friday feast: a special guest post by eat this poem blogger nicole gulotta

Since I’m a big fan of Nicole Gulotta’s uncommonly delicious literary food blog, I was tickled pink when she agreed to do a guest post featuring a children’s poet. Each week at Eat This Poem, Nicole serves up delectable original recipes inspired by poems, each post an elegantly written, thought-provoking blend of insightful analysis, personal anecdotes and gorgeous photography. When I learned Nicole had decided to feature Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s “Apple Pockets,” I asked Amy to tell us a little about the poem:

“Apple Pockets” is actually in [Lee Bennett Hopkins’s] SHARING THE SEASONS, and it’s based on walks we take here on our property. We live on an old farm, and there’s a small grove of wild apple trees bordering the forest. I like imagining the people who lived here before us: what they thought about and who they loved.

I know you’ll enjoy today’s doubly delightful feast featuring one of my fave food bloggers + one of my fave poets!  Guess what I’m having for breakfast this weekend?:)

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♥ Guest Post by Nicole Gulotta ♥

The first time I made these apple muffins, I had just started experimenting with whole grain flours in my baking. Since then, I’ve fallen in love with buckwheat pancakes and whole grain crackers, but it was a batch of muffins that helped me ease into embracing healthier baked goods.

When I read Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s poem “Apple Pockets,” I remembered these muffins. Her poem is deeply reflective, a nice state of mind to be in as a new year begins. The speaker isn’t just walking around with apples in her pockets, but the apples themselves help transport her mind to an orchard where “a hundred years ago they picked these apples.”

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Apple Pockets
by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

This morning I have apples in my pockets.
I feel them round and ready and remember
That every year for years (with apple pockets)
The people walk this orchard in September.

A hundred years ago they picked these apples
Small children skipping on their way to school
Young families coming home from Sunday church
Old lovers holding warm hands in the cool.

And when I walk alone I sometimes see them
With apples in their pockets and their skirts.
And when I’m quiet sometimes I can hear them
With merry laughs and boot-scuffs in the dirt.

I reach up for an apple and I twist it.
I bite into the white and taste September.
This morning I have apples in my pockets.
I feel them round and ready and remember.

~ Copyright © 2010 by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater. First published in Sharing the Seasons: A Book of Poems, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, published Margaret K. McElderry Books. All Rights Reserved.

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I’m sure you can relate to the experience of standing in a place that so many others have before you, either while traveling, visiting a historic landmark, or even thinking about the families that may have lived in your home before you. My favorite phrase in the poem, “I bite into the white and taste September,” articulates how strongly scent and flavor can be tied to our memories. Like the speaker tasting a bright autumn day, I remembered these apple muffins, and how they have sustained me through many car rides and flights across the country, rushed mornings headed to work, or a leisurely weekend afternoon, which is perhaps the best time to enjoy them.

apple muffins 2 (2)

 Apple Crumb Muffins

Adapted from Ellie Krieger

Makes 12-14 muffins

3/4 cup plus two tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggs
1 cup organic applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch pieces

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and line a 12-capacity muffin pan with paper liners.

In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar, the pecans, and cinnamon. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the remaining 3/4 cup brown sugar and oil until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Mix in the applesauce and vanilla.

Add the dry ingredients in two batches, alternating with the buttermilk. Blend until just combined, then gently stir in the apple chunks with a wooden spoon.

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan and sprinkle evenly with the topping. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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nicole bio1Nicole Gulotta is a grantmaker by day and gourmet home cook by night. She received an MFA in creative writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a BA from the University of California, Santa Barbara. In 2011, she founded The Giving Table, a website that helps people change the food system through personal philanthropy. She is based in Los Angeles, where she lives with her husband and French bulldog.

Visit Eat This Poem and sign up for The Right Brains Society newsletter, which features musings on topics like reading, writing, poetry, blogging, living a creative life, how not to hate your day job and other inspiration.

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♥ Poetry Friday regulars may also be interested in seeing Nicole’s post featuring Charles Ghigna’s poem, “Hunting the Cotaco Creek,” which she paired with Butternut-Leek Soup.

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poetryfriday180The always welcoming and lovely Tabatha Yeatts is hosting today’s Roundup at The Opposite of Indifference. Sashay on over to check out the full menu of tantalizing poetic offerings on this week’s menu. Have a good weekend!

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weekend cooking button (2)180This post is also being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts. Put on your best bib and join the tasty fun!

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Copyright © 2013 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

70 thoughts on “friday feast: a special guest post by eat this poem blogger nicole gulotta

  1. What a yummy post, Jama, and I just love meeting Nicole here and learning of her creative, delicious works! Amy’s poem (from one of my favorite books) is a perfect pick. I enjoyed reading a bit of the story behind it here.

    “With merry laughs and boot-scuffs in the dirt”
    – I can see and hear those former families enjoying the orchard.

    (Please pass one of those scrumptious muffins – thanks.)

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    1. Isn’t Nicole’s blog great? I always feel so nourished there, body and soul. I had suggested that she feature a children’s poet, and was pleasantly surprised when she chose Amy’s apple poem, which is actually a poem for all ages. A perfect choice!

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    1. I’m looking forward to making the muffins and reading your poem aloud while eating them!! Thanks so much for letting us post your poem here, Amy:).

