Monday, October 14, 2013

the novel bakers present~

the apple orchard ****.*~

back in august, while living at the beach, i decided i wanted to attend the gravenstein apple fair. all my life i have driven by the gravenstein orchards in sebastopol, year after year, seeing the signs for the annual apple fair, this was the year to make it happen, after all i attended the lavender festival for the novel bakers, why not be brave and try something new again.

at the same time, i was driving back and forth through town to get my 4 feral cats spayed and neutered every week, i would look at the lush red and gold striped apples just dripping off the trees... they were calling to me. i wanted to play in those orchards, much to my husbands horror! on the way to the festival i told my husband i want to stop at that farmhouse and ask if i can do a tablescape in the trees. he screamed you are not asking, but of course i got my way...

he parked the car far away from the house, i had to walk though the sandy loam under the loaded trees, apples tumbling to the dirt as i passed. as luck would have it there was a tractor there loaded with apples in a huge bin, they were selling right from the orchards there, i asked if they were going to the fair, she said no, you will pay twice as much there for them. i asked if these were her trees, she told me no, she lived across the street, these were her neighbors. i told her my request, she said she would call and ask him, i needed to check back that day with her.

as the day wore on i was excited to get back to those trees, to have my moment enjoying the heavy scent in the air, the brilliant colors surrounding me. i love orchards, one of my favorite pastimes is seeing mass plantings of things i love, row after row... on the way back from the fair we stopped and i bought 40 pounds of apples from the girl. to make a long story a wee bit shorter, i was not getting an answer, time dragged on, days flew by, i had told my husband to bring some things from home so i could use them in the orchard, he said you haven't been told yes yet, its not going to happen... finally, many days later, i get a call saying i can come, which was perfect, we had to take the kitties the next day at 6:30 am, i would come for breakfast~

ok, the setting is all perfect, i have 40 pounds of apples to eat, i have orchard pics, i have some freshly made props, and i have about 25 recipes i want to make with my fresh bounty, all i need is a book to tie this all in... enter the apple orchard :-) oh, and while i am at, why not see if the novel bakers would like to play with me too, ta*da, APPLE WEEK IS BORN!

ok, so i selected this book on name and purpose alone, BUT it was in my kindle wish list at amazon, when i looked at the first page and read...

"apples are iconic and convey so much- home, comfort, wholesomeness, health, wisdom, beauty, simplicity, seduction...and sin. the gravenstein apple comes from grasten in south jutand denmmark.

the fruit ranges in color from yellow green to crimson and has a tart flavor, perfect for cooking and making apple apple cider. this is an ephemeral variety that doesn't keep well so it should be enjoyed fresh from the orchard."

i knew right then i was going to love this book, and i did! set in my own backyard in sonoma county it is rich with the california landscape i love and know well, the rolling vineyards, apple orchards, warm hot days, tinged with the cool san francisco fog. to make the book even more enjoyable, it is laced with recipes, how could i not enjoy all this wrapped into one nice little package!

i loved this book for the visuals, i swear i could have written this, it was IDENTICAL to my morning in the orchard...

"the air smelled of apples, and the orchard hummed with the sounds of bees hovering over the bushels of harvested fruits. the trees were in prime condition, waiting for the workers to arrive. the branches had been pruned in readiness for the ladders, the roads graded smooth so the fruit won't jostle in transport. the morning was cool with a mist hanging among the branches. the sun ripe on the eastern horizon of the rolling hills, offered the promise of warmth later in the day."

"there, his head above the branches, he inhaled the glory of the morning-the redolence on the air, the quality of the light filtering through the mist, the contours of the land and the distant haze of the ocean."

ok, i am a sucker for an apple orchard by the sea story, but the book is more, it is about family and fortunes, both old and new. to be honest i didn't expect to like it this much, it was a fluffy read to tie into my desire to play with apples, but i loved the visuals and soon i was hooked on the story when it took a more serious turn then i expected. all in all it was a good read and i had a fabulous time playing with the 40 pounds of apples i purchased! if you are looking for a tasty autumn read with an embracing story i hope you seek this book out, i never like to talk about story lines, its easy to read a synopsis from amazon, i love to read a book cold and take the journey fresh.

the book is dotted with recipes through out, from apple danish pie with caramel apple topping, to apple chutney and jule cake. not all recipes are with apples, there was grape and rosemary focaccia, two kettle pie and baked hot chocolate. since i have been dining on baked apples for months, i decided to try something a little different today to start off apple week, being a cool day by the sea, i thought it was a perfect time to try mulligatawny soup~

mulligatawny soup
from the apple orchard

4 T butter
diced fruits and vegetables, incl
bell pepper
1/4 flour
curry powder

garam masala or make your own...
*1 tablespoon ground cumin
*1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
*1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
*1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
*1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
*1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
***Mix cumin, coriander, cardamom, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg in a bowl. Place mix in an airtight container, and store in a cool, dry place.

