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!

Afro Flow Yoga: Schoolmaster Hill in Franklin Park

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Afro Flow Yoga ClassThis morning, I finally made my way to a free yoga class in Boston! It was an Afro Flow Yoga® class taught by founder, Leslie Salmon Jones.

The class was wonderful! It was quite a workout and very hot under the bright morning sun. I worked up quite a sweat!

There was live drumming by her husband and co-founder Jeff Jones. Looking over the vast green space, it felt tranquil and what I imagine Frederick Law Olmstead may have hoped for in the future for this space he designed.

Schoolmaster HillIt was nice being in a yoga class where I wasn’t the only diversity. After all, brown people invented yoga, but often when yoga is shown in the media, it is usually very young thin white women who are portrayed. Yoga is far more than that. It is for every body.

In addition to it being a multiracial group, there were people of all ages and several men too.

Stone Walls Schoolmaster HillAs we moved to the beat of the drums, our teacher asked if we could feel the ancestors. I felt warm and happy thinking about those who came before me and thankful for this day and this time.

The drums added a deeper layer of spirituality to the class. While the class made me feel at one with the African Diaspora, the stone walls felt Druid and Stonehenge too. Very ancient. It was fitting that we are still under the influence of a blue moon.

There is a lot of history in this place. Schoolmaster Hill got its name from Olmstead who named it after poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, who was a schoolmaster in Roxbury. He lived in a cabin here, before there was a park.

While he may not have been happy living there, centuries later, on a very warm Saturday on the first day of August, unlike Emerson, I did indeed find a slice of happiness on that same Schoolmaster Hill.