Fall brings apