as well as the older traditions of bobbing and eating the harvest of apples each year.
(Answer: c) William of Orange’s Accession and the Glorious Revolution. While Gin (a more distilled version of Dutch Genever) had gained some popularity as a medicinal drink during the Stuart reign, but when the Dutch William II and Mary II became co-sovereigns of England, Scotland and Ireland, Gin production proliferated so much that it eventually it became the national drink.)
(Answer: a) Mount Vernon Eggnog was apparently invented by George Washington, although there is no real evidence of this. The recipe circulated as being George Washingtons includes: “One quart cream, one quart milk, one dozen tablespoons sugar, one pint brandy, ½ pint rye whiskey, ½ pint Jamaica rum, ¼ pint sherry – mix liquor first, then separate yolks and whites of 12 eggs, add sugar to beaten yolks, mix well. Add milk and cream, slowly beating. Beat whites of eggs until stiff and fold slowly into mixture. Let set in cool place for several days. Taste frequently.”
I can only assume that this was a for a large party, but for the sake of my health, I am not going to test it out!
(Answer: c) The Trucker Act of 1887 prohibited cider being used as wages, but the practice took a long time to dry out (pun intended) and continued into the 20th century.)
(Answer: d) 1 ripe apple. Apples release ethylene gas, which speeds up the ripening of tomatoes.
My love affair with this recipe started about a year ago and it has developed into a steady, committed relationship of previously unknown depths. It is quick, low energy (both for you and your bills) and clean, only using one bowl and a spatula (and a bowl to weigh out the flour, but I reuse that to weigh out the dogs’ rice, so choose not to count it).
This was originally a Dutch Oven recipe, which always produced crusty, fabulous loaves, but also mean my oven was on at 240°C for 1½ hours and recently I decided… not to do that. So, we were missing out on lovely homemade bread.
Fortunately, I gave into the craze and got myself an air fryer, became dutifully obsessed and one day, while extoling the virtues of this heavenly contraption, I decided to test its limits with this bread. Sorting out the timings was a bit hit and miss, but this recipe is nothing if not forgiving and I quickly hit on this winning recipe for success.
The recipe itself is very simple: yeast, sugar, water, cider, flour and salt. If you stick to the ratios and methodology, it is an extremely flexible recipe, so you can adapt it to your taste. My family likes brown bread, so I personally split my flour between strong white and wholemeal bread flours and that works very well, although it does produce a denser loaf than when I use just strong white bread flour. You can add any herbs and spices you feel like to make it your own.
Cider adds a fantastic flavour to the bread, making it ever so slightly sweeter and much more interesting. So far I’ve stuck with the classics, but I wonder what would happen if you used Mixed Berries Frapple…
Add garlic powder to your flour mix and make a garlic butter to dip the bread into. From experience, this will make any dinner party guest ask for the recipe at the first bite. Serve with Whimple Orchards Cider.
When I cut open an acorn squash, I am immediately struck by the colours and smells of autumn. Bright orange, rich and earthy. It’s like a walk in the woods just when the leaves are beginning to turn. This recipe is perfect to make after a long autumn walk as well. It warms you through and leaves you feeling full and light at the same time - a healthy comfort food.
The other lovely thing is that after you have rubbed the squash with the oil and spices, your hands smell like ginger biscuits for hours afterwards and isn’t that the best smell in the world?
The filling can be whatever you want it to be, but this is the mixture that I personally love. Adzuki beans are one of my favourites when the weather turns, again because of the earthy, filling flavours (so a leftover half tin will get used up very quickly) and you can’t go wrong with onion, garlic and mushroom. The pepper prevents the mixture from becoming a bit dry, which can happen and freshens the mix. The apple and carrot are a lovely addition, especially if you want to emphasise the sweetness of the squash, but they are not essential.
The spice mix I’ve listed below is my personal favourite. I found it in The Forme of Cury, a recipe book from the 14th century. It is called Poudre Forte, or strong powder, a blend of cinnamon, ginger and white pepper, in whatever ratio you prefer. I find a ratio of 2:2:1 works best. I always have a big jar of it on hand, because it seems to go with everything, but you can make it for a single meal, I suppose…
Pairs well with Whimple Orchards Cider
Available here: https://courtneys.online/cider...
Zero waste tips
Seeds: wash them; toss in olive oil, garlic, paprika and salt and roast at 180°C for 12-15 minutes. It’s a healthy snack, or great addition to soup.
Language is a funny thing. We take for granted that words mean what they mean and have always meant what they mean, at least with something as simple as an apple. An Apple is an Apple. A delicious fruit that grows on a tree and when handed to a person, that person will say “this is an apple”. Or, as the basic definition goes “the fruit of the apple tree”.
