The versatile apple works well in everything

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 2, 2011

By Sara Anthony Hill
For the Salisbury Post
My great niece, Amber, was standing on tip-toes, her small body stretched to the max to reach a shiny, golden apple just out of reach. This was one of her fondest memories, she said— a family trip to pick apples. She and her husband, Tommy, had recently returned from an eight-year tour in Japan and Germany with the military. Traditions like apple-picking keep a family close and always coming home.
There were 15 of us that Sunday afternoon in September.We all met at in Taylorsville for lunch, then on to the J&A Orchard not far away. My two bags of Stayman/Winesap and Granny Smiths weighed in at approximately 20 pounds each. How many jars of apple butter would that make? Our family bagged at least 250 pounds of apples that day.
Our youngest member, Mason, missing his two front teeth, said his favorite apple was the “Golden Dewicious.” Since that day in the orchard, Mason has become a big brother to a new baby sister. And so the tradition will go on and on.
The eight women in the group are all great cooks, from the newly married, Tiffany, who bakes a picture-perfect apple pie, to her grandmother, my sister, Barbara, whose fried apple pies are something else. The conversation at family gatherings, especially standing in the middle of an apple orchard, soon turns toward — you guessed it — cooking and baking. At a more recent gathering, we were able to sample Cathy’s (my niece) Easy Apple Dumplins. You’ve just got to try this.
When I was young, I remember a cartoon character on television being lifted off the floor and floating through the room, sniffing an aroma that filled the air. That’s how I feel when I smell apples and cinnamon cooking. When I baked my sister’s Hot Sin Apple Bread, I do believe I became a little light-headed. You’ll love the crunchy, cinnamony topping. This recipe, she said, was created by a priest, so I’m sure he blessed it many times before his indulgence.
The Puffed Apple Pancake, a favorite of mine, satisfies almost all the senses: the smell, the wonderful soufflé appearance as you bring it from the oven, and naturally, the taste after you’ve drizzled maple syrup on top. It’s beautiful. The family will think you’ve created a masterpiece.
There’s not a lot I can say about the Apple-Oatmeal Cookies. All you have to do is read the recipe and you start to salivate. Eat one or two while they’re still warm. Oh, my goodness!
At first, the thought of cabbage and apples turned me off. Good ole southern steamed cabbage shouldn’t be violated by adding apples and stuff, and if you’re adding apples — where’s the cinnamon? But if you’re searching for a colorful and delicious side dish for Sauerbraten or pork, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the Braised Red Cabbage and Apples.
I was surprised when I learned that butternut squash is actually a fruit that is chock-full of fiber, vitamin C, potassium and is an excellent source of vitamins A and E. Prepare and use in the same manner that you would a pumpkin. Remove the skin, stalk and seeds, which are not usually eaten or cooked. However, the seeds and the skin are edible after roasting. Like pumpkin, after cooking or roasting, the pulp can be mashed or pureed for soups, casseroles, breads and muffins. Try this great soup, Creamed Butternut and Apple Soup for Thanksgiving dinner.
Well, to the delight of my 16- year-old-grandson, Josh, who was tall enough to reach many of the apples we picked, I made 14 pint jars of Apple Butter, the Hot Sin Apple Bread, the Apple-Oatmeal Cookies, an Apple Crisp and have a few left over just for eating. Apple Butter is his favorite. He asked that I make it in quart jars instead of pints.
Apples seem to be the almost perfect food. They are fat-free, sodium-free, low in calories, contain only natural sugars, no artificial colors or flavors and are an excellent source of fiber. Maybe this was what John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed, was thinking at the age of 18 when he traveled, barefoot and in the snow, from Massachusetts, planting apple orchards throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana. He wanted to produce so many apples that no one would ever go hungry. He died from pneumonia at the age of 71, never another sick day in his whole life. An apple a day — maybe there’s really something to it.
Braised Red Cabbage and Apples
4 Tbs. bacon fat
2 Tbs. sugar
1 small onion, chopped
3-4 C. red cabbage, shredded
2 tart apples, sliced
3 Tbs. cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. caraway seeds
Salt and pepper to taste
Beef stock or red wine
Melt the fat in a large frying pan or Dutch oven. Add the sugar and stir until golden brown. Add the onion and cook slowly until golden yellow. Add the cabbage, apples, vinegar and seasonings. Cook slowly until very tender, about 15 minutes. Add a little stock or wine, as necessary, to keep from sticking.Hot Sin Apple Bread
3 eggs
2 C. sugar
1 C. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla
3 C. plain flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
4 chopped apples
Grease and flour 2 loaf pans. (Sprinkle half the topping mixture into the pans.)
