28. The Walnut Harvest; or Nuts on the ground, Nuts in the house

We are considering changing the name of the cottage to Apple Walnut Cottage. No? Sort of sounds like a diet dessert, doesn’t it?

The nut harvest has been bountiful. In fact, the entire garage bedroom is filled with drying walnuts. Last week we thought we had an amazing amount, and this past weekend the nuts on the ground doubled. We had to go scrounging for more screens — sliding glass door screens do have a use after all!
The amazing fact about these English Walnuts is the husks dry in the trees and the walnuts fall from the husks ready to pick up.

This is what the ground looks like under the tree:

    After doing some online research, I discovered that:
      English walnuts will keep in the shell for several months.

(Good. It will take us that long to shell them.)

      Store in a cool, dry place.

(I’ve always wondered if Everyone but Me has cool, dry places in their house…)

      Shelled nuts can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 6 months and in the freezer for well over a year.

(Seems to me that keeping them in the fridge would make them soggy. I might try the freezer though.)


With all these apples and walnuts, a cake is calling out to me… I was about to make one of Mr. H.C.’s favorites. The recipe was given to his mother by Anna Hincy, one of the cafeteria ladies at East Franklin School, who also did cakes on the side. But after looking at the recipe, I think I’ll pass. I was willing to make it from unbleached white flour; I was willing to use sugar; but I draw the line at Crisco… So I will experiment with this recipe and give you the results later. (It sounds like it might be a Christmas Cake.) In the meantime, here is a snack cake you can eat with no guilt.

Apple Walnut Cake Apple Walnut Cottage Cake


Gather together:

    1 cup honey
    1/2 cup coconut oil
    1 3/4 cup sprouted wheat flour
    1 cup chopped walnuts
    3 cups chopped apples
    1 t. Vanilla
    2 eggs
    1 t. Salt
    1 t. Baking soda
    1 t. Cinnamon
    Nutmeg to taste
    Lemon juice to pour over the apples to keep them from browning.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pour the honey into a medium-sized mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer for ten minutes. I had never done this before, but don’t eliminate this step. It makes the honey thick, light, and creamy.


I peeled most of the apples, but I left one pretty red one unpeeled for color.

While the honey is whisking, chop the apples and walnuts. Squeeze lemon juice over the apples


Just in case you are cracking your own walnuts, this is the tool to use. These Channelocks are fully open and they give the nut-cracker lots of control.

Add the coconut oil and beat until well mixed. Then add the two eggs and the vanilla and mix well.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Add the flour mixture to the honey mixture in two batches and just mix it in by hand with a large spoon. Mix in the nuts and apples by hand also.
Spread into a well-greased 9 x 9 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes before serving.
Some important stuff about this weird recipe:
Coconut oil is the new miracle food. It’s pricey, but I just bought some at Trader Joes for $5.99 a jar. It may be overhyped — it is one of those good fats — but you can read about its health benefits at this website.
Sprouted wheat flour is not gluten-free, but the wheat is sprouted and then the sprouts are ground into this flour-like substance, which does give it much less gluten and makes it more easily digested. You can get it at health food stores, co-ops, and online at Shiloh Farms. (Note: Sprouted wheat flour is not completely gluten-free.)  Of course, you can use regular flour — just increase the amount to two cups.

I could hardly wait to taste this cake so I cut a piece before it was cool. This is one cake that needs to cool a bit — it tasted much better a half hour later.

I adapted this recipe from The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. But I changed it enough that I’m giving it a new name — Apple Walnut Cottage Cake. Yep, a healthy diet dessert.

(Mr. H.C. thought this cake was delicious; but, truth be told, he is dessert-starved these days, and he would probably eat cardboard if it had honey or maple syrup on it.) Not that this cake tastes like cardboard! It is actually better the next day for breakfast. Enjoy!

23. Not Quite Mom’s Baked Apples

I’m not sure why we loved Mom’s baked apples so much. They are a homely dish, not fancy, and easy to make.

It might be that we got to eat a sweet dessert-like food for dinner — she never served them for dessert — we always ate them right along with whatever else we were having. Or it might be that she only made them in fall and early winter when we had fresh apples.

Depending on how long the apples baked, or how juicy the apples were, the recipe was never the same. Sometimes the sauce was thin and sweet, sometimes the sauce was thick and caramel-like; it didn’t matter, we always loved them.

We have four different apple trees at Apple Hill and only one variety has been absolutely identified: the Red Delicious. (They are the two apples on the right in this next photo.)

So in the interest of trying to determine what varieties the others are, I decided to make baked apples using all four kinds of apples. Two of each, knowing that Mom almost always used Red Delicious for hers. They are not a cooking apple, so they hold their shape very well when baked; and also, it’s a good use for them, because who really likes to eat a Red Delicious? There are so many better varieties — beats me why they ever got famous for being a good eating apple!

See the dish of walnuts on the right? Those are from our very own English walnut tree! Talk about being happy campers when we discovered that! We thought the tree was the traditional black walnut with those nuts that you have to drive a car over to get the husks off, as well as staining your hands and fingernails a beautiful, rich dark brown.

It took us about 30 minutes to pick and shell enough walnuts for the baked apples. Technically the nuts are supposed to dry in the shell for about a week, but we couldn’t wait! Maybe the next picking…

The Recipe:

    Mix a stick of softened butter with some oats, some chopped walnuts, and some raisins. (Mom never used raisins; Dad didn’t like them.)
    Pour in some maple syrup. (Mom used brown sugar, and you are welcome to as well, but the maple flavor is yummy.)
    Grease a 9×13 pan with softened butter or coconut oil. (I told you these weren’t Mom’s baked apples.)
    Cut 8 apples in half and core them. (If you ask me, this is the hardest part!)
    Spoon the oat and nut mixture in to the center of the apples and sprinkle cinnamon over all.


    Pour enough water in the dish to just cover the bottom. I added a little more syrup — really just drizzled a bit more over the apples. Cover tightly with foil and bake at 350 for about an hour. (If you would like, you can uncover them for the last ten minutes.)

Serve warm with dinner. Pay attention now: this is not dessert. No ice cream, no whipped cream, no creme fraiche…

The experiment was a success. The greenish yellow apples on our side yard tree have been judged to be a Yellow Transparent — good for cooking and eating (just be sure to peel them).


The other two trees on the wild part of the property seem to be Jonathans (ripe now)


and McIntosh (not quite ready, but they still taste delicious!)


Verdict: the Red Delicious looked the best and tasted pretty good. The Yellow Transparent tasted good, but they separated from their skins and didn’t look so appetizing. The Jonathans looked just okay, but tasted the best. The Macs are definitely not for baked apples; they turned into crunchy applesauce.

We ate half for dinner and saved the other half for breakfast. They’re even good cold.

Bon appetit, or in Greene County lingo — them’s good eatin’.


Michael using his new picker, so we can get the good ones up high. He splurged and bought the expensive one!