Lischer-Goodband: Warm Comfort

Print More

(Host)  At
this cold time of the year, commentator Diana Lischer-Goodband has been thinking about how
to warm up the season and romance an apple farmer.   In her Dummerston farm kitchen, she’s found that there’s warm comfort in apple

(Lischer-Goodband)  It’s December
in Vermont with a multitude of international holidays to celebrate – Christmas,
Hanukah, Kwanzaa, and Ashura.  At my farm
we like to observe the winter solstice, after the leaves have dropped like
letters to old friends, and given way to snowflakes, which fall like sparkling
confetti from the heavens.  Distant
vistas have opened up for visitors and residents alike.  The old mill is visible again as well as the
beautiful trail that runs across my neighbor’s land. 

Although most people agree that the holidays are a hectic
time, my family is finding some down time in the whirlwind.  My husband is one of the top apple farmers in
America.  And now that he’s finished the
fall apple harvest and sold the last apple in cold storage, he has weekends
available for splitting wood and reading by the woodstove.    For three months he works seven days a week
to harvest more than 80 varieties of heirloom apples, and I become an apple
harvest widow.  Now that the apples have
all been sold to a myriad of coops, chefs and apple lovers of every age, he
prunes ten thousand trees by day, and in the evening  reverts to being a bookworm consuming book
after book, savoring his time indoors. 
So I devise various strategies to get his attention – to lure him away
from that great Swedish novel he has his nose in.

And by far, my most successful secret weapon is Apple
Pie.  After years of listening about all
the different kinds of apples my husband grows – from tart baking to crisp
eating apples – I’ve learned what antique varieties taste best to a hungry
apple farmer whether baked in an open tart or double-crusted pie.   Over the years, he’s encouraged me to
experiment and lets me know which combinations of tasty apples work best for
his discerning apple palate.

Apples originated in Kazakhstan near Mongolia, where the
trees have the ability to survive cold landscapes like ours in Vermont.  But they also have a way of bringing warm
comfort to the flaky structure of homemade pie.   I inherited my mother’s Pennsylvania Dutch
cooking skills and with my husband’s heirloom apple guidance, I’ve learned how
to concoct heart-winning pies using ruby, gold and coppery apples from around
the world.

And just in time for the holidays, here are just a few tips
for enhancing the power of your apple pies: First,
in any apple pie recipe, I cut the sugar in half, so I can taste the naturally sweet-tartness
of the antique varieties for a full-flavor experience.  I
always cut the apples in thick slices to keep the apple slices firm.  I
also avoid spices like cinnamon and cloves, since they detract from the
delicate flavor and fragrance of the antique baking varieties such as Calville
Blanc d’Hiver and Belle de Boscop, which are preferred by European chefs.

Oh, and I always leave a piece of pie on the mantle for

Comments are closed.