I first learned of John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed, from a picture on a label — the label of what, I can’t remember, but I don’t think it was Johnny Appleseed hard cider, which would’ve been kept out of my reach when I was that young. Anyway, there he was, looking kind of silly, with no shoes and a tin pot for a hat. Much later, I learned that in spite of his simple personal style, he was a trained professional orchardist who set up tree nurseries around several states. Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, says that Chapman as a Swedenborgian would’ve had a religious objection to grafting, and therefore the trees he planted must have been wild apple varieties — not much good for eating, but fine for cider.
Though I considered using cider in this week’s recipe — maybe fruit spiked with hard cider? — in the end I decided to use an apple in its original form, and make it into something just as familiar: cookies. These are pure oatmeal cookies, with no flour, which makes them very crumbly at first. If you can wait till the next day to eat them, they hold together better then. You can also double the recipe and bake the dough in an eight by eight inch pan, then cut into squares.
Speaking of cider, you can use either the hard or soft kinds to add apple flavor to many foods, including apples themselves. I’ve seen a couple of vintage sources that suggest cooking apples in cider if they taste bland — as they would after being kept in the cellar all winter. Also, if you’re making your own applesauce, you can try using cider instead of water to give it a more intense taste. Plain water is probably better, though, if you plan to use the applesauce to replace some of the fat in your baking and don’t want the finished product to taste too apple-y.
Editor’s Note: Want a good book on apples to read with the kids while enjoying your cookies? Check out this article for some great selections.
- 1 cup quick cooking oatmeal
- ½ cup butter
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 apple, your choice
- Cream the butter and sugar till light and fluffy.
- Mix in the oatmeal.
- Wash and peel the apple, and shred with a cheese grater.
- Mix shredded apple into cookie dough.
- Drop teaspoonfuls on a greased cookie sheet or Silpat. Flatten slightly.
- Bake at 350℉ for about seven minutes or until edges brown slightly.
- Cool completely before serving.