Posts Tagged ‘Janet M. Christensen’

WE ARE ALWAYS INTERESTED in books about apples, and four titles published between 1993 and 2012 have recently come our way:

IMG_0393A Basket of Apples (Harmony Books, 1993) by Val Archer is a worthy addition to our collection for the author’s watercolor illustrations alone. Every page and every recipe is accompanied by a beautiful painting, and there is a section with thumbnail images of dozens of apple varieties. The book has a distinctly English flavor (Archer is a native and studied at the Royal College of Art). We have yet to try her recipes, so we cannot vouch for them, but there are some intriguing titles like “Apple and Stilton Strudel” and “Wilted Spinach Salad with Apple and Feta,” plus standards like apple pie and muffins.

IMG_0392Apples (Applewood Books, 2009) is chock full of apple images in painting, photography, and advertising. It is a picture book that provides a good overview of how apples have been grown and sold over the past century. A small, thin volume, it is entertaining through a combination of nostalgia and contemporary images.

Apples, Apples and More (Ineda Publishing, third edition, 2006) by McGarvey Summers is at the other end of the spectrum from Apples: a no-frills cookbook without illustration. The book opens with this warning: “These recipes are not low fat, low sugar, or low carbohydrate!! They were put together by old-timey cooks and bakers for enjoyment! They are not for those on a diet, or for those who don’t like good food.”

IMG_0394Despite this, honey replaces or reduces white sugar in many of the recipes, and a number of recipes include healthy ingredients like whole wheat flour. Some of the recipes are simple to prepare with processed foods among the ingredients, and there are some not-so-subtle advertisements for certain brands. But there are some interesting choices, too. Recipes that caught our eye include “Apple Rhubarb Pie,” “Baked Apple Charlotte,” “Cranberry Apple Cobbler,” and “Applesauce Pudding.”

IMG_0388John P. Bunker’s self-published Not Far From the Tree: A Brief History of the Apples and the Orchards of Palermo, Maine (third printing, 2012) contains a wealth of information about heirlooms and apple growing, lavishly illustrated with black-and-white drawings, many by the author. While his jumping off point is narrow, as the title suggests, and there is lots of local history, Bunker covers a lot of ground in his detailed, first-person descriptions of varieties and horticulture. Bunker’s interest in apples extends more than three decades as a founder of Fedco Trees, a source for many heirloom apple varieties.


IMG_0396A FIFTH BOOK celebrating apples was previously known to us, but deserves special mention as it celebrates its 35th anniversary in 2013. The Apple Orchard Cookbook (Countryman Press, second edition, 2010) by Janet M. Christensen and Betty Bergman Levin resulted from an apple-cooking contest held on WCVB-TV’s former “Good Day!” program, which Levin wrote and produced. She suggested that a proposed cooking contest feature apples because of their accessibility, affordability, and, she says, “their extraordinary versatility and delectable taste!”

Three recipes were chosen from each New England state. The top selection from each state held a “cook-off” on the air in the studio “where I was able to get an oven manufacturer to provide six ovens and get them to the studio,” says Levin.

One recipe that Christensen and Levin included in the book’s second edition was from a cousin of Levin’s from South Africa, who made and served it at her grandson’s Bar Mitzvah. “It’s a recipe I’ve never seen elsewhere and was surprisingly good when I tasted it,” Levin says.

Julia’s Danish Herring

1 12 oz. jar marinated herring with onions

1/4 c vegetable oil

1/4 c tomato paste

1/2 c chopped apple (tart like Granny Smith or Rhode Island Greening)

1/4 c brown sugar

Cut herring into 1/2-inch squares or bits. Mix all ingredients. Refrigerate for 24 hours. Serve with crisp crackers or round of rye or pumpernickel bread.



'Apples of New England' by Russell Steven PowellAPPLES OF NEW ENGLAND (Countryman Press, 2014), a history of apple growing in New England, includes photographs and descriptions of more than 200 apple varieties discovered, grown, or sold in the region. Separate chapters feature the “fathers” of American wild apple, Massachusetts natives John Chapman (“Johnny Appleseed”) and Henry David Thorea; the contemporary orchard of the early 21st century; and rare apples, many of them photographed from the preservation orchard at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, Massachusetts.

Author Russell Steven Powell is senior writer for the nonprofit New England Apple Association after serving as its executive director from 1998 to 2011. Photographer Bar Lois Weeks is the Association’s current executive director.

'America's Apple' coverAMERICA’S APPLE, (Brook Hollow Press, 2012) Powell’s and Weeks’s first book, provides an in-depth look at how apples are grown, eaten, and marketed in America, with chapter on horticulture, John Chapman (aka Johnny Appleseed), heirloom apples, apples as food, apple drinks, food safety insects and disease, labor, current trends, and apple futures, with nearly 50 photographs from orchards around the country.

