My Brother's Farm: Reflections on Life, Farming and the Pleasures of Foodby Doug Jones
In My Brother's Farm, Doug Jones, an overeducated vegetable delivery boy and incorrigible entrepreneur, leads a spirited romp through/i>/i>
For the millions of people who devour books like A Year in Provence, shop at farmer's markets, and have an insatiable appetite for the TV Food Network--a book that celebrates the soulful delights of country living.
In My Brother's Farm, Doug Jones, an overeducated vegetable delivery boy and incorrigible entrepreneur, leads a spirited romp through a buffet of organic farming, swanky restaurants, and copper-filled swamps. His story takes the reader into the charming world of rural life and local agriculture, while introducing some real-life characters who would be perfectly at home in the wackiest of novels. From wine making to vegetable growing, from oyster cultivating to suburban bow hunting, this is the tapestry of rural life today. A vicarious weekend in the country, this book is the antidote for everyday life.
Includes 40 recipes from some of America's most famous restaurants
"Offering fresh-flavored recipes from many well-known restaurants...the unpretentious Jones is sure to win over readers."--Publishers Weekly
Mr. Jones gave up a job as a corporate headhunter and went into the business of selling to restaurants what his brother Guy grows on his organic farm, Blooming Grove, in Orange County. He also delivers organic produce grown by his brother and others on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley, New Jersey and Connecticut to residences in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
The story was too good and too filled with anecdotes documenting the clash of the bucolic and urban in this region's farm culture to keep it a secret, hence this interesting little book. Most of the 40 or so seasonal recipes come from family, friends and the restaurants that depend on Blooming Grove.
- Penguin Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.04(w) x 7.46(h) x 0.55(d)
Read an Excerpt
The Copper Farmer
A big mistake is easy. Anyone can make a big mistake. It doesn't take a lot of imagination, no complex plan is necessary. It's also pretty simple to avoid. Don't rob liquor stores, don't tease the lion, don't date the intern, don't order your tea with both milk and lemon. And even if you do make a big mistake, it's easily recognized. "I think I just made a big mistake." Everybody has said it. We all know when a colossal blunder has been made. But a small mistake? A slight error in judgment? A misstep? A lapse? A blooper? A bungle? There's a real art to that.
Much more insidious, too, harder to see. You don't hear a lot of people admonishing themselves with, "Hmm, I think I might have just made a small slip there, whose eventual effect will be revisited on me a thousandfold." And yet, that's how most people accomplish a personal catastrophe. Small mistakes. It worked for me.
I had come home to New Jersey after running away to Taos, New Mexico, where I was a ski bum for a year. I was going to help open a restaurant in New York and re-enter a relationship with a girl my friends referred to as "the disapproving blonde." But she dumped me immediately upon my return, the funding for the restaurant fell through, and I found myself living with Mom and Dad in the New Jersey suburbs. In just a few weeks, I went from skiing in the mornings and playing golf in the afternoons, living in an adorable adobe hut, to sleeping on my old little-boy plastic-sheeted mattress twin bed with a Superman blanket. I was back in my old hometown. I was in shock.
And I was poor. Not the good, free, "the world is my oyster" poor that I was used to from my stint as an aspiring actor in New York City. That was a sort of privileged poora young, interesting, happy poverty. That was, "Well, I can't make the rent yet for the month, but I just found thirty dollars in my jeans, so let's go catch the Yankees game."
This wasn't that. This was the "I'm thirty-one, I have no job, and I live with my parents" kind of poor. A ridiculous poor. I couldn't even afford the whole word "poor." "Po." That's what I was. I was po. And unbearably gloomy. My series of small mistakes had marooned me in a beige room right above my parents.
Short on morale, low on options, and out of money, I ended up picking heirloom tomatoes on my brother Guy's organic vegetable farm in Blooming Grove, New York, some thirty miles north of my parents' house.
