The assignment for my writer’s group this month is “Retell a fairy tale or other well-known story (fact or fiction) from the point of view of a minor character, e.g. Bashful in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.” I try to incorporate a recipe in all my writing assignments, so here is this month’s effort (and the soup is really really good too).
An Apple a Day
Listen, you think its easy running a small business these days? I’m here to tell you it is not. The economy is in the outhouse, the big guys are taking over everything and price points are climbing like that beanstalk I heard about. I’m sure you heard that rumor, the one about the guy trading his cow for some sort of “fell of the back of a cart” beans? Probably some of that GMO stuff, you know those Giant-manipulated organics. I guarantee you those beans didn’t come from my shop!
Here’s what happened to me, and it nearly drove me out of business. Used to be I could just go to the local farms and pick and choose what I wanted to stock in my place. I’d get up early twice a week, leave the wife in charge of the shop, make my rounds of the local farms and purchase that day’s harvest, then come back and set up the displays.
Now I have to make sure all my suppliers are properly vetted and certified. All these new rules and regulations, really its ridiculous. I only hope that now that the Witch is no longer running things, there will be some changes.
Oh sure, once upon a time, the minstrels sigh, all dreamy-like. Well, I can tell you it wasn’t once upon a time, it all began six months ago on the second Saturday in October last year, just when the new apple season was starting. Oh and they were beauties. I usually carry Belle De Boskoops and Duchess of Oldenburgs for eating out of hand, Blue Pearmains for drying, Howgate Wonders for baking, and, of course Sops of Wine for cider, as well as any other varieties that the local farmers suggest. The store smelled like apple wine and my displays were full and beautiful. I had them all piled up out front, in bins by variety, and polished until they shone like red gold in the sun.
That Saturday morning this old dame shows up. I get a lot of the granny trade in here, pinching my fruit and sniffing at my lovely vegetables until you’d think I was selling pig swill or goat fodder. Honestly, they bruise the produce and then won’t buy it because its bruised! See, it isn’t easy running a small shop.
Anyway, this old, well, lady I guess I should say, shows up and she wants apples. What kind, I ask her, are you going to bake them or what? Never you mind, she says to me, snippy as anything. So I just let her pick and choose. Then, after all her fussing around she chooses one, just one apple and says to me how much. Well, I think, she looks like she hasn’t got 2 buttons to rub together, so I tell her not to worry. This first one, I tell her, is on the house and I hope she’ll remember me and come back with a bigger order another time.
At that she gives me a sort of sideways look that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I’m not sure just what it was, but there was something odd about her.
Then, two weeks later, what do I hear? Snow White chokes on an apple and they say it was from my shop! It seems that the old dame was actually the Witch! Now how was I supposed to know that? And, how was I supposed to know she was going to poison the apple that I gave her? Gave her! In kindness! I mean really…
Anyhow, here’s the whole story as I heard it. As we all know, the Witch marries the King after the first Queen dies and she’s jealous as all get-out of the King’s beautiful daughter, Snow White. So, the Witch figures that she’s got to get rid of the girl, and she connives all sorts of foul play. Thing is, that is one lucky girl, and each time something goes wrong in the Witch’s plan. Either someone takes pity on the girl or she escapes somehow. But thaw Witch thinks she’s dead.
Then one day the Witch is preening in front of this magic mirror she has and when she asks it who is the fairest in the land, the mirror has the nerve to say that Snow White is by far. The Witch goes mad and swears she’ll do the girl in herself (I got this from my wife whose sister knows the cook at the castle, so it must be true). So, she comes in here, into my shop, and wheedles an apple out of me by looking so forlorn, and poisons the thing. Then she finds where Snow White has been hiding in the Forest with all these dwarves, if you can believe that part of the story, and gets Snow White to eat it. Snow White keels over and everyone blames me. I nearly had to close my doors! Terrible!
Then a few weeks later a Prince is out riding, and what he was doing in the Forest I do not know, but he sees Snow White all laid out looking like she’s sleeping, he kisses her and the apple dislodges from her throat. She wakes up, they fall in love, get married, and, I suppose, will live happily ever after although its much too soon to tell.
Nice for them; I’m the one left in a pickle. The Witch is out of favor, tossed back over the border into the wild lands she came from, and I’m stuck here labeling all my apples “Potential choking hazard. Do not allow eating by young children without adult supervision”.
Apple Squash Soup
1 large sweet onion, rough chopped
4 T olive oil
1 butternut squash (about 2 lb.)
2 large Grannysmith or Braeburn apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 or 2 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
4 C water or stock (vegetable or chicken stock)
1 t each cinnamon and nutmeg
salt and pepper
Set the oven to 350. Halve the squash, remove the seeds and stringy bits, brush the open flesh with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Please the squash cut side up in a baking pan in an inch or so of very hot water to keep it from sticking. Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until fork tender.
In a large heavy dutch oven, put the rest of the olive oil and the chopped onion. Cover and cook over very low heat while the squash cooks, stirring occasionally.
When the squash is ready, add the spices to the onion, stir in and add the squash. Hold the squash in a folded kitchen towel or hot mitt, and use a spoon to scoop the flesh from the peel. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.
Pureé with a stick blender, in a regular blender or in a food processor, and serve either warm or cold with yogurt on the side. This recipe will feed Snow White and all seven dwarves and is even better the next day.