halloween treats!

  j0309570.jpg image by jamesmargaret3rd HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Yeah, I know. Today is supposed to be about pumpkins. But this is the last day of Apple Month, and some haven’t been eaten. So how about a mixed basket of apple-y treats: a little folklore, a few facts, a poem, a couple of myths? Nibble as you please. And what are those bite marks on your neck?

apple.jpg apple peel image by LFG111   Irish folklore claims that if an apple is peeled into one continuous ribbon and thrown behind a woman’s shoulder, it will land in the shape of her future husband’s initials.

largesingleapple.gif picture by jamesmargaret3rdThe world’s largest apple peel was created by Kathy Wafler Madison on October 16, 1976, in Rochester, NY. It was 172 feet, 4 inches long. (She was 16 years old at the time and grew up to be a sales manager for an apple tree nursery.)

poetry-1.gif picture by jamesmargaret3rd Here’s a lovely poem, "Words as Wild Apples," by Timothy Walsh. Be sure to read both pages (18-19).

j0321070.jpg picture by jamesmargaret3rd Aah, What’s up Doc? Apples contain Vitamin C to boost the immune system, phenols to lower cholesterol, phytonutrients to prevent brain disease, flavinoids to prevent heart disease, is low in calories, and its juice can kill up to 80% of bacteria in the mouth! Apples also target multiple cancers and promote healthier lung function. So munch munch munch, to keep both the doctor and the dentist away!

redcrabapple.jpg picture by jamesmargaret3rdThe crabapple is the only apple native to North America. Apples are grown in all 50 states, but only grown commercially in 36 states. Washington is the no.1 apple producer in the U.S. China is the world’s largest producer.

apple_grannysmith.jpg picture by jamesmargaret3rdDanish folklore says that apples wither around adulterers (come here, my pretty)!

candy7.jpg image by jamesmargaret3rdThe term "Big Apple" was coined by touring jazz musicians of the 1930s who used the slang expression "apple" for any town or city. To play NYC is to play the big time.

schoolsupplies.jpg picture by jamesmargaret3rd  In the U.S., Denmark, and Sweden, a polished apple is a traditional gift for a teacher. This stemmed from the fact that teachers during the 16th to 18th centuries were poorly paid, so parents would compensate the teacher by providing food. Teachers would often be given baskets of apples from students, since apples were a very common crop.

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an apple by any other name . . .

 khsf.jpg apples image by shutupfaggott So, let’s say you’re at a social gathering and you want to impress someone.

Or, maybe you’re in final Jeopardy, and if you can say "apple" in Turkish, you win $1.5 million.

Or better still, your agent sells the foreign rights to your novel, and fans all over the world are clamoring to meet you on your book tour.

You just never know. 

A good writer is always prepared.

A good writer knows how to speak apple. 

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friday feast: the apple, by james crowden

Where were you this past Sunday, October 21st? 

Were you, by any chance, in England?

If so, then you were there to celebrate APPLE DAY

Yes, that’s right!  For the past 17 years, the entire country goes apple mad on this day in October. And we’re not talking about a few apple festivals, orchard tours, or farm stands selling fruit.  We’re talking about apple doctors who offer horticultural advice, or help you identify a mystery apple growing on your property. There’s apple bobbing, pruning and grafting classes, apple and spoon races, roadshows, storytelling, archery, and on and on.  Apple cakes, puddings, pies, chutney, and cider are everywhere. They even serve apple food and drink in the Houses of Parliament!

And it’s not just a couple of food aficionados or nature lovers or fanatic apple heads. Everyone is involved:  “schools, Women’s Institutes, historic properties, museums, juice producers, apple growers, cider makers, farmers, nurserymen, restaurants, wild life trust, supermarkets, arts centres, agricultural and art colleges, garden societies, and parish councils.”

Yes, the British really know how to do it up BIG.

AND, (wait for it)  . . . they even have an APPLE POET LAUREATE!!

In 1999, this particular honor was bestowed upon James Crowden, a resident of Somerset, who writes both poetry and prose. Lest you think he was chosen because he munched on a few apples and could pen a pretty phrase, think again. This is a man who deeply cares about the environment, who is fascinated by “the interface between literature and anthropology, looking at specific geographical areas and groups of people through their work.” 

He’s done sheep farming, sheep shearing, fish farming, and peat cutting in the Outer Hebrides, as well as boating on the Bristol Docks. When he moved to North Dorset he became a forester and kept his first flock of sheep, witnessing firsthand farming methods that hadn’t changed since before the war. So he turned to poetry to document this vanishing way of life. When he moved to Somerset, he started making cider, and eventually wrote a comprehensive history of “the most fascinating of drinks,” called CIDER: THE FORGOTTEN MIRACLE.

These days, he takes children and adults on outdoor Walks, where they are encouraged to write down their sensory impressions, convert their notes into poems, and then perform them for the group. He calls his workshops “Walking with Words: Exploring Language and Landscape.” His philosophy is to make people more aware of their surroundings and to “get them to look at their environment through fresh eyes.”