This was not what I had had in mind when I came back home. I was supposed to be a partner in a groovy restaurant with an adoring and supportive girlfriend at my side. Instead, I was a suburban migrant farmworker with cable TV, occasional access to my dad's car, and no prospects. "Douglas, you pick up that room before you leave this house" had re-entered my life. I had become a thirty-one-year-old migrant adolescent.
As for my social life, well, "Hi, I'm on the rebound, virtually unemployed, and I live with my parents, wanna go halves on a beer?" is not really what the successful suburban single woman wanted to hear.
I was commuting on the ShortLine bus every day to work on the farm, bugging my family for rides to and from the station. I was drinking Yoo-Hoo constantly and eating an enormous greasy egg, cheese, and ham sandwich on a bagel just about every morning.
Eschewing all the beautiful produce on the farm, I instead would go to the Chinese place in Blooming Grove for lunch, where I could get about two pounds of sweet-and-sour anything for four dollars, including egg roll. I had begun to self-medicate my sorrows with those little Oatmeal Creme Sandwich Cookies from Little Debbie. Ahh, Little Debbie. That scamp, that cunning vixen. She had become my secret passion, my guilty delight. I denied myself none of Little Debbie's naughty concoctions. She had a special way with creme, and although I enjoyed her Swiss Rolls, it was for her Oatmeal Creme Sandwich Cookies that I truly loved her. But Little Debbie proved a temporary pleasure, a fleeting distraction. And my steady diet of humble pie was starting to get me down.
Then I found it. My way out of poverty, out of my parents' house, and into my own apartment. Copper.
I found miles of copper wire while I was moping around in a swamp near the farm. A swamp, by the way, is an excellent place to mope, to really get down on life. Any situation in life can be made that much worse simply by relocating it to a swamp. (I was supposed to be out picking wildflowers to sell at the farmers' market, but I've always had a bit of a tendency to wander off.)
It seems that dozens of old utility poles had been cut down along a stretch of railroad tracks when the tracks had been taken out of service. The poles had simply been allowed to drop into the adjoining swamp, copper wire and all. And I had discovered it. It was, I decided, a sign.
Copper was selling for about seventy cents a pound, and there was what looked like tons of it strung about. It was the mother lode of recyclable materials, buried in a smelly swamp.
I abandoned my career as a tomato picker, borrowed my dad's Jeep, and became a copper farmer, pulling the wire out of the hot swamp and coiling it into huge spools. I had to scale a near vertical embankment to get my precious metal out of the swamp. With the spools balanced on a white birch branch across my back, I'd claw my way back up to the tracks, thighs burning, bugs buzzing. I was personally responsible for many generations of mosquitoes having an adequate food supply.
I felt like Bogart in The African Queen, trudging through the mire pulling his boat along, but I had no Katharine Hepburn to keep things interesting; just me, Little Debbie, and my wire, though I did see an occasional band of exercising walkers. The tracks were now being used as a sort of fitness trail and a place to ride dirt bikes, which seemed like a curious marriage of mixed uses; power walking to the roar of two-stroke engines.
My sudden appearance on the trail startled quite a few walkers, as they couldn't see me while I was scaling the embankment. I would stumble out of the high weeds onto the path, filthy and grunting, with my copper wire crucifix balanced across my shoulders. I had to shuffle down the path, a grimy scrap-metal penitent, asking the ladies in their neat walking outfits and tennis shoes to step aside.
I looked like I was making a bizarre pilgrimage to nowhere. Also, for some reason, I had started to dress all in white, as though I was involved in some ancient purification ritual. I wore white pants and a long-sleeved white dress shirt, the collar turned up against the bugs, with a piece of white clothesline as a belt. I had a yellow bandana on my head and a light blue one around my neck, ascot style, a sort of swamp thing meets Truman Capote effect. And I was very dirty.