4 cups chicken stock
1 cup cream or yogurt

my additions~

may thicken with rice, potatoes, garbanzo beans, red or yellow lentils, or put a scoop of rice into each bowl and ladle the soup over top.

instead of yogurt, can be flavored with coconut milk, lime, brown sugar

optional garnishes: cilantro, fresh chiles, toasted coconut, diced apple, plain yogurt, green onions, chopped salted peanuts

perfect with toasted flat bread with hints of olive oil, garlic + freshly minced cilantro slathered about

i kept my soup chunky, added loads of fresh ginger and yogurt, poured over a scoop of cooked rice and topped with cilantro, salted peanuts, fresh cut apples and freshly made coconut.

as a very funny aside i asked my husband to bring coconut home from the store, i was STUNNED when i opened the bag to see a REAL COCONUT! i mean what are the odds of that, in my entire life i have never bought a coconut... i was cracking up and ticked off at the same time, i mean come on... A COCONUT? to his credit he said i assumed you wanted it as a prop... after all our neighborhood has streets like kawaii, maui and kona, perhaps he thought i was a having a luau, EVEN THOUGH HE KNEW IT WAS APPLE WEEK WITH ALL MY BAKING FOR MONTHS!

as his punishment, i said you figure out how to open it, good luck, i doubt we have an axe here. out comes the iphone and in seconds he knew just what to do; look for the 3 dots, find the eyebrows, tap around the circumference. i was SHOCKED! ok, now what, how do we get the meat to taste like the store... 90 minutes later i have sweetened grated and shaved coconut! it did totally crack me up, but it was delicious and i LOVE that fact i have homemade coconut on my mulligatawny soup~

as another aside this is meant to be a hot spicy soup, it turned out to be truly an alarming soup for me! i was cooking in the kitchen when i heard sirens, i mean REALLY REALLY CLOSE, but i knew nothing was there and the location was totally off. i look out the kitchen window and see a small cessna flying low and straight at my house, WITH SIRENS BLARING! it was alarming to say the least, next thing i hear the loud speaker saying this is an emergency test only, i repeat an emergency test only, only a handful of people live near by me, they were all outside staring. the small plane buzzed the beach and circled 3 times giving its warning, i will say it made my heart race, i thought of what it would be like if a tsunami may be coming, or what it must have felt like in a air raid. today was an experience i have never encountered before, i would like to hope that i never have to see one for real!

if you know my blog at all, you know that normally i would do like 5 dishes from the book, and trust me i will, but i have decided to no longer mix and match my content, it was to hard for me to find my own recipes later if they didn't stand alone. so this measly recipe is all you get today, and its not even that applely for a post about an apple orchard!

i bought 40 pounds of apples in august, i have been baking for months, all this week, and for me, the rest of the month of october, the novel bakers will be celebrating apples, be sure and stop by and take a delicious bite out of fall with us all~

home is where the boat is

rattlebridge farm

sidewalk shoes


  1. Your coconut story is really funny, but I bet it tasted better than the pre-made store bought.

  2. Now that Zap is home from the hospital, we're getting back to normal around here, and I can smile again. Your humor lifts my heart. Wish you could see my huge smile. I'm hanging onto your narrative, biting my nails, wondering if the apple lady would allow the photo shoot, then I'm LMAO at the coconut. (I remember how Tom Hanks struggled with them in Cast Away.) Your soup is perfect for autumn, and yet it's not the same old fare (potato/squash/tomato). As for your photos, you've captured the essence of Fall. Your collages give a peek of the bounty and beauty that's coming--I can't wait! Love your crates and remember the story behind them. A fantastic kick off to Apple Week! xxoo

  3. I'm dazzled by the orchard and those apples spilling from the trees! And of course, I have fruit crate envy, what fun the apple fair must have been. I missed ours over Labor Day~

    Your Mulligatawny soup sounds wonderful and perfect for fall. I skimmed over that recipe in the book, you have made it a culinary masterpiece with all your garnishes and additions! I had to laugh at the whole coconut, I've never attempted to open one, isn't technology grand, thank you iPhone :)

    I'm wanting to dig in to those teaser mosaics of apple goodness, I can only imagine what wonderful things you have in store for us! Thank you picking such perfect book for Novel Baking! I look forward to the weeks to come from your 40 lbs of apples :)

  4. I can see why he would think you might be using a whole coconut! How funny. I don't think I've ever worked with a real, live coconut either! Looking forward to a week of apple goodness!

  5. I am so very happy the Novel Bakers are back and am so excited for this week! I am looking forward to making this soup and might even make it tonight. It's a good day for soup here in the northeast as it's a chilly, grey dreary day. Wish I had those leaf bowls to serve it in...just love them!

  6. Oh my goodness...I would have wanted to throw the coconut at the person making the delivery! LOL....I am still cracking up...and then the siren and airplane.. LOL...I am surprised that you were able to get the post up!! I do enjoy Mulligatawny Soup....sounds like a fun day...but not too quiet!!!

  7. Apple goodness here for certain. Love the orchard shots with the apples spilling under the trees. Can't wait to see the picnic you created. This is going to be an applelicious week. '-)

  8. okay, I am exhausted just reading all that! I really don't know where to begin but I had to laugh when I saw the Mulligatawny soup, it was not what I expected! Great way to show the glorious versatility of the apple, the symbol of so many things but always expected to be a pie or sauce! I love it when the Novel Bakers get together, and I will savor the entire week, eating apples of course!

  9. Aw, Gravensteins have a special place in my heart as they were my Dad's favorite. We used to drive up north almost every year to buy apples from the farmers (no fair back then).

    Delightful post, really enjoyed your pics of the apple trees. Thanks for sharing! :-)