Friday, September 26, 2008
Happy birthday, Johnny. Not really the hokey character he is sometimes made out to be, John Chapman was an innovator and a man who ran against the grain. A free spirit, he wandered the east coast of the US for most of his 80 plus years, without possessions or pretension. He did ride along the riverways in a hollowed-out log, and he prided himself on living without traditional comforts. The stories you might have heard about him giving out appleseeds and building nurseries are true; what you might not know is that he was quite talented in land acquisition. When he died, he had over 1200 acres to his name.
Why do I like him? Okay, he was bit of a nutter, and that against-the-grain thing appeals to me. As does his idealism. He was someone who made a difference for thousands of people, and he did it without too much fanfare for himself. I remember reading about him in school a bit, but I really was inspired by him by reading Michael Pollan's Botany of Desire, which is one of my favorite books, by one of my favorite writers.
To honor Mr. Appleseed (or Chapman), I baked an apple tart. The apples are Macoun and Honeycrisp, two varieties unknown to Chapman's time, but increasingly popular today. I made my own puff pastry (Thanks again to Jacques Pepin's Celebrations), and I made up my own little pastry cream for the filling using applesauce, flour, sugar, salt, and cream. A bit of cream and sugar glaze on the crust, and voila! Johnny might have thought it too fancy, I'm sure, but we all thought it was pretty festive and delicious...
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Posted by Kirie at 2:01 PM