Sometimes, when the mood hit me, I'd break out singing old spirituals as I trudged along past the power-walking ladies. "Swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home." Nobody joined in. Thinking back, I don't know why I wasn't arrested.
I shuttled the loads over to the farm and piled them up at the top of the driveway. It was easily the hardest work I had ever done. At the end of the day I would be filthy, exhausted, bug bitten, smelly, and famished, my socks full of mud, my pockets stuffed with empty cookie wrappers. But I was my own boss, and I knew that the harder I worked the more I'd eventually get paid. Copper! My grubstake in the world! A chance to start over, get a place of my own, maybe a little truck, and show that girl who dumped me just how resourceful I was. Move up and move out!
After about ten days of hard labor, I was ready.
I found a junkyard in Jersey City that offered the best price for copper, overloaded my dad's old Jeep, and spent my last three dollars on gas. My brother would have spotted me twenty bucks if I'd asked, but I knew that the junkyard man would be paying me cash for my load.
I'd even called about a little apartment in Waldwick, New Jersey, and I thought I might take a look at it on my way home from my first big commodities deal. I had about nine hundred dollars' worth of copper in the truck, by my figuring. And I had barely scratched the surface of what was lying in that swamp.
I was excited at my prospects. The train tracks went on for miles, with copper wire ripe for the picking. Maybe I could hire a crew to do the grunt work and I could supervise, pass out the Creme Sandwiches, and work on my investments. Maybe even flirt with a passing power walker or two as they marveled at my ingenuity:
"Hello, ladies, lovely day for copper farming, don't you think? Would you care for a Little Debbie?"
Copper farming was my calling. Copper was my way out of the muck that I had mired myself in. What a break. Suddenly, my future was looking as bright as a copper-penny.
Except that it was steel. Steel! With a thin copper coating on it. It was completely worthless. Actually it was less than worthless. The junkyard man put an old greasy magnet against my wire.
"Steel, son. This is steel. Not copper, see?" and then he took a piece of sandpaper and sanded off the thin copper layer to reveal the steel, and my folly, underneath. The look on his craggy face said, "You are a foolish young man, and I pity you." But certainly steel had some value, right? Lots of things are made from steel, aren't they?
"What's it worth?" I asked him, trying to hide my feeling of impending doom.
"Worth?" he snorted. "It's not worth anything. You pay me to take it away. See that insulation on the wire? Well, it's probably got asbestos in it. You can't just dump that stuff anywhere, you know."
"I think I made a big mistake," I muttered.
"You think?" he said. "You think you made a big mistake?" And he walked over to the water cooler, just inside the door.
I sat on a spool of my worthless wire on the ground behind the Jeep and put my filthy hands over my face. I slowly shook my head and felt my throat tighten. If you ever get to the point in your life where you find yourself about to weep in a Jersey City junkyard, know that you've made a few wrong turns and it may be time to think about changing course.
The junkyard man returned, with a little paper cup of water for me. I was hoping he had put hemlock in it. He was wise, much wiser than I was, and he hadn't been absent the day they taught which metals are magnetic and which are not, as I evidently was. He had a taciturn quality, that ability to sum a situation up quickly, that many men have whose careers demand that their names be stenciled on their shirts. Like a junkyard Zen master, he knew how to instruct and give advice in a way that I could understand on many levels, even in my sorry state. For I was out past where the small mistakes occur and had entered the realm of the Whopper. I realized that I had become the guy he'd tell a story about whenever a conversation turned to recycling blunders: "One time, I had this guy drive three hours to bring me a pile of old steel wrapped in asbestos, and you know what the first thing he said was? `So, what's it worth?'"
"This is a tough business, kid," he said, handing me a crisp, clean ten-dollar bill.
"Here, get yourself some lunch," he advised.
"And take all that crap with you."
I knew exactly what he meant.
I reloaded all my carcinogenically coated wire, got in the Jeep, and rested my head against the steering wheel.
