Apple Days & a Giveaway


Apples are on my mind!

I visited a local apple orchard yesterday with my family and came back loaded with apples, cider, fudge and pumpkin butter–and we only went for the apple donuts!

One of the things I enjoyed when I was a child was to take family trips in autumn to see the colors and enjoy the Apple Days celebration in Julian, CA. Perhaps that is a reason I set my stories there. Nostalgia. In each of my books I’ve given a nod to the thing that kept Julian on the map after the gold rush there had played out — Apples.

James Madison, a widower, came to the area in 1867 looking for a good area for a ranch. He was born in New York, but grew up in New Orleans. He began breeding race horses (the Shiloh breed of quarter horse) and also Durham cattle. In the early 1870s, he and Thomas Brady traveled to San Bernardino, brought back a wagon-load of apple trees and planted an orchard.

The higher elevation and increased rainfall in the land around Julian, along with the type of apple-orchard-5soil, made the it perfect location for a different kind of fruit other than the lemons and grapefruits and avocado trees that did so well nearer the coast. Before long, Madison also had blackberries, peaches, grapes and almond trees that produced exemplary fruit. (He also grew wheat as well as had a half-share in the Hubbard Mine. He was a very busy man!)

Many other inhabitants of the area, began planting orchards.  By the 1890’s apples from Julian were shipped throughout the country and winning county fairs. They won blue ribbons at the 1893 Worlds’ Fair in Chicago and in 1904 at the St. Louis Fair. In 1907, Julian apples won eight gold medals in the Jamestown Virginia Exposition, one of them being the Wilder Medal, which is the highest award given by the American Pomological Society.

Apple facts


  • No other fruit has had the popularity of apples in art, literature, poems, and songs.
  • The original wild apple comes from Kazakhstan. This was found through following the DNA trail. These wild apples are still prevalent there today.
  • The original wild version can be terrifically sour. It is known as the “spitter” because the initial reaction upon taking a bite is to spit it out. It is only domestication and grafting that developed the sweet and tart flavors.
  • John Chapman (a.k.a. Johnny Appleseed) collected seeds from Pennsylvania cider mills and carried them west, starting orchards in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. These apples were too sour for eating and were used to make liquor.
  • The Temperance Movement in the 1880s viewed the apple as sinful (see previous) and pushed for the burning of apple trees.little_leaves1-e1459470207517-300x177
Apple Crisp
Apple Crisp

This is my standard recipe for Apple Crisp that I’ve been making for my family for years. (I prefer it warm, with a splash of milk to balance the sweetness.)

In an 8” x 8” buttered pan:

Fill pan with sliced apples OR 1 large can of apple pie filling.

In a bowl mix:

1 cup flour
¾  cup sugar
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. cinnamon
Add one beaten egg and mix with fork until crumbly.

Spread over fruit.
Melt one stick of butter and pour over mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.


What is your favorite way to enjoy apples?

Comment for a chance to win a copy of Western Spring Weddings,
set in Clear Springs (a.k.a. Julian!)

Psst! My favorite eating apple is the Honey Crisp. What’s yours?

Visit Kathryn at her website and Facebook!

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40 thoughts on “Apple Days & a Giveaway”

  1. Thank you for the great post.

    My favorite apple is a Pippin because they are so tart. My favorite way to eat them is my mom’s apple sour cream pie. Yummo!

    Cindy W.

    • Hi Cindy,
      Thanks for stopping by. My tastebuds aren’t too good at handling tart, but I know they make the best pies. I usually make the apple crisp and apple pie with the Granny Smith variety.

  2. I remember when I was a little girl living in New York and my grandparents had apple trees. I used to love sitting under the tree just eating them. But it all came to a stop quickly when I ate too many and got very sick from them. I didn’t eat apples for years after that. And then we moved to Texas and those apples were always calling for me and I couldn’t go back. My favorite way to eat apples now is in my or fritters.

  3. Thank you for the interesting facts about apples. I particularly enjoyed leaning that the dna evidence shows their origin in Kazakhstan. As usual, that sent me off on a search (sigh… ) to learn that country is thought to have had ancient Scythians.

    I like plain ole apple pie but with lots of cinnamon, and my favorite eating apple is the Red Delicious. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Honey Crisp here, but now I’ll have to keep an eye open to see if I can find them. Thank you again.

    • Hi Eliza,
      Your comment had me chuckling. My google searches drag me far and wide of what I’m after on such interesting journeys that I really don’t have time for. I used to like Red Delicious a lot, but once I tried a Honey Crisp I never went back LOL.

    • Hi Estella,

      Thanks for stopping by. That ice cream on top of a warm pie just does it for me, too. As pies go, my favorite is blueberry that way. I like the Gala apple too. I use it (cooked) in several recipes.

  4. I love so many varieties of apples, but my favs are Macintosh and Honeycrisp… I love apple pie and apple cake.

  5. Hi Kathleen,

    So good to have stop by! You know…I haven’t made an apple cake before but I’ve eaten them. Now my mouth is watering for one. I like the Macintosh too but I don’t see that variety at my grocers as often as the others that have been mentioned.

  6. Oh man, we always end up coming home with so much more goodness than we went to an orchard for! I can never resist those donuts and cider and jams and pies! My kids love visiting apple orchards and picking them. We have an abundance here in Michigan. Wow, I never knew the first apples were so sour! So interesting.

