Post # 171 It’s Apple Time!

September 27, 2013 at 2:03 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 171 It’s Apple Time!

When I was a little kid, we seemed to move about every two years.  My dad was a Marine for a long time, so we did move quite often.  We used to live in upper-state New York when I was very young.  It was a great place for a little kid to be in.  I have lots of memories of blistering cold winters, homemade ice forts, snow ball fights, ice skating.  I remember having to wear a jacket over my Halloween costume while trick-or-treating because it was snowing.  I also remember driving over to Vermont in the fall and picking our own apples to last us through the winter.

So picture it.  Here are three small children let loose in an apple orchard and told to climb trees and get apples.  We have two gigantic baskets to fill and all afternoon to do it.  And we can eat as many apples as we want to in the process.  I always climbed as high as I could, trusting the branches not to break.  They never did.  After what felt like a very long time, but could really only have been a half-hour, our basket were filled and we were hauling them back to the car.  This was usually in mid-October which meant that the back porch provided all the natural refrigeration we needed to keep the apples all winter long.

Stepping onto the back porch at any time was like stepping into an apple refinery.  The smell was intoxicating.  We could have an apple any time that we wanted.  Mom served apples with nearly every meal, and every lunch box taken to school had an apple in it.  Round, red and green stripey things, they were the best.  I ate so many apples then, it’s difficult to look at an apple today.  I love apples.  I have a difficult time actually eating apples now.  I do eat apples, but it’s a long time between apples.  Back then, we lived for the crunch and tang of the first bite.  The juice dripping down your chin while your tongue drowned in that exquisite tart-sweet apple flavor.  It was an experience to remember, and never duplicated.  Until you ate the next apple.  As an adult, I get the same feeling with the first sip of wine from a just open and perfectly chilled bottle of chardonnay.  But that’s a different story.

Through the course of the winter, Mom made different things from apples, but they were usually the same things.  We had apple pie, apple cake, apple butter, apple sauce, but not too much else.  Mom cooked what she knew how and not much else.  But we ate it all, and grabbed an apple on our way out to play.

Today, I know about two thousand ways to eat apples.  Salads, puddings, appetizers, vinegars, and on.  Today, I’m going to share two apple recipes that are easy, delicious, and impressive.

Apple and Cheese Appetizer:

Wash your apple thoroughly.  This is going to be served with the skin on so it must be clean.  If there are bruises on the apple, choose a different apple.  You do not want to cut the skin before serving this.  Once the apple is cleaned, cut a very small, even slice from the bottom so the apple will sit upright.  Using a sharp paring knife or apple corer, cut out the core of the apple, then continue hollowing out the center until about 1/3 to 1/2 of the apple is gone.  You should have what looks like the shell of the apple.  Place this in the refrigerator until you need it again.  In the meantime, take 4 ounces of cream cheese at room temperature and using an electric hand mixer, blend the cheese with 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard, 1-2 tsp parmesan cheese, finely chopped pecans, and finely chopped chives.  Sometimes I add a small amount of white wine, but that’s up to you.  When the cheese is ready, remove the apple from the refrigerator and use a small spoon or pastry bag to stuff the apple with the cheese mixture.  Place the apple with the cheese into the refrigerator until the cheese sets, at least an hour.  Remove the apple, and using a sharp, serrated knife, gently cut the apple into sections.  Sometimes the cheese will want to slide off.  Chilling the knife before cutting can help.  Once all the sections have been cut (I try for 8), place them on a platter skin side down and insert a toothpick through the cheese into the apple.  This provides a quick handle and helps the cheese stay on the apple.  Brush lightly with lemon to keep the apples from turning brown.  Return to the refrigerator until ready to serve.  The cheese mixture can be altered to your taste, so if you would like it sweeter, add different things to it.

Easy Baked Apple:  Preheat oven to 350.  Cut four apples from top to bottom.  Using a sturdy metal spoon, remove the core and a small area around it to create a small well.  Spread a tablespoon of softened butter in a baking dish and place the 8 apple halves in the dish.  In a medium bowl, add 2 tablespoons of softened butter to 1/4 cup of quick cooking oatmeal, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of your favorite dried fruits and/or chopped nuts.  Mix together thoroughly to create a crumble.  Even divide the crumble into the apples and place a small dot of butter on top of each.  Dust with cinnamon.  Place in oven and bake 30-45 minutes until apples are soft when pierce, and crumble is golden or dark, but not burned.  Unless you like burned.  Sometimes that’s good.  Serve hot or cold with whipped cream or ice cream.  (My mom would have loved this recipe!)

baked apples


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