"Hey kid," he called, "I'll give you nine hundred for the Jeep."
My first thought? I was in Jersey City. They practically invented car theft there. It was a perfect alibi for selling my father's car to a junkyard philosopher-opportunist. I mean, if you wanted to get an old, not very valuable car stolen, then Jersey City was the place to do it.
"I was carjacked, Dad. They must have been looking for a beat-up old Cherokee that smells like Aqua Velva and has a broken air conditioner. They target certain cars, I hear."
Or I could use the crime to mask my own foolishness. "I bet they took the car just to get my wire. Copper's going for a lot these days, as I'm sure you know."
But I couldn't do it. It just wouldn't have been right. (Anyway, the title wasn't in the glove compartment.)
Instead, I went home and called my friend Doug out in Chicago. Doug had a "real job," and he and I were about the same size.
"I need you to mail me one of your old suits," I said. "I gotta get a job."
And he did.
And I did.
I wrote a résumé loosely based on fact and started going on interviews. The suit jacket didn't quite fit, so I would throw the jacket jauntily over my shoulder when I first went in. I felt that this displayed an air of self-assurance and friendly confidence. And it was much better than looking like your jacket was too small. I did okay on the interviews. Things started looking up on the job front.
It looked like I was soon to be employed, so I decided that it was time I started dating again. So, armed with my tomato money and accompanied by my friend Ray, I started to go out in Manhattan. There are only about fifty-eight single straight men in Manhattan who aren't on parole, so my odds were pretty good.
I met my new girlfriend (and eventual business partner) in an Irish bar on West Fifty-seventh Street in Manhattan. Nicolle was working at Planet Hollywood, a place that I once worked at as well, before I sort of fired myself. She was out for a quiet after-work cocktail with her friend Kate, who was a friend of mine as well. I shoehorned my way into the conversation.
It ended up that Nicolle had been hired to replace me at the restaurant, and we hit it off quite well. Now, Nicolle is terribly pretty, and I figured that she was most likely dating some fascinating artist, or a captain of industry, or an investment banker, or at least an employed guy. And, although I had been on a few interviews, all I had was the borrowed suit, no job except my tomato gig, and I was carrying my net worth in my pocket. My phone number and my mom's were still one and the same. But Nicolle didn't seem to care about any of that. In fact, she liked the whole farm angle, being an upstate New York girl herself. And she was good luck for me, 'cause right after we met, I got that "real" job.
My brother told me to beware of any job that you've got to buy new clothes for, and ultimately he was right. I told myself that it was only temporary. It lasted three years. But my stint in corporate America was good for me, and it was in my corporate cubbyhole that the idea for "My Brother's Farm Organic Produce and Tasty Morsels Delivery Service" was hatched.
My job was selling temporary help, ironically enough, in New York City. Each Friday, I would leave the office and go down to the Union Square farmers' market to visit my brother Guy, or my sister Cindy, and my dad. I would bring back a few things each time from Guy's stand for the people at my office. Some tomatoes, maybe a little mesclun, a few bunches of fresh herbs. And then one day, as I was talking with a lady in my office, I was struck by a thought.
"Ooh, Doug, these tomatoes are gorgeous, where did you get them?"
"They're from my brother's farm."
"They're beautiful." And then she asked me, "Where's My Brother's Farm?"
Click. That was it. That was how the idea for My Brother's Farm popped into my head. It's funny how ideas get born.
Nicolle was an actress, and she needed a way to make some dough besides waiting on tables. I needed something to do in addition to finding people crummy temp jobs. And Guy could always use a new way to sell some stuff. We started with a few people in my office as clients. Each week we'd put together a bag of fruit, vegetables, cheese, and bread from the farmers' market. We supplemented what my brother had with produce from other farmers. Everything was locally grown and very fresh. Nicolle suggested that I write a newsletter, and we asked Guy's restaurant clients for recipes. Our delivery vehicle was a taxicab or the subway, and we charged not nearly enough money. But it was fun and we were learning. Then we got our "Public Relations Department" rolling. We delivered a sample bag to New York magazine. A small mention in their annual food issue was all it took.
