Apples 2 Apples: Spencer + Mutsu

applesNot only do I love the board game, but over the past few years, I’ve found my love for apples increasing.

Back in 2009, I blogged an apple taste test, Macoun v. Braebern. They were both good, but I chose the Braebern and it was my apple of choice for several years, even though I ate, cooked and baked with other apples too.

A couple of years later, I attended TECHmunch in Boston and heard Amy Traverso speaking as part of a panel discussion. This may have been the first time that I learned about her book,The Apple Lover’s Cookbook. I planned to get it right away, but didn’t and now find myself thinking that this book is becoming a necessity.

There are so many different types of apples and this is supposed to be a very good season here in New England. I want to learn more about apples and of course eat them too. Chronicle, a local lifestyle television program, recently had a wonderful show all about apples.

They mentioned some urban orchards that allow apple picking and talked about the Roxbury Russett, which originated in the Roxbury section of Boston, where I was born. My parents, who grew up in Roxbury, talk about how when they were young, they could just randomly pick apples and other fruits on trees that were around the city.

When my brother and I were little, my parents would take us apple picking in the fall. By then we had moved out of the city to the suburbs. My father loved taking us on long drives and we’d go all over New England. We’d get fresh apple cider and my mom would make apple sauce, apple pie and buckwheat pancakes with apples. Just the memory of the scent of apples cooking, usually with cinnamon, makes me smile.

When I was at the farmers market at Dewey Square last week, I saw so many new to me varieties of apples. I decided to try the Spencer and Mutsu. Below are descriptions of both from the New England Apple Association’s blog.

Ripening in mid- to late September, Spencer is a conical apple, nearly solid red-pink in color, with green highlights. Its flesh is crisp, juicy, and more sweet than tart, though less sweet than its Golden Delicious parent (Spencer’s other parent — surprise! — is McIntosh). Spencer is an all-purpose apple, especially good in pies and sauce. It does not have a lengthy storage life.

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They make outstanding sauce and cider. Also known as Crispin, Mutsus have a sweet, light flavor when cooked, and hold their shape well. An excellent dessert apple, they are also especially good in salads.

Mutsus are a late-season apple ranging in color from greenish to yellow, with an orange blush. Their firm, juicy flesh is creamy white to pale yellow. They can grow quite large (a pie made with Mutsus may require as few as three apples).

Mutsu has its origins in Japan, from a Golden Delicious crossed with an Indo, a Japanese seedling, in 1930. It was introduced in the United States in 1948.

I ate these apples raw and loved them both. There was no side-by-side comparison, so I can’t describe them that way, but they were sweet enough for me and super juicy.

The plan is to make Apples 2 Apples a continuing series of posts about apples, so we’ll see how it plays out. Plus, there may be a surprise announcement to come!

Can your inner child come out and play?

giant chess pieces in park to playRemember when you were a kid and your friends would randomly stop by your house and ask if you could come out and play? And you would. Just go out and play.

At least I did. It was such a simple thing. No coordinating schedules. We’d let our parents know and off we’d go.

Riding our bikes. Swinging on the swings. Climbing on the jungle gym. Running around. Playing hopscotch. Jumping rope. Sliding down the slide. Swimming in the pool. And so much more.

It was just fun and simple and I must admit that my inner child misses being able to go play. I’m not the only one, because it seems that more of us adults are taking time out to feed that playful and creative side of ourselves.

After a tough day at work, a co-worker and I were talking about plans for the evening. She was going to buy some art supplies and paint with her boyfriend at home. Not painting the house or the walls. But painting on a canvas just for the heck of it. To unwind at the end of the day with some creativity.

The next day I was so curious about how it went. They had a lot of fun and she took some pictures on her phone that she shared with me. They looked great!

Many businesses now offer places where you can go and paint and craft in groups, as I wrote about a few years ago. But you have to pay and that can be a luxury that some of us cannot afford too often. I thought it was brilliant to just set up paints and have fun painting at home. I used to love doing that at school and at home after school when I was a kid. I plan to do this myself and maybe try it with some friends.

Apparently now adult coloring books are the rage. They are flying off the shelves and becoming best sellers. reported on the trend recently.

“We cannot print them fast enough,” said Amy Yodanis, Quarto’s head of marketing. “We are getting orders of 60,000 at one time from some of our biggest retailers.”

There are coloring clubs and coloring contests. Parade magazine devoted a Sunday cover to the trend. Dover plans a national coloring book day on Aug. 2.

“People are stressed and anxious all the time,” said Jeannine Dillon, Quarto’s publisher. “Coloring is a way to calm down and unwind at the end of the day.”

The coloring books sound pretty fun to me and I wonder how many people will be coloring on August 2nd to celebrate national coloring book day.

Not everyone is into coloring or painting. Just like when we were kids. Different people like different things.  Some friends of mine went to tennis camp this past weekend, as they have done each year for several years. There are cooking camps and writing vacations. There are yoga summer camps too.

In light of this new back to childhood trend, it makes sense that a new long-lost Dr. Seuss book is being released.

What Pet Should I Get goes on sale this Tuesday, July 28th. I’m sure lots of grown-ups will be reading along to find out the answer to the question.