Wednesday, September 15, 2010


We're quickly approaching that time of year when we make our annual family trip to the apple orchard!  And boy, we can hardly wait!  We come back with bushels of apples to share with family and to hoard for ourselves while we're baking apple crisp, apple pie, apple muffins, and making ham apple sandwiches.  It's taken me many tries and many years, but I've finally found a good apple pie recipe.  I've also tweaked my very own apple crisp recipe, which the kids and I make several times a month during the fall.  My mother-in-law, Nancy, makes an incredible apple spice cake that my husband, especially, adores.  I have tried many a time to replicate that cake, but I've finally given up all disappointing attempts.  Last year, my mom tried a new recipe for apple bread that had a praline topping.  Yep, it was another winner.  But Kathy . . . Kathy made the ultimate apple dessert.  Let me set the stage: she invited us to her home outside of Asheville.  It's perched on a mountain, so as you're sitting on her porch, you're looking into these beautiful hardwood trees.  Did I mention the mountain stream winding it's way below?  As we're enjoying the scenery, Kathy pulls an amazing apple tart out of the oven.  I'm here to tell that this tart is a true rustic beauty, cooked to perfection on her baking stone.  But that's not the half of it!  When you pop a bite of that tart into your mouth . . . well, let's just say it's a little taste of heaven on earth!  But the best part is that she gave me her recipe.  Now we can enjoy that calorie stuffed apple goodness whenever we want!

Okay, so now that I'm salivating and wishing for a pastry, what does all this have to do with children's books?  Well, around here, we get ready for apple season before it even starts!

The kids' two favorite apple books are Apples and Pumpkins by Anne Rockwell and Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington.  Quite honestly, I'm not exactly sure why these are such a hit.  Both books feature simple text and illustrations.  However, the kids request these two over and over and over again.  And we read them over and over and over again, right on up until Christmas.

I suggest picking up Apples and Pumpkins before you visit the apple orchard.  It sets the stage by chronicling a typical visit.  The type is large and easy to read, while the font mimics handwritten print, making this an excellent choice for those budding readers in your home who are ready to "spy" words.

One nice thing about Apple Farmer Annie, other than the name Annie, is that it's also available in a Spanish edition: Ana Cultiva Manzanas.  Wellington packs each illustration, making this a good book to count and "spy" items.  And here's where the baking comes in: the last two pages include recipes for applesauce, apple muffins, and applesauce cake.

Please note: we will be checking out more books on apples, pumpkins, and autumn in the coming months.  If you have any favorites, please share with us!

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