Nicolle and I were vacationing at the Jersey shore when the magazine came out. We got almost five hundred phone calls. We racked up an enormous bill on our calling cards returning calls from a pay phone on the boardwalk. We made so many calls that the phone company kept shutting the cards off because they thought somebody must have stolen them. We went from 20 clients to 120 in a couple of weeks. We were a disorganized mess. But people loved the service and the phone kept ringing.
We were driving all over Manhattan, trying to accommodate everyone's particular schedule. Upper East Side: "I'm leaving for the Hamptons at eleven A.M. Do you think you could be here by then?" Certainly.
The Financial District: "I leave work by noon on Fridays. Can you be here?" No problem. "I'm in the World Trade Center, one-hundred-first floor. You'll need three forms of photo I.D., a blood sample, and a passport to get in. Oh, and can I mail you a check? I'm a little low on cash." Of course.
And the special orders.
"Can I substitute bread for another vegetable?"
"Can I substitute a vegetable for more bread?"
"Can you take out the tomatoes and give me more cheese?"
"I'd like more fruit and no cheese or bread. Can you do that?"
"I'm allergic to peppers."
"I'm allergic to sunflowers."
"I'm allergic to the nightshade family."
"I'm lactose intolerant."
"I'm intolerant in general."
"I'm a vegan. I use no animal products. Do you use manure as fertilizer?"
Well, yes, but we generally don't kill the animal to get its manure, Ma'am. (Although threatening to do so might increase the amount of manure we do get.)
We tried to accommodate as much as we could. (And we still do.) But some of it was impossible. And some of it was nutty. It was trial and error; it was trial by fire. It was trial and trial again.
Eventually, though, we got more organized, thanks mostly to Nicolle. I can't organize a sock drawer, but she did a really great job of systematizing the whole operation. We bought a delivery van and a computer and hired some of our friends to help out. They were all actors, which made for a lot of theatrics at times, but they all worked very hard for us. And we learned to say no, which was a key to our little company's succeeding.
Our clients seem pretty hooked on My Brother's Farm. We get an amazing amount of positive feedback. And since I'm the one who scribbles it each week, I especially appreciate the comments on the newsletter. Each week it talks a little bit about what's happening on the farm, what's in the bag, coming attractions, and occasionally something about the farmer who grew the food. It is from these newsletters that this book has sprung. Or sprang. (Springed?) I've included some of them throughout the book.
The journey from tomato seed to tomato soup is a surprisingly intricate one, and there are a lot of people involved along the way. My brother, the other small farmers, the farmworkers, the chefs, our customers. All are involved in the food chain of My Brother's Farm. Some of their stories are in here too.
Occasionally, the produce we sell is a little unusual, and we get a lot of "What do I do with this?" questions from our customers. Usually, my answer is "Sauté it in a little olive oil and garlic and squeeze a little lemon on it," no matter what "it" is. Which you could do to the pages of this book and make a passable meal. Just toss with pasta. (It may even make it more palatable.) Anyway, the point is that I've tried to keep the recipes straightforward and simple. Sometimes the professional chefs get a little carried away. They can forget that not everyone has an army of knife-wielding assistants working in a state-of-the-art kitchen, ready to chop on command, and that the home cooks have to have enough time and energy left to sit down and enjoy their creations. At most of the restaurants I've worked at, the chefs are too tired after cooking for anything but French fries, coffee, and beer. Here, though, they've done their best to keep it simple. It shouldn't take you any longer to clean up than it did to eat.