The hardcover version lists for $45.95 and includes a photographic index of 120 apple varieties cultivated in the United States. America’s Apple is also available in paperback, minus the photograph index, for $19.95, and as an ebook.

Available at numerous bookstores and orchards, and Silver Street MediaAmazon.comBarnes and Noble, and other online sources. For quantity discounts, email newenglandapples@verizon.net.


 TO LEARN MORE about New England apples, visit our website, New England Apples.


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The apple orchard makes a distinctive contribution to fall foliage at Wellwood Orchards, Springfield, Vermont. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

The apple orchard makes a distinctive contribution to fall foliage at Wellwood Orchards, Springfield, Vermont. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Jonagold apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Jonagold apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

JONAGOLD is a bit of a mystery, more popular around the globe than here in the United States, where it was developed. Jonagold is an exceptional apple in flavor, texture, and appearance, but Americans have not yet embraced it in on a large scale. A relatively new variety (1968) named for its parents, perhaps Jonagold is compromised by an unexciting brand identity compared to such new entries as Honeycrisp (1991), Jazz (2004), and SweeTango (2009).

Whatever the reason, Jonagold ranks just 15th in popularity among varieties grown in the United States, sandwiched between Cortland at number 14 and Cameo at 16. Jonagold is much more popular in Canada, Japan, and Europe than in America, especially Belgium, where — like McIntosh in New England — Jonagold accounts for about two-thirds of the apple crop. It is the third most popular variety in Canada. Worldwide (excluding China), Jonagolds rank sixth in production.

Whatever the reasons Jonagold has lagged behind in the land in which it was developed, it is such a flavorful apple that it seems only a matter of time before Americans catch up with the rest of the world. Jonagold is an aromatic apple, sweet with a hint of tartness. It is very juicy, with a crisp, clean crunch reminiscent of Honeycrisp.

Jonagold’s color is variable, but at its best it is a stunning combination of its parents, the rich, red Jonathan, and Golden Delicious. Its flesh is light yellow. A good all-purpose apple, Jonagold’s exceptional juiciness and flavor make it well-regarded for both fresh and hard cider.

Jonagold was developed at Cornell University’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York, in 1943, and introduced commercially in 1968. Both of Jonagold’s parents have been prolific: Jonathan is the parent of more than 70 named offspring, Golden Delicious 25.

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Bishop's Orchard, Guilford, Connecticut (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Bishop’s Orchard, Guilford, Connecticut (Russell Steven Powell photo)

COUNT WINTER SQUASH among the many vegetables that pair well with apples. The apple’s versatility is further featured in a stuffing that can be used with eggplant, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, or zucchini as well as with poultry and seafood.

Both recipes come from Janet M. Christensen’s and Betty Bergman Levin’s Apple Orchard Cookbook, Second Edition (Countryman Press, 2010).

Baked Stuffed Acorn Squash

3 acorn squash

3 Jonagold or other New England apple, unpeeled

3/4 c nut meats (optional)

1/4 c melted butter

1/2 c maple syrup or honey

Cut squash in halves and scoop out seeds. Dice apples and combine with nuts.

Place squash in a baking pan. Divide apple-nut mixture among the six squash halves. Drizzle butter and syrup or honey over each.

Add hot water to 1/2-inch depth. Cover pan loosely with foil. Bake at 400°F for 45 minutes, or until squash is tender.

All-Purpose Apple Stuffing

1 c Italian-flavored breadcrumbs

1 Jonagold or other New England apple, chopped

1 c hot water

2 T olive oil

Mix together breadcrumbs, apple, hot water, and olive oil.

Brush vegetables with 2 T olive oil before stuffing.

Eggplant or zucchini: Halve and scoop out centers, chop the remains and add to stuffing mixture.

Mushrooms: Break off and chop stems, and add to stuffing mixture.

Onions: Halve large onions and remove their centers; set onion shells aside. Chop onion centers and add to stuffing mixture.

Tomatoes: Remove inner part of tomato, chop, and add to stuffing mixture.

Baked stuffed vegetables at 350°F for about 40 minutes. Bake poultry or seafood according to your usual procedure.

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Chapin Orchard, Essex Junction, Vermont (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Chapin Orchard, Essex Junction, Vermont (Russell Steven Powell photo)

THIS WEEKEND is the 18th Annual CiderDays in Franklin County, Massachusetts. The two-day event Saturday, November 3, and Sunday, November 4, draws hard cider-makers and aficionados from around the country.

Many of CiderDays’ events are already sold out, but there is still time to join the festivities.

Visit CiderDays for more information and a schedule.

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America's Apple by Russell Steven PowellAPPLE DRINKS merit an entire chapter in America’s Apple, a new book by Russell Steven Powell with photographs by Bar Lois Weeks.

Several of the makers of fresh, hard, and ice cider from last year’s CiderDays are featured, including Boston’s Harpoon Brewery, makers of a commercial hard cider, and the artisanal Eden Ice Cider of West Charleston, Vermont.

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