GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

September 25, 2013

Pat's Kitchen: Apples and a sunny garden wedding

Pat's Kitchen
Patricia Altomare

---- — The sun was shining on this September day when I attended a beautiful wedding in an apple orchard in the Western Mass. town of Easthampton, a lovely small college town in the Western part of the state, where rolling fields, country Inns, and miles of farmland welcome you.

I arrived at Park Hill Orchard to see that the ceremony was to be on a gently sloping hill overlooking the orchards. This is where friends and family were all seated waiting to see Tatyana and Joe become husband and wife.

I have known Joe since he was in the 3rd grade and became friends with my son and came to a Halloween party that I was giving for the kids. That was the beginning of Joe regularly being in my home, my life, my heart; and here I am, years later, watching him marry the woman he loves, and has chosen to be his wife.

From the first time I saw them together I felt that they brought out the best in each other. Tatyana is beautiful inside and out, and still carries her lovely Russian accent so nicely that I could listen to her talk forever.

I asked Joe and Tatyana how they met, and they tell it best:

“Tat’yana and I met at a bar nicknamed “the beer can museum” for its collection of 4000+ plus beer cans. We were both out of our element. I stopped going to bars years ago and so did Tat’yana. She was with a couple celebrating her best friend’s promotion, while I was with my brother who was visiting. But there we were on bar stools side by side.

Tat’yana decided to see what my story was. I immediately shrugged her off as I was enjoying my brother’s company and was quick to pass judgment. But I found myself taking a few looks and listening in a bit. My brother had a better view though, and was totally egging me on.

I remember when our eyes caught, and I think it was over at that moment! We were quick to move to the juke box together. Eventually I passed her my phone number. It was a few days before that call came, but the rest is history…” J & T

I am watching Joe as he sees his bride walking towards him on the arm of her father. She is “bride beautiful” in a satin gown that shines in the sun.

They say their vows to each other as they stand on a platform built by Joe and his father-in-law, designed so that it will eventually become a part of the deck at their future home.

Guests make their way down the hill guided by a roped-off path, reading different quotations about love and marriage along the way, coming to the huge white tent in the midst of the apple trees.

Here is where about 120 people with much happiness and revelry welcomed the just married Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Delaney to the party. And a wonderful party it was; fun music to dance the congo to, watching the bride and groom enjoying their first dance as husband and wife, eating a spectacular meal, and simply having a great time.

Being in the midst of an apple orchard, the theme continued through the reception with apples everywhere. The cake was a beautiful confection of spice and apples with cream cheese frosting between the many layers; and I have never had a wedding cake that was so moist, and as delicious to eat as to look at.

Amongst all this, I learned some “apple history” that is relevant to Tat’yana in particular. Remember I mentioned that she is Russian. There is a remote area in Russia called Alma Ata, which means “father of the apple”, nearly 200 miles from the capital city of Kazakhstan. Botanists believe this is where the first apple trees took root, the apple’s Garden of Eden.

According to a story written in the National Geographic, botanists travel to this area to collect seeds (genetic material) from the thousands of apple trees that grow wild here. The seeds are stored in freezers that serve as a gene bank for apples, and then planted in an orchard in Geneva NY to produce more apples for us to choose from and enjoy.

Back at the reception, guests do not leave without stopping at a large pushcart with five huge bins that contained shiny red apples; macintosh, striped gravenstein, ruby mac’s, Cortland, and paula red’s, and filling a bag to take home and enjoy.

Thank you to the baker, Margarita, for converting the wedding cake into a choice of three sizes so that you can bake this cake at home.

WEDDING CAKE

Moist Apple Cake Recipe – Recipe Courtesy of Margarita Dzyubenko, Event Baker

INGREDIENTS

2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

3 tsp. ground cinnamon

4 eggs

1 and 1/4 cups oil

1 cup granulated white sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 tsp. vanilla

3 small grated apples

1 cup nuts (pecans or walnuts) optional

1 cup raisins (optional

Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 325°F. Prepare two 9” pans or one 12” cake pan or one 9”x 13” sheet pan by lining with parchment or wax paper.

Mix together in a bowl, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.

In a bigger bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, sugars, and vanilla for about minute or so.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and mix for about 2 minutes more.

Add the grated apples. Then add nuts and raisins if desired.

Pour batter in prepared cake pans and bake for approx. 45 to 50 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a skewer, it should be dry when taken out. Cool then fill and frost with cream cheese frosting. Garnish with more nuts.

Patricia Altomare invites your feedback/ letters; patakitchen@yahoo.com or The Gloucester Daily Times, 36 Whittemore St., Gloucester MA 01930.