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  2. Love this! And this brought back a special apple memory of my own. When Bob and I were in Tuscany celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary, we took many long walks through the country side. One walk brought us past crab apple trees. At the time, I wasn’t feeling great and hadn’t eaten in a while but was starving on our walk. Bob picked a couple of the tiny apples, hoping the owners wouldn’t mind and handed me one. One had a worm hole and I handed it back to him with a face. Rather than toss it, he took a bite where the worm would be, spit it out, and handing it back to me. My hero!:) It was very tart, making my mouth pucker, but it was very good! Thanks for sparking this special memory.

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    1. Wow, thanks for sharing that wonderful memory, Debbi. Didn’t realize you and Bob went to Tuscany for your 10th anniversary. I’m so jealous :)! What a gentleman he was to bite away that wormy part. He’s definitely a keeper . . .:)

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  3. Thanks for the love in this, Jama, for Nicole’s interesting website & all things good about food, & for Amy’s poetry, here such a nostalgic story about a walk & an orchard. Nicole’s favorite line is mine as well: ‘I bite into the white and taste September.’ There is an ancient Native American site in New Mexico we visited once, & noticed a small orchard as we hiked. We were told that it was planted long ago by the first park ranger’s family in the early 1900’s, who wanted to bring a bit of home to that desert country. As we watched, a bear came ambling toward it, came up to the tree & grabbed an apple-great memory! Thanks for all.

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    1. What a great memory, Linda! Biting into one of those apples is biting into history. I loved hearing about the bear — he knew a good thing when he saw it, and how lucky you were there to witness that moment.

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  4. Love the memories the poem brings back, and the recipe sounds like the apple muffins I just made two days ago! Thanks for sharing – I’d not heard of Nicole’s blog, but just checked it out and love it. Wish I could subscribe – but her ‘subscribe’ button doesn’t seem to be accepting email addresses. Thanks for sharing, Jama!

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    1. Hmmm, wonder why the subscribe button isn’t working? I love following her blog and receiving her newsletters. She has excellent taste in poetry:).

      You made apple muffins and didn’t give us any? This is *almost* as bad as those pizzas you didn’t share.😀

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  5. Hi, Jama. I grew up around the corner from an apple orchard. Amy’s poem reminded me of summer days when we were allowed to wander the neighborhood, which often meant playing among the apple trees. I share your favorite line — the taste of September in the crunch and zing of an apple.

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  6. Love this poem—a reflection of my own experiences.

    Thanks Jama for a real day-brightener.

    Lois Bartholomew

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  7. What a beautifully flowing poem. I’m right there in the orchard beside you! And I just LOVE the idea of a yummy treat based on a poem. Heading over to EAT THIS POEM now.

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  8. What a great blog idea — I’ll have to go visit her blog. I haven’t made apple muffins in years — you inspired me to make apple muffins this weekend.

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    1. We all have favorite foods that have been touched by the magic of childhood. I like picturing you in that orchard of long ago, Kathleen:).

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  9. Great pairing of poem and recipe today! What a lovely poem by Amy. It took me back to Anne of Green Gables for some reason. (I might just have to take a break to bite into a little September myself!)

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  10. Oh I too love that line from the poem about tasting September. Remember in Little Women when Jo eats apples while writing?

    I’ll have to give these muffins a try.

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  11. A lovely poem and guest post. I just made an apple cake this week and brought it into work, so I think tomorrow I’ll make these apple muffins and keep them at home!

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  12. “I bite into the white and taste September.”

    That *is* a great line. She’s right. The whole poem makes me want to break into song.

    I was telling Blaine the other day that we need to stop buying terribly unhealthy packaged cookies for the girls’ lunches. We decided to bake our own treats every weekend. I’d like to start with these muffins. Now, I don’t know if the girls will like them (they’re terribly picky eaters, and one of them, in particular, might turn her nose up to anything apple-related), but that just means they’ll be more for me. Mwahahahaha.

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  13. What a beautiful poem. Apples, for me, always have a sense of history about them. The muffins sound delicious!

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  14. this makes me think back to when I was in grades 7 & 8. I had a long walk to school and would do anything to entertain myself. At one point I noticed in many places, pear trees grew along the road. Much of the city had been farm land at one point and the trees hadn’t been removed along the side of t road. The autumn was wonderful for gathering pears. I’d pick a bag on the way home and then make a pot of pear sauce (just like apple sauce) and eat most of it before dinner. What a wonderful treat.

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    1. Thanks for sharing that wonderful memory, Heather. I’ve never had pear sauce, and I do love pears! I also like dried pears, more than dried apricots.

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    1. Didn’t know you grew up on an apple orchard! Nice to hear that quite a few commenters have really fond memories of orchards so the poem really resonates with them.:)

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  15. Amy’s apple poem is positively gorgeous – I am currently reading Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine and the poem reminded me of the book with its taste of summer, apple picking, and the bulging vision of apples in one’s pockets – so lovely. And look at those apple crumb muffins – how decadent! I can taste the crumbs in my mouth. Thanks for introducing us to Nicole as well.:)

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    1. I agree that Amy’s poem is gorgeous and so evocative of happy summer and fall days. Nicole has tempted us all with her apple crumb muffins:).

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