This weekend’s Texas Book Festival is being called the Year of Food*. Or something like that. It was in an email I must have deleted. I’m volunteering again this year so I’ve been limiting saved emails to those labeled “Important” and telling me where to show up with my refillable water bottle.
A cooking tent has always featured at the festival. It’s where I first saw local food writer, Addie Broyles, talk about the Austin Food Blogger Alliance’s cookbook. It is not when I first learned about AFBA, but that is a story for a different day.
My favorite part about the festival is finding new authors. The year I was still sore from having my wisdom teeth removed I watched the women behind The Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook temper chocolate and make buttery caramel. Another year I heard Susan Casey speak about waves, sharks, and the people who’d never claim to have tamed either. The most entertaining author I saw in any year**, with no criticism to any of the others, was Michael Scott author of The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. He stood at the front of the auditorium, striding the width. The moderator sat on the steps leading up to the stage where the table and name placards were set up, unneeded.
I have never fantasized about being one of the cooking tent authors. I have, however, wanted and imagined myself to be one of the other authors. My books would, of course, have food in them. I’d faithfully — with journalistic integrity — document what real life scientists ate while laughing over the days misadventures and discoveries. Even fictional characters need to eat.
Earlier this week I perused my own 3×5′ bookcase for a non-food book to inspire this week’s blog post. Research could never be sweeter. Agatha Christie offered up Halloween Party. In it a young girl, Joyce, is drowned in a galvanized bucket used for bobbing apples during a Halloween Party. At the behest of famous detective writer Ariadne Oliver, Hercule Poirot takes on the case. Mrs. Oliver
is was very fond of apples. She absolutely detests real life murders. My copy is so old I must have borrowed it from my mom when I was no older than poor Joyce. It still gave me a nightmare.
It’s also a delightfully timely choice — in regards to Halloween rather than any comment on society or murders. One Texas Book Festival event I’ve always wanted to attend, but never managed to, is the historical graveyard tour. Last year R.L. Stine was there. R.L. Stine! I had a brief affair with his books as a pre-teen before I started hitting the hard stuff.
Apple pie isn’t anywhere in Agatha’s book but I’d like to believe that Mrs. Oliver liked apples in all types of dishes. I’m not sure which region of the U.S. claims apple pie with cheddar cheese. I’ve never eaten it before. Based on pictures most of them use processed yellow cheese. It has always looked completely unappetizing to me. But, I’ve been intrigued. And more intrigued. So intrigued I started to wonder about shredding a good cheddar cheese on top of a baking apple pie or maybe into the crust. To make sure I wasn’t going crazy I first searched out these recipes.
I’m not crazy! Or, I’m not alone in my crazy.
For this pie I added somewhere between 1/2 and 3/4 cup thinly shredded good white cheddar and about 2 teaspoons well-chopped fresh rosemary to my go-to pie crust recipe (from The Silver Palate Cookbook). At this point I’ve got a question for all the bakers out there. Why does a crust break apart when rolling it out? This was a double crust, the first (bottom) half cracked so badly I pressed it together in the pie dish. The top, thankfully, didn’t though it started to. Was it just impatience while rolling it out? Or was it the fact that I pressed one thinner than the other before refrigerating it? It tasted great. I cut the little bit of leftover into crackers, baked them until browned and gobbled them straight off the baking sheet.
Not wanting to Bogart the crust, I sliced the apples thin, tossed them with lemon juice, spoonfuls of light brown sugar, and a few pinches of cinnamon.
This post was submitted to Our Growing Edge — a world-wide community all about trying new foods. October’s host is The Kiwi Diaries. Be sure to check her site in November for the full month’s round up.
*It’s actually “year of the chef.”
**I’m changing it to a tie because I completely forgot about seeing children’s book author Bob Shea read at and win the Literary Death Match several years back. Guess what? He was back this year! And I saw him during one of my volunteer shifts! “Dinosaur wins!” (I’m the dinosaur.)