Apple Cider? I’m Obsessed.
By Julie Anne Lindsey
A lot of things went into the making of my new Cider Shop Mysteries series. For starters, a deep, resounding love for the people of Northern West Virginia, the dialect, the history, the jaw-dropping scenery, and apples. Lots and lots of apples.
I could say my apple obsession originated during my many weekend trips and summer vacations to Wetzel County, West Virginia. My Dad grew up there, and much of his family still lived there. So we became regulars around the dinner table on Saturday and Sunday, extras for the front lawn horseshoe tournament Friday night and more often than not, spent our long lazy afternoons running wild through the hills on a set of ATVs. It was on one of those lost-in-the-wilderness rides that I discovered an abandoned and overgrown orchard. I was fascinated. I’d never seen real, juicy, edible apples outside a grocery store. Only the nasty crab apples that fell from trees near my house in town. I was astounded by the colors, sizes, shapes and flavors. My mother’s go-to choices at the Kroger ended with Red Delicious and Granny Smith. Once I’d discovered just how different the fruit could taste, everything in my apple-loving mind had new questions!
I get residual butterflies just recalling the adolescent thrill!
If various apples tasted different from the vine, then how would they taste in my favorite apple-based treats? Pies and crisps? And dumplings and cider. I found a crock pot cider recipe in an old cookbook from my mother’s childhood and I knew what I had to do. I used bungee cords to secure one of her laundry baskets to my ATV and headed back to the overgrown, bee-managed orchard to collect as many apples as I could. I hauled the apples home and followed the recipe while my mother fussed about her filthy, cracked up laundry basket, then I waited.
Turns out that making cider in a crockpot really is a slow business. And it took some straining to filter the cloves and bits of oranges and the cinnamon sticks, but in the end? Worth. It.
I was the hit of the neighborhood when I came home to Ohio after that visit. Dad helped me harvest as many of the abandoned orchard’s apples as the bees would allow, then we loaded the station wagon and went home for a week of cider making. I liked to serve it hot then, though now I also enjoy it cold. I played with the toppings, added caramel sauce and a wedge of apple or slice of orange. Sometimes a cinnamon stick for stirring. And Voila! My lifelong love of apple cider was off and running.
Fast forward about two decades, and it finally occurred to me that maybe writing about a woman from northern West Virginia who loved cider like I do would be fun. So I did. And I love it! Now, I get to play make-believe every day, living my best fictional life on a real, operational, West Virginia orchard. I’ve learned so much more about apples than that little girl standing in front of the abandoned orchard would ever have imagined. And I get to dream up all the adventure I can to go with it!
If you’re in the mood for a trip the Blue Ridge Mountains, want to spend some time on my orchard or just enjoy the adventures of one apple-loving woman and her granny, I hope you’ll give APPLE CIDER SLAYING a try.
Do you have a favorite kind of apple? Or way to serve it?
Julie Anne Lindsey is an award-winning and national bestselling author of mystery and romantic suspense. She’s published more than twenty-five novels since her debut in 2013 and currently writes series as herself, as well as under multiple pen names, for Harlequin, Kensington, Sourcebooks and Crooked Lane Books. When she's not writing the stories that keep her up at night, Julie stays busy in Ohio with her extremely patient husband and three amazing kids. Today she hopes to make someone smile. One day she plans to change the world. Learn more about Julie and her books at www.julieannelindsey.com
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