Apples -- they are the snack-a-day that keeps the doctor away. Though they are probably blameless, apples also often play the role of Eve's Forbidden Fruit.
With a little bit of added yeast and love, the sprightly little fruit transforms into a truly intoxicating hard cider -- an elixir, it is said, that was the real inspiration for Johnny Appleseed's industrious tree-planting project.
Perhaps first and foremost, the fruit's starring role is as the main ingredient in that ultimate symbol of virtue and patriotism -- Mom's Apple Pie.
But the apple is far more than mere snack or dessert, said Madge Baird, a Clinton-based cookbook author and editor, and produce farmer. Baird has authored her third cookbook, this one in celebration of the humble, homey fruit -- "101 Things to Do With Apples" (Gibbs Smith, 2012).
"I really wanted to include a variety of recipes, because apples are not just for dessert," said Baird. "In many ways they become neutral in a dish, kind of like a potato. They absorb other flavors and blend very well with them. But they also add just a touch of sweetness and tartness."
Baird is both farmer and cook, at heart and in fact.