What if I were to tell you that that was not always the case?
Unsatisfied with the definitions I was finding or was casting around to invent, I turned to my mum’s absolutely enormous Complete Oxford English Dictionary, which is two volumes that are too heavy for my kitchen scales, borderline too heavy for me to lift and require a magnifying glass to read. I hope you appreciate my efforts.
And the results of these labours? An apple is indeed the fruit of the apple tree.
The word itself actually derives from the Old English word ‘æppel’, which is itself derived from proto-Germanic word ‘aplaz’ and in both case the word originally meant ‘a fruit’… any fruit could be called an apple, although it seemed to have been used most often when a fruit (or vegetable) had a vaguely apple-ish shape. As the dictionary says ‘… from the earliest period the word was used with the greatest latitude’.
An Apple of Punic, for example, meant the Pomegranate.
Dates were ‘finger-apples’ in Old English (fingeræppla).
When the fruit was first brought to England, an Apple of Paradise described a banana. Whether the word made the idea, of the other way around, there arose the belief that the banana might have been the real forbidden fruit on the tree of paradise, rather than the too oft criticised apple as in an apple. The theory for this switch of illicit fruit was developed by 15th century missionaries, because the seeds inside the banana formed a cross shape (if you slice the banana across its diameter and not along its length). The cross proved that the banana was clearly the fruit in the Garden of Eden. The historic timeline of this theory is a bit awry, when the old and new testaments collide … but it does let the apple off the hook, so I’ll let them have this one.
A Cucumber was an earth-apple (eorþæppla). Not to be confused with the real Apple Cucumbers (confusing when Googling the difference).
Wild Tomatoes were known as Apples of Sodom, a fruit which ancient writers believed would dissolve into smoke when plucked… I think the plucked tomatoes might have been overly ripe.
Pomena, the Roman goddess of fruit trees, is named for the sweet apple. The pomme de terre or ‘apple of the earth’ as the potato is called in French?
In the 17th century people made the collective decision that the Apple, as we know it today, deserved to be recognised as the one and only fruit that it is. Not only that, but they honoured it with the name above of all fruit, because that is what it deserved.
(Answer: b) Cider. There were no water filtration systems in the 14th century, but people were beginning to be aware that dirty water could be spreading diseases, like the Black Death. Children were baptised in cider, as it was more sanitary. Cider, Ale and Wine were -commonly drunk throughout the day, rather than water. Sack (sweet or dry sherry) became popular in the 16th century in England, most famously as the Shakespeare character Falstaff’s favourite drink.
(Answer: c) 7500. 2500 varieties are grown in the UK. If you were to eat a different type of apple every day, it would take nearly 7 years for you to get through all the varieties in the UK alone and over 20 years to eat all the varieties in the world.)
(Answer: a) Rum. Rum is made from fermented sugarcane and references to such a drink is recorded in places as disparate as ancient India, the Malay Peninsula, Cyprus, Iran and Brazil, throughout ancient and early medieval times. Distilled rum was first produced in the Caribbean in the 17th century, as plantation slaves discovered that molasses (a by-product of sugar refining) could be fermented and that distillation made it purer.)
(Answer: d) 48lbs. A ‘bushel’ is not a standard measurement and its definition changes depending on what you are weighing. A bushel of fresh apples is 48lbs. A bushel of dried apples is 21lbs. A bushel of apple seeds is 40lbs… I really am very grateful for the metric system.)
I love making curds. Adore it. It’s quick, cheap and incredibly flexible.
A good curd is delicious on toast (obviously – most things are), but it also forms the basis of so many desserts and when I have a curd in the fridge it means I can whip something delicious up in seconds: mousse, ice cream, cake, waffles, tarts, cream buns. It has literally never gone wrong… so far… when it inevitably fails next time, I’ll blame writing this.
Apple curd is amazing. For a long time, I didn’t bother with it, convinced the flavour of the apple would be over-powered by the custard. The only thing I’m upset about is that I didn’t try this before. The flavour of apple comes through so well and I can’t wait to use it in everything!
While not essential, the addition of Grumblebee's Rum adds a lovely honey aspect. Be careful not to add too much, or it will make the curd too liquid. Be sure to add any alcohol when the curd is off the heat, to avoid the curd splitting.
The biggest surprise in this experiment was what a difference different types of sugar make. When I made this recipe with dark brown sugar it came out with a toffee apple quality, deep and beautiful, with a very autumnal quality. Next time I make this (and there WILL be a next time) I might add some cinnamon and make it a truly, properly autumny experience. When I made it with caster sugar, the result was more apple-y and more suited for lighter desserts.
The only problem with either recipe is that I doubt either jar will make it into a dessert, since I can’t stop ‘taste testing’ the results!