Mix eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the chopped apples to the egg mixture stirring until blended. Add the flour mixture to the other ingredients and mix thoroughly. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour.
1/2 C. brown sugar
1 Tbs. cinnamon
2 tsp. plain flour
1/4 C. butter or margarine
Mix together and sprinkle one half on the bottom and the other half on the top of the bread before baking. Yields 2 loaves.
Creamed Butternut and Apple Soup
1 (21/2pound) butternut squash,
peeled and cubed
3/4 pound Granny Smith apples,
peeled, cored and quartered
(3-4 apples)
4 C. chicken broth
1 (3-inch) stick cinnamon
1 C. half-and-half
1/4 C. butter or margarine
2 Tbs. maple syrup
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
Garnish: sour cream, ground
nutmeg, Cinnamon Croutons
(Tip: wear gloves when peeling the squash to avoid the yellow color from staining your hands. Slice the squash in half just above the rounded portion of the fruit. Cut both pieces in half. You will then be able to spoon out the seeds and peel easily.)
Combine the first four ingredients in a Dutch oven. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes or until squash is tender. Discard the cinnamon stick.
Process half of the squash mixture in an electric blender until smooth. Loosen the lid of the blender to allow the steam to escape after pulsing. Repeat with remaining mixture then return to the Dutch oven.
Stir in half-and-half and the next five ingredients. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thoroughly heated. Serve hot. Yields 9 cups.
Cinnamon Croutons
3-4 C. leftover French bread,
hamburger or hot dog rolls cut
into 1-inch cubes
3/4 stick butter or margarine
1/4 C. white sugar
1/4tsp. cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a jellyroll pan (pan with sides), place the butter in the pan and put in the oven to melt. When melted, remove from the oven. With a spatula, move the bread cubes around in the butter until coated. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle over the bread cubes, tossing until coated. Return to the oven and bake approximately 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir a few times to make sure the cubes brown evenly.
Puffed Apple Pancake
6 large eggs (if medium size
use an extra egg)
1 C. milk
2/3 C. plain flour
1/2 tsp. salt
4 large apples, peeled, cored
and sliced
4 Tbs. lemon juice
5 Tbs. butter
1/2 C. brown sugar,
lightly packed
1 tsp. cinnamon
maple syrup, warmed to serve
Mix together the eggs, milk, flour and salt. Toss the apple slices with 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice. Melt the butter in a 12-inch quiche dish in a preheated oven at 415 degrees. Remove the dish from the oven and lay the apple slices evenly over the bottom. Return to the oven until the butter sizzles. Do not let the apples brown.
Remove from the oven immediately and carefully pour the batter over the apples.
Mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle the mixture over the batter.
Put back into the oven for 25-30 minutes then drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon juice over the top.
Cut into portions and serve immediately with warm maple syrup. Yields 6-8 servings.
Apple-Oatmeal Cookies
1 C. plain flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C. quick-cooking oats,
1/2 C. firmly packed
brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 egg
1/2 C. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 C. peeled, chopped apple
(one medium)
1/2C. raisins
1/2C. chopped pecans
Combine the first 7 ingredients in a large bowl, mixing well. Combine the egg, oil and vanilla. Stir into the dry ingredients. Add the apples, raisins and pecans. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. Yields 4 dozen.
Josh’s Favorite Apple Butter
6 pounds tart cooking apples,
cored and quartered (18
cups — I use Stayman/
5 C. apple cider or apple juice
3 C. white sugar
3 C. dark brown sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2tsp. ground allspice
1/2tsp. ground cloves
In a kettle or Dutch oven, combine the apples and apple cider or apple juice. Bring to a boil, cover and cook 30 minutes stirring occasionally. In a bowl, mix together the sugars and spices. Stir this into the apples, return to a boil and simmer uncovered 11/2-2 hours or till very thick. Important to stir often.
Spoon the thick, hot butter into hot, clean jars, leaving a 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe the rims and adjust the lids. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes for half-pints or pints (start timing when water boils). Makes about 6 pints.
Easy Apple Dumplins
2 large Granny Smith apples,
peeled and cored
2 (10-ounce) cans
refrigerated crescent roll
2 sticks butter
1 C. white sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 (12-ounce) can or bottle
of Mountain Dew
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13 inch baking dish.
Cut each apple into 8 wedges and set aside. Separate the crescent roll dough into triangles. Roll each apple wedge in a crescent roll triangle starting at the smallest end. Pinch to seal and place in the baking dish.
Melt butter in a small saucepan and stir in the sugar and cinnamon. Pour over the apple dumplings. Pour Mountain Dew over the dumplings.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes in the preheated oven or until golden brown.