A delivery business of any kind in New York City can be maddening, and a food business particularly trying. The traffic can be unreal (and I could wallpaper my kitchen with the parking tickets). Sometimes a worm will sneak into a piece of corn (ahh, the lure of the big city) and I'll get an earful from one of our clients. Or we might miscount and be long on beans or short on honeydews. But mostly our clients enjoy the service, and we try to put out a product that people will appreciate. Sometimes I still help myself to a nice slice of humble pie, but somehow when you've baked it yourself, it doesn't taste so bad.
One of our customers once said that she could tell that "there's a lot of love in that bag of vegetables." I like that. I hope that some of that spirit spills out of the deliveries and into this book.
Summer Tomato and
Goat Cheese Salad
(UNION SQUARE CAFE)
A delightfully simple summer salad utilizing ripe tomatoes and soft goat cheese. If available, low-acid yellow tomatoes make this a particularly colorful presentation, but the salad tastes just as good if you use red tomatoes exclusively. Soaking the paper-thin raw onion slices in water will rid them of their excess pungency and crisp them nicely for the salad.
2 large red heirloom tomatoes
2 large yellow heirloom tomatoes
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup red onions, thinly sliced and soaked in ice water
¼ cup basil leaves, thinly sliced
5 ounces fresh soft goat cheese, crumbled
4 teaspoons Italian red wine vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Core and slice the tomatoes ¼-inch thick. Arrange the tomatoes on a large platter in concentric circles, overlapping alternating red and yellow slices. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drain the onions well and lay them over the tomatoes. Sprinkle evenly with basil and crumbled goat cheese. Season the goat cheese with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle the vinegar and the olive oil over the salad. Serve.
Sancerre, California sauvignon blanc, and crisp Italian whites are perfect with this tangy salad.
Little Duggie's Creme Sandwiches
Makes about 16 little heart attacks
First of all, let me say that my version pales in comparison to the original. Creme, especially, is an elusive mistress. It's difficult to capture at home the silken nuances achieved by Little Debbie. But these aren't too bad. Each one, though, is like a punch in the heart, so dole them out sparingly, lest your love of them make your heart actually, rather than figuratively, burst.
6 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons vanilla, the clear kind if you can find it
½ cup vegetable shortening
1 pound confectioners' sugar
½ teaspoon salt
Beat all ingredients together until smooth. Add the sugar a cup or so at a time, or it will fly all over the place.
Chill the creme while you make the cookies.
¾ cup butter flavored shortening
½ cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs plus one egg yolk
1 cup flour
3 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup butterscotch chips, softened
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cream together shortening, sugars, and vanilla. Mix in eggs. Mix in everything else. Arrange dough in small clumps on a cookie sheet. Cook till just done, about 9 minutes.
Let the cookies cool completely. Spread one cookie with the creme, and sandwich with another cookie. Wrap them individually and store in a shoebox in the fridge.
My Brother's Farm
212 615-6733 Support Your Local Farmers
Now, then, where were we? Hello! And welcome to all of our new clientsand welcome back all you old-timers. Okay, so my prediction of a wild winter was off a bit. Mild, yes. Wild? Nope. And this spring! Ugh. Wet and cold. Plants (and farmers) hate wet and coldso things are quite a bit behind schedule this year. Hopefully the tomatoes will play ketchup (sorry) and all will be as it should after a few sunny June weeks. Mild winters, though, usually lead to wild summers; we'll see. This winter we bought a new vanwell, new to us, anyway. One of those groovy conversion models with leather captain's chairs, a television, and VCR. We're using it for deliveries, so I took the happening chairs and trim out. (We'll leave the VCR, though, for inspirational moviesThe Grapes of Wrath? They Drive by Night?) Also, we finally bought a computer. Big one. Does all sorts of stuff. I think. So far, I've mastered the solitaire feature and that's about it. Supposedly, though, it will make life easier and billing smoother, will increase productivity, and will add muscle tone. We'll see. The new farm dog, Rosie, who we got to kill woodchucks, has registered five official kills so far this season. Unfortunately, though, they were five chickens, not woodchucks. Oh well, maybe the lack of eggs will lower our cholesterol. Thoughtful pooch. Nicolle and I are happy to be beginning our third season at last and we appreciate your continued support. * We also do organic garden and terrace plantingcall for an estimate! * Thanks to all, Doug and Nicolle.
