Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Autumn Delights

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Good morning from Marshfield, Vermont where the geese fly high overhead today on clear skies after two days of rain. It's 43 degrees and the sun is halfway up the valley, lending promise of a fine day.

Karl the wonder dog and I have just returned from a morning walk. He's not that pleased with me as he wanted to stay in the lower hosta garden and smell the signs of last night's deer convention. Few of the +450 hostas remain untouched and most show deer nibbling that took them from glorious specimens to four inch, leafless scapes.

Some people worry about what to do with hosta plants in the fall. They want to cut them down but fear that will possibly spread unseen hosta virus. The deer seem to go a plant at a time until only plants such as H. 'City Lights' or H. 'Daybreak' remain, weakened by multiple frosts but unnibbled by the deer. I wish someone would evaluate what it is in certain hostas the fends off deer as most are on their nightly menu.

I'm here with Alex today as Gail is in South Burlington at an autism conference. It's a really special event and will discussTEACCH: Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication-handicapped Children. While Gail is away, Alex and I will get some shopping done in St Johnsbury and then visit Stephen Huneck's Dog Chapel. If you aren't familiar with the chapel or Huneck's work you should visit too. The amazing story behind the chapel is enough by itself but his work is so special that once you see it, you'll remember him every time a dog passes you on the street.

Since today is a catch-up day, I want to offer that long overdue recipe for German Apple Cake. This is a recipe originally passed down from my great grandmother Engelke but frankly I don't know the real origin. It's tasty any time of year but when apples are freshly harvested, I'm reminded to get out the mixing bowls. In this case, a gift of apples preceded the mixing bowls.

A couple weeks back, Leila and Harold Cross stopped by for dinner. The brought along some freshly pressed cider and a bag of Beacon apples (their picture above). The cider was the best we had ever had. We are big cider drinkers and know what we like. This was not pasturized like you buy in the store and it had a sweet flavor that was just perfect. As for the apples themselves, we hadn't even heard of them before. I was thinking German Apple Cake and Gail was thinking apple pie.

Here's the recipe for the cake which is made in a 9" pan or dish. You might think there's not enough batter but as you'll see, the apples make up the difference. This recipe is copied from the back pages of a 1946 version of Irma Rombauer's The Joy of Cooking. That's where my Mom used to write special recipes that had been passed along to her.


4 medium apples, quartered, cored, sliced
1/4 c. white sugar
1/4 c. shortening
1 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 c. milk
1 whole egg

Cream the shortening. Add sugar, egg and mix. Add dry ingredients, alternating with milk. Mix.

Spread batter in 9" pan. Press apple slices on top in rows.

Spread a mixture of 1/2 c. white sugar, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon on top.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Then cook 5 minutes more with a cover on.

My mother always used Crisco but I use butter. The cooking time might be off a little based on your oven. You can use a piece of foil for the cover. There is a problem with this recipe. It doesn't make enough and once you try it, you might be late for a second piece. I've made this recipe with a number of different apples and have to say that the new found Beacons have a very nice flavor. My Mom spent what seemed like days placing every apple slice in perfect rows. That's how she did everything she cooked. Perfect or not at all.

From the mountain above Peacham Pond where maple leaves drop one by one from the trees, still heavy from last night's dew, and chickadees man the platform feeder and discuss wind generation and greener living.

Fall gardening wishes,

George Africa


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