So, as Apple Month draws to a close, please peruse this pomological poem by England’s Apple Poet Laureate:


by James Crowden (1999)


The apple is a saucey little item,
Daughter of blossom, sits neatly in the palm,
Exquisite in its pert roundness
And asking to be admired and handled.

Look for instance at the much forgotten stalk
The secret timing of its fall from grace
The gravity of the situation, the earthly grasp
Or else the apple of your eye cradled in the sun.

Plucked in perfection from the tree of life,
The rosie skin that takes a shine,
Protects the inner flesh, firm and crisp and even,
till young mouths are brought into play.

Read the rest of the poem here.

Full Poetry Friday Roundup at Literary Safari.

***And don’t forget, today is the last day to enter my APPLE FOR THE TEACHER CONTEST! Mention your favorite teacher in a comment for a chance to win MISS SPITFIRE by Sarah Miller and the APPLE COOKBOOK by Olwen Woodier.


friday feast: apples by laurie lee


Just for you, I picked this apple poem out of the barrel. The poet, Laurie Lee, grew up in the village of Slad, in Gloucestershire, England. That’s Cotswold country. (Sigh.) Yes, there is always a lot of sighing whenever I talk about England. 

I lived there for three years, and it wasn’t enough. I’d go back any day. The Cotswolds, with its honey colored stone cottages, thatched roofs, and gently rolling green hills, is as idyllic and “typically English” as any place could be. Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, and Jane Austen lived in Bath, the setting of several of her novels.

Laurie Lee’s first love was poetry, but he is better known for the first volume of his autobiographical trilogy, CIDER WITH ROSIE (1959), where he recounts his childhood in an innocent and much simpler time:

“‘It’s cider,’ she said. ‘You ain’t to drink it though. Not much of it, any rate.’ Huge and squat, the jar lay on the grass like an unexploded bomb. We lifted it up, unscrewed the stopper, and smelt the whiff of fermented apples. I held the jar to my mouth and rolled my eyes sideways, like a beast at a water-hole. ‘Go on,’ said Rosie. I took a deep breath . . .Never to be forgotten, that first long secret drink of golden fire, juice of those valleys and of that time, wine of wild orchards, of russet summer, of plump red apples, and Rosie’s burning cheeks. Never to be forgotten, or ever tasted again . . .”

Rosie the temptress, like Eve with the forbidden fruit?

In “Apples,” Lee, supposedly a very gentle and kind man, examines the cycles of nature and its beautiful efficiency, with the apple as a world within a world. A thing of wonder and beauty; hold it in your hand, turn it over, taste the sumptuous images in the poem.


by Laurie Lee

photo of my great-nephew, Harri, taken by his dad, Ian Dodge

Behold the apples’ rounded worlds:
juice-green of July rain,
the black polestar of flowers, the rind
mapped with its crimson stain.

The russet, crab and cottage red
burn to the sun’s hot brass,
then drop like sweat from every branch
and bubble in the grass.

Read the rest of the poem here.

Today’s Poetry Friday Roundup is at Kelly Fineman’s blog.

eat ’em and weep

applepiealamode.jpg picture by jamesmargaret3rd

Okay, folks, I know I teased you with the world’s largest apple pie the other day, and left you salivating.

Though the recipe sounded interesting, it wasn’t something you could actually make.

So, here’s my favorite apple pie recipe. It has a streusel topping; I guess some people would call it a dutch apple pie. I like it because you don’t have to roll out 2 crusts, and sometimes having a top crust is just too much crust (and trans fats). For those of you who suffer from FOPC (fear of pie crusts), you can cheat and buy a ready-made one. I recommend the whole wheat crust that comes frozen from Whole Foods Market. It has zero trans fats, and most people can’t tell it wasn’t homemade.

(makes one 9" pie)


1 1/2 c sifted flour
1/2 c Crisco
1/2 tsp salt
about 3 T iced water

1. Combine flour and salt. Cut in the Crisco with a pastry blender until the mixture is crumbly.
2. Gradually add the iced water, tablespoon by tablespoon, mixing in lightly with a fork. (If it’s a humid day, you may need less water.) 
3. Form the dough into a ball. 
4. Let the dough rest for about 10 minutes.
5. Then roll out the dough between two sheets of waxed paper. (Much easier than flouring a board or counter.)
6. Lay the dough into an 8 or 9" glass pie dish; crimp the edges.


2 lb green apples (6 cups)
3 T lemon juice
1/2 c sugar (use more or less depending on sweetness of apples)
2 T flour
1 tsp grated lemon peel


1/2 c sugar
1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon (i always use more)
1/4 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp mace
1/4 c butter

1. Combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, ginger, and mace. Mix well.
2. Cut in butter with fork until mixture is crumbly.
3. Distribute over apple filling and bake in 375 degree oven for 55-60 minutes.

The Ala Mode:
ww-1.jpg picture by jamesmargaret3rd

To top everything off, two tasty picture books to read with your pie:

The Apple Pie That Papa Baked(
Apple Pie that Papa Baked by Lauren Thompson
(Simon and Schuster, 2007)

(Good review of Apple Pie that Papa Baked at 7-Imp recently!)

51M5H4CP2GL_SS400_1.jpg picture by jamesmargaret3rd
How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman
(Dragonfly Books, 1996)