18 January 2012

The Orchard - A Memoir and Apple Turnovers

Today's post is about a good read and a classic pastry treat ... 

When Adele "Kitty" Robertson passed away in 1979, she left behind a bereaved family and a saddened community. Here had been a woman who'd lived through the hardest of times in Ipswich, Massachusetts during the Great Depression, working hard to keep the family home from bank foreclosure and to tend a beloved orchard of apple and peach trees. Her determination and dignity did not go unseen by the locals and her continued service to the community over the years earned her the respect and admiration of many of the starched Yankee citizens.

Her daughter, Betsy Robertson Cramer found, among her mother's papers a memoir of those years. Reading it some time after her mother's passing, she knew she had a poignant tale of survival during tough economic times - a tale worth publishing. And so, she presented the memoir to Metropolitan Books and this short account of one woman's attempt to hold onto the family farm joined the stacks of other published memoirs.

If you can read this story without having your heart swell a bit or a few tears come to your eye, then I fear you may be  heartless. It is so reminiscent of what many are going through today in various parts of our country ... it's always the same when one is jobless, deep in debt, and under siege by a bank and creditors. Now, like then ... life is hard, but it can be lived out with hope and determination and dignity. This is a worthy read, folks.

Keeping with the theme and wanting a bit of something sweet, I am making apple turnovers today. I have a few Cortlands and a couple GrannySmiths that will be just fine cooked up in a slightly sweet cider sauce and put into puff pastry turnovers.  I like turnovers because you can make just a few of them; no more sitting around to tempt you. I'll make eight ... perfect for Silent Bob and I to have some and also for me to take to a committee meeting that I must attend this evening.

Apple Turnovers

Makes: 8 turnovers
Bake time: 18 - 20 minutes in a 400°F oven


3 large baking apples, peeled and cored, and chopped into small half-inch cubes
2 tbsp. corn starch
1 tsp. lemon juice
⅓ c. sugar
¼ tsp. cinnamon
⅛ tsp. nutmeg
⅛ tsp. cardamom
1 tsp. lemon zest
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
about ¼ c. apple cider or apple juice

1 package puff pastry ( two sheets that are 9 x 9 inches)
1 large egg beaten with 1 tsp. water - for glazing the tops of the turnovers

Making the Turnovers:

1. Place the butter in a large fry pan and gently melt it - I let it gently brown - turn the heat off and set it aside in the pan.

2. Prepare the apples and place them in a deep bowl. Toss them with the lemon juice.

3. Add the sugar, spices, cornstarch, and lemon zest to the apples and toss to combine. Let the apples sit for a few minutes to macerate.

4. Add them to the melted butter and bring the heat up under the pan just long enough to create a thick syrup. As the juices begin to thicken, add the cider in small amounts until there is a thick goopy sauce that coats the firm apples.

5. Remove from the heat immediately and let the mixture cool.

6. Working with one puff pastry sheet, roll the puff pastry out into a 12 x 12 inch square. Cut the square into perfect quarters.

7. Brush two edges of each square with water, put ¼ c. cooled apple filling into the center of each square and fold the dry edges over to meet the wet edges, pinch the edges to seal, making 4 triangular turnovers.

8. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and gently transfer the turnovers to the paper-lined cookie sheet.

9. Use a fork to crimp the edges firmly closed, poke a fork through the tops of each turnover to allow steam to escape and chill the turnovers while you roll out the second puff pastry sheet and repeat the process.

10. Chill the turnovers for at least 15 minutes.

11. While the turnovers are chilling, pre-heat the oven to 400°F oven. Just before popping the turnovers in the oven to bake, brush them with egg glaze. Bake for 18 - 20 minutes. Don't overbake or the filling will bubble out from between the edges ... the pastry is delicate and can only take so much steam build-up. Just sayin'.

What are you reading these days?


  1. The books sounds just wonderful - we have family run orchards in these parts that have been around since the 1880's. I love supporting them. And those delectable turnovers? Picture-perfect!

  2. These turnovers sound so good and are so beautiful!! I'll give it a go

  3. Oh Susan, they sure look delicious. The best thing about turnovers are the flaky crust. There is no hiding that you ate a turnover, the crumbs are usually all over the place.

  4. She sounds like an amazing woman and one we should get to know. As for the turnovers it will be fun to try the recipe.

  5. What a great recipe and your photos are Picture Perfect. It seems I don't read books except recipe books very much anymore. I used to be an avid reader, I seem to spend my free time reading my fellow bloggers. Always enjoy coming to visit you.


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