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SEE INSIDE
Voices Fall-Winter, 2001:
Click on the cover for the Table of Contents. Read the Foodways column, “Apple Tasting: East DeKalb” by Lynn Case Ekfelt here.
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Volume 27
Fall-Winter
2001
Voices

Apple Tasting: East DeKalb by Lynn Case Ekfelt

Floors scarred by years of feet encased in "Sunday-go-to-meeting" shoes, walls revealing strips of lath where plaster has fallen away, the Meeting House of the Methodist-Episcopal Society at Dewey’s Corners looks every one of its hundred fifty-nine years. It’s easy to see that this shell is no longer home to a living congregation, though patches of new wood hold promise of an impending rebirth as the home for a historical society. On this glorious fall day, though, the building’s ghosts have plenty of company. Outside, Brian Thompson hand-presses cider for eager crowds of children and wasps. Inside, we are torn between the blandishments of a small side table of apple-based baked goods and those of the huge U-shaped set of tables in the center of the room presenting their apples unadorned.

We opt to start with the basics and pick up our tasting sheets and pencils. The North Country Garden School is holding an apple tasting—80 different varieties—for those who might hope to restore the North Country to its former status as a prime apple-producing region. When I first came to Canton in 1970, the local groceries offered customers a choice between Delicious, Cortland, or nothing; now I know my way around Granny Smiths, Empires, and even a few exotic Japanese imports. Still, the variety in this room is mind-boggling. Chenango Strawberry, Swiss Gourmet, Westfield Seek No Further, Black Gilliflower, Belle of Boskoop, Colvis Spice, Zabergau Reinette, Kidds Orange Red, and the mysterious NY75413-30—intriguing names entice us to sample slices of them all.

It becomes obvious as we move around the table that I lack the proper vocabulary. I envy the wine connoisseurs their "silky tannins" and "cherry-scented nose." All I seem to be able to manage is "tart," "mushy," and "yuck—tastes like a pear." When we find ourselves spending more time chatting with friends and less concentrating on tasting, Nils and I decide we have arrived at taste-bud overload. We grab a piece of cider pie for "dessert" and hop on our bikes to work off the morning’s excesses. As we ride, I daydream our yard transformed into a springtime bower of apple blossoms.

Foodways
Crow’s Nest

Apple Layer
6-8 tart apples (to fill an 8-inch square pan)
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
Dash nutmeg
Dash cinnamon
1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, if needed


apple
Cobbler
1 cup flour      2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt      1/4 cup soft butter
2 tablespoons sugar      1 cup milk


Lemon Sauce, optional
1 cup water      2 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice
1 cup sugar      Dash salt
2 tablespoons flour      Lump butter the size of an egg
1 teaspoon vanilla      Dash nutmeg


To make the crow’s nest, peel and slice enough apples to fill an 8-inch square pan. Remove the apples to a saucepan. Add the water, sugar and spices. If the apples are not tart, add lemon juice. Cook slowly, stirring frequently, until the apples are very hot and nearly tender. Pour the apples back into the 8-inch square pan.

To make the cobbler dough, combine the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder in a bowl. Cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in the milk.

Spoon the cobbler dough over the apples and smooth the top. Bake at 375 degrees until the biscuit top is done (approximately 30 to 40 minutes).


Serve crow’s nest with whipped sweetened cream or the optional lemony sauce—or both! To make the sauce, cook all the ingredients except the butter in a saucepan, stirring constantly, until they have thickened. Add the butter and pour the sauce over the crow’s nest.apples




 


Reprinted with permission from Good Food Served Right: Traditional Recipes and Food Customs from New York’s North Country, by Lynn Case Ekfelt, Traditional Arts of Upstate New York, 2000. To order a copy of this book, which was the 2000 National Winner of the Tabasco Community Cookbook Award, visit our online bookstore. The cost is $24.95.




Still, the variety in the room is mind-boggling. Chenango Strawberry, Swiss Gourmet, Westfield Seek No Further, Black Gilliflower, Belle of Boskoop, Colvis Spice, Zabergau Reinette, Kidds Orange Red, and the mysterious NY75413-30—intriguing names entice us to sample slices of them all.


This column appeared in Voices Vol. 27, Fall-Winter 2001. Voices is the membership magazine of the New York Folklore Society. To become a subscriber, join the New York Folklore Society today.


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