Oh, the apples of fall! Pies, sauce, dumplings, cake, Waldorf salad*… or, to keep it simple, an unadulterated apple, all by itself.
Last year at this time, we were in Maine at beautiful Cayford Orchard, outside of Skowhegan, picking Northern Spys under a gorgeous October sky. Four years ago, Facebook recently reminded me, Hubby found Northern Spys in northwestern Pennsylvania and surprised me a week or two later with a generous shipment that lasted right through the winter.
This year, I’ve been fretting about Northern Spy deprivation. I even emailed the folks at Cayford to see if they would ship some to me. They were gracious but not anxious; if shipping isn’t your normal routine, it’s a lot of bother just to satisfy one frustrated Pennsylvania pie-baker. While I would have spared almost no expense to have my favorite pie apples in time for Thanksgiving, I agreed and gave up.
Try, now, to imagine my delight when, while wandering yesterday through a local farm market—one that is not my usual haunt— I saw this:
“Where are these from?” I called out to the woman at the register. “They’re from a local orchard,” she said. “But they’re not supposed to grow this far south,” I replied. She smiled and shrugged. They were big and healthy looking. We loaded up. I’ll be baking pies very soon.
Truthfully, while I personally prefer apples from New York State and points north, Pennsylvania does grow some pretty great ones. Our friends had just brought us a bag of eating apples from Hollabaugh’s in Biglerville, PA, near Gettysburg—every one a crunchy, delicious treat. Miss Pup particularly enjoys her visits there, too, as you can see in this priceless photo with one of her two Aunt Sues:
* Just in case you’re too young to remember, or Waldorf Salad is outside your experience, here is the recipe that I favor, from my much loved, highly tattered copy of The Joy of Cooking, 1967 printing:
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced apples
(1 cup Tokay grapes, halved and seeded)
1/2 cup walnut or pecan meats
3/4 cup mayonnaise or Boiled Salad Dressing
The parentheses indicate an optional ingredient. I add them if I have them on hand. I use mayo rather than take the time to make a boiled dressing, and I add about 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla. You can add diced or shredded cooked chicken, too, and serve in a cream puff shell for an authentic “vintage” presentation.