    • Hi Susan,
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting! We have apples in the stores here that are from Michigan. I thought those facts interesting too–especially that bit about Johnny Appleseed and how apples led in part to the temperance movement. I sure had the squeaky clean version Johnny’s adventures when I was growing up. LOL!

  7. Yumm! Apples are on my mind, too. : ) I think we’re just going into apple season here. My favorite is Apple cobbler — a recipe from my mom that we all adore! Of course I’m also a big apple pie and apple sauce fan as well — as long as it’s made from scratch at home. Nothing from the store, except perhaps the apples. : )

    • Hi Karen! Oh yes, I so agree about the apple sauce. Homemade is amazing–so different than store-bought. I actually haven’t tried an apple cobbler. When I make a cobbler it is always a cherry one. I may have to switch it up since both you and Karen Witemeyer both mentioned that!

    • Ha! Me too. But I think as I mature, I don’t like to go overboard on “sweet” and this recipe needs tweaking for me now. It is just too sweet, even though I have decreased the amount of sugar. I may have to go searching for another recipe. This one is handed down from my grandmother.

  8. I LOVE the Honey Crisp apple. They are more expensive, but I just don’t care. Ha! So good. Apple cobbler is probably my favorite apple recipe. No need to make a bottom crust, just apples, cinnamon, and a yummy crumb topping. Mmmmm

    • Hi Karen,
      I feel that way about the Honey Crisp too. I look at their price in the grocers, and then at the other apples, and then I go right back to the Honey Crisp. I’m definitely hooked. My husband likes Granny Smith but they are just too too tart for me.

  9. My favorite way to eat apples is in fried pies. My grandmother used to make the best ones, and I wish I had one (or two!) now.

    • Hi Cheryl,

      Hmm…I don’t think I’ve had a fried apple pie unless you mean like the McDonald dessert pies. I did try a recipe once from my aunt that has you slice the apple into eight pieces and then roll up each piece in a Pillsbury dough crescent wedge. Put them in a pan and then pour a can of Mountain Dew over them. Then bake them–not sure how long, maybe 20 minutes. Those were very good! Thanks for stopping by!

  10. That depends on whether I have to do the baking or not lol. I like to just grab one and eat it but there probably isn’t an apple dish that I wouldn’t like. Your recipe sounds wonderful.

    • Hi Catslady!
      Nice to hear from you today! I like the Honey Crisp for slicing up and eating. So sweet! But then I use other kinds for baking. I’ve heard the tarter ones make the best pies and crisps. As my taste buds change, this recipe is a bit too sweet for me. The milk helps, but I should look for a different one.

    • Hi Melanie! Thanks for stopping by! The last time I actually fixed traditional baked apples (and I do love them) was probably in my 8th grade home economics class. I’ve had them all kinds of ways, but never like that since.

  11. Apples are my all time favorite. I grew up in the middle of apple orchards, literally. There were apple orchards all around our house. Norther New York is know for their apples, especially the MacIntosh variety. It is my favorite. It is crisp with a slightly tart flavor. The orchard across the street form our home had several varieties mixed in. I used to go across and pick one large greening apple. I would slice off chunks all evening while I did my homework. I love making traditional apple pies and fresh apple cake. The cake recipe is quick and easy with a cream cheese frosting. I made one last week for a women’s club meeting. We will be visiting our old home in NY and will bring back a few bushels of Macs. Would love to be able to get unpasturied apple cider

    • Hi Patricia,

      You have some lovely memories! How fortunate that you had an orchard across the street! I don’t think that I’ve ever tried unpasturized apple cider. I just checked the jug I bought and it said “Processed for your safety” so I believe that means it was pasturized.

      • The reason to prefer un-pasturized cider is you can let it sit a few days and it will ferment. If you drop a few raisins in, it works even better. It gives you hard cider. How soon you decide to drink it will determine how strong the cider is. I believe they pasteurize it to prevent salmonella or dangers. We always got ours straight from the press, but haven’t been able to do that for a long time. Most have gone to a closed system.
        This was back when we got our eggs and fresh milk from the lady who lived on the corner with her 5 cows (a brown swiss and a guernsey – great for cream) and her small flock of chickens. The bottles of milk would have the top 1/4 to 1/3 separate out to thick cream.

  12. I love apple pie, though the kind of apple pies we make here in Finland are a bit different from the American version.

    • Hi Minna! My sons just got back from a trip to Europe and said the food was a bit different. that is what makes traveling so exciting–all the cultural differences–including the food! I would love it if you posted a recipe from Finland! Think about it!

  13. One of everyone’s favorite recipes in my 2 cookbooks (& You’re A Preacher’s Wife? and & You’re STILL A Preacher’s Wife?) is my Apple Chunk Cake with Happy Sauce. You could drink the sauce, and it makes me tremendously HAPPY!

  14. Thank you all for joining in and sharing your thoughts on apples. It is fun to celebrate the good things–the fond memories–and the deliciousness of autumn.

    I drew a name out of my Stetson (using and the winner of an autographed copy of Western Spring Weddings is Mary B!

    Mary ~ contact me at Kathryn (at) Kathryn Albright dot come and leave your address so that I can get it in the mail to you!

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