Happy 234th Birthday to Johnny Appleseed! Of course, Johnny’s no longer around to celebrate with us, but his legacy of introducing apples to America, especially in the Ohio Valley region, continues.

Born in Massachusetts, Johnny Chapman spent his adult life wandering what was then just-settled frontier. The popular view of Johnny Appleseed is that he scattered apple seeds randomly wherever he walked when in fact he was an astute businessman. He established apple tree nurseries, hired local caretakers, then returned every year or two to check on them and collect his fees. Although he was known and loved for his kindness and caring (he would accept food or used clothing instead of cash, and gave away most of his belongings to people in need), his estate was worth millions when he died.

September is a great time to be thinking about apples – locally grown apples are now available at the Farmer’s Markets (Washington is the leading producer of apples in America but Iowa is no slouch when it comes to apples – the Red Delicious apple was discovered in Peru, Iowa in 1880; originally named “Hawkeye”, breeding for color and appearance has altered the original sweet flavor) There are also local orchards that offer retail and pick-your-own sales.

Put those apples to good use in applesauce, tarts and – of course – apple pie. Apple Pie Perfect by Ken Haedrich will provide you with an almost endless supply of apple dessert recipes and gives you excellent tips on creating the perfect crust. The massive Pie, also by Ken Haedrich, provides 300 recipes for all kinds of pies – fruit, berry, nut, ice cream. (And wouldn’t you love to be invited over to Ken’s house for supper?!)

Remember – “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. No one said it couldn’t be part of an apple pie!