It was Agatha Christie who first introduced me to the gardening catalogue. Being Agatha Christie, she naturally made it a harbinger of sudden and mysterious death (you’ll have to read The Thirteen Problems to find out how).
Of course, gardening catalogues were nothing new in 1932, when the book came out. The first ever was, according to Wikipedia, produced by an Englishman in 1667, back when Charles II was ruling Britain, Louis “l’etat c’est moi” XIV ruling France, and the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb (son of Mumtaz Mahal, as in Taj Mahal) ruling the Indian subcontinent.
You’ve probably all seen the magazine-type articles which promise to tell you what clothing style is right for you. You may have taken the quizzes, or even tried to follow their advice. But the problem, I find, is that they have a limited number of stereotyped options: French chic, bohemian, avant-garde, glamorous… For some reason “time-travelling Anabaptist” never makes the list.
As it is with clothing style, so also with garden style – including, alas, an increasingly rapid change in fashions. Suggested styles may include cottage, Mediterranean, formal, Japanese, coastal, prairie or post-modern (plants optional). But again, what if you and your dream garden don’t fit neatly into one of those boxes?
If I had a dollar for every time I found a recipe which called itself ‘simple’ but was actually simple only to those with larders like specialty stores and a mis-spent youth watching food-related television, I would be… well, marginally more plutocratic than at present.
This baked apple recipe, however, actually is simple. It has few ingredients, many of them optional or variable, and the processing required is minimal. Nor will it have a noticeable effect on your power bill as it does not require an oven to be heated, thus greatly speeding up the whole process.
First, catch your apple – the more or less compulsory part of the recipe. In my case, it is a Bramley from the back garden. Ballarat apples are also suitable (albeit less fluffy once cooked) or, probably, any other kind of cooking apple. I haven’t tried this with any but the two apples named, as this is an unspectacular two-person kitchen, not the National Baked Apple Research Laboratory. Which, I’m sorry to tell you, is not a thing.