Eat Your Vegetable 155 Henry street #5G Brooklyn, NY 11201
Nine Spice Roast Game Hen
(THE GRANGE HALL)
3 Rock Cornish game hens
¼ cup fresh thyme, cleaned and chopped
¼ cup fresh parsley, cleaned and chopped
¼ cup fresh rosemary, cleaned and chopped
½ cup scallions, chopped
¼ cup dry crushed red chili flakes
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 ½ tablespoons salt
¼ cup soy sauce
1 cup olive oil
1 ½ tablespoons minced garlic
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Wash and pat dry the hens. With a heavy knife, split the hens along the backbone.
Combine the remaining ingredients and mix well. Coat the entire surface of the hens liberally with the seasoning mixture. Place the birds skin-side up in a roasting pan. Roast 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown. The hens are done when the juice runs clear when the thigh is pricked.
with Garlic Tops and Walnut Oil
1 ½ pounds potatoes
¼ cup good walnut oil
6 six-inch garlic tops, coarsely chopped
fresh pepper and kosher salt
handful of chopped herbs
(parsley, rosemary, thyme, etc.)
Thinly slice the potatoes (skins on) and wrap them in a towel. In a big skillet, heat the oil until hot but not smoking. Add the taters and sauté until browned on both sides10 minutes a side or so. Add the garlic tops and sauté for just 2 or 3 minutes more. Do not overcook the garlic tops! Sprinkle with the chopped fresh herbs, salt, and pepper. Add a little fresh nutmeg if you like, too. Toss to blend. Serve on our mesclun with bread and cheese and a white Beaujolais and that's dinner.
Have blueberries and vanilla ice cream for dessert. Eat it all.
5 to 6 good pie apples (I use a mixture of different kinds like northern spy, macoun, and empire. I get them from Chip the apple guy at the market.)
1 pint apple cider cinnamon
a little sugar
2 pie crusts, top and bottom (I confess that I often use those store-made onesit is Humble Pie, after allbut it's probably best to make your own.)
½ cup real maple syrup
1 pint heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Peel the apples and cut them into pretty thick slices. Soak them in cider for about half an hour. Toss with some cinnamon and a bit of sugar. Put them in the bottom crust. Cover with the top crust. Cut vents in the crust. Trim and reserve the dough that hangs over the edge of the pie tin. Roll out the reserved dough and cut out the word "Humble" with a sharp knife. Spell it out around the crust, attaching the letters with a little water. Wrap a little aluminum foil around the outside edge of the pie so it doesn't burn. Bake for about an hour. Put a cookie sheet on the rack below it. Remove the foil about halfway through the baking.
While it's baking, whisk together maple syrup and the cream in a bowl. Transfer the mixture to a little pitcher, like a gravy boat. About 5 minutes before the pie is done, pull it out of the oven. Pour the maple cream into the vents of the pie (aahh!) and return to the oven for 5 minutes or so.
This pie is no damn good for you, but it's so tasty. If you don't want to make it "Humble" pie, spell out something else, maybe "Of my eye" (get it? apple of my eye? ugh) or "X the radius squared." Or some other such pi or pie or apple thingy. Folks like that.
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This story was very poor. While the book was organized into chapters, the chapters did not flow well into each other at all. The story was disconnected. The author also lacks to give any background information on how & why his brother started the farm. I like reading about local farming & sustainable agricultural and anecdotes but this book failed to deliver.
As a horticulture therapist it was so easy to identify with Doug Jones. The bugs in the fridge really did it. My family was getting their worried look as I howled over the book. All I can say to Jones is get with it man and turn out another book, your public is waiting!