Apples Should Be Red by Penny Watson is a book I read months ago, a recommendation based on my love for Victoria Dahl’s older couple novella, Fanning the Flames. I saved it for a Thanksgiving post though because the story takes place in the few days before the holiday. Plus it’s a short, sweet, comedic read that would be a perfect little break from cooking and cleaning and entertaining the guests all of us Americans will have over the next few days.
The book features Beverly Anderson, recently widowed by her philandering, unappreciative husband and Tom Jenkins, a grumpy widower who has become quite insular and surly since the death of his wife. Beverly and Tom are actually in-laws whose children are married. Beverly is staying with Tom over the holiday as her home is fumigated for termites and their children, Karen and John, get a leaking pipe repaired.
The couple are in their late 50s/early 60s, both with life experience, lots of personal history and no end of quirks. Beverly, a twin-set and pearls type, wants to prove that nothing has changed in the wake of her husband’s death and that she is just as perfect and put-together as always. Tom is a curmudgeonly, rough around the edges guy who constantly swears up a storm and delights in getting under Beverly’s skin. A few days in close proximity to one another turn them from two polar opposites thrown together by family and circumstance into friends, lovers and eventually someday, maybe more.
I just loved this little novella. Over the course of the book, Beverly lets go of the pain her husband caused her and her expectations of Thanksgiving perfection, becoming the woman she didn’t even know she could wish to be. And tough yet tender and considerate Tom will please any lover of gruff and sexy alphas. Oh, and it’s laugh out loud funny the whole way through, with lots of wit, heart and tons of sexual tension.
Apples Should be Red is a perfect little plate of Thanksgiving deliciousness and if you haven’t read it, or haven’t read it in a while, I recommend it heartily. And since it has all the hallmarks of a book that will improve with age, I think it might just become one of my holiday traditions.
I love it when romance writers use food as metaphors and Apples Should Be Red has a wonderful example. Beverly begrudgingly agrees to prepare lunch for Tom early in the novel, but what she offers isn’t precisely to his very unfussy taste. Though the egg salad she describes doesn’t ever get made, I’m with Beverly on this one. I like all kinds of crap in my egg salad, unlike Tom.
The most important thing about egg salad sandwiches is starting with good bread. I have a personal preference for challah when it comes to lunchtime sandwiches, but of course you can use anything you like. I figure pretty much everyone knows how to make egg salad, but I’ve included a recipe here for how to boil eggs and assemble it anyway since that’s what I do. Besides, my version is particularly trashed up, almost like deviled eggs on bread.
There are endless ways to make egg salad, of course. You could use green onions or yellow onions in place of the red onion here. Or even chives if you have them handy. Beverly likes dill or parsley in hers and I know lots of people put sweet pickle relish in theirs. For the record, I am adamantly anti-pickle relish so please don’t tell me if you add it to yours. Gross! I also on occasion add bacon to this if I happen to have some left over from other projects.
Finally, in a week when we’re all probably doing more cooking than normal, I wanted to post something easy, light and filling. If you make up a batch today or tomorrow, you’ll have lunch on hand while you’re toiling away. I know I always forget to eat when I’m deep in the Thanksgiving kitchen groove so hopefully having something simple and quick in the fridge will serve as a reminder!
Oh, and serve these sandwiches with sliced RED apples, of course.
Egg Salad Sandwiches
Makes: 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes (Hands on: 10 minutes)
3 tablespoons red onion, minced (about 1/4 of a medium onion)
3 tablespoons of celery, minced (about 1 celery rib)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 generous pinch smoked paprika
8 slice of bread (something sweet and soft like challah preferred)
4 lettuce leaves (Bibb or Boston preferred)
1. Add eggs to a large pot and cover with 1 inch of cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. When water is boiling, remove from heat and cover for 18 minutes. Drain and run eggs under cold water until cool.
2. While eggs cook, add onion, celery, mayo, mustard, salt, pepper and paprika to a medium bowl and stir to combine.
3. Peel and chop the eggs, about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch dice. Add to the bowl with the mayo and mix thoroughly.
4. Add a lettuce leaf and about 1/2 cup of egg salad to 4 slices of bread. Top with remaining bread.
Disclosure: Penny Watson and I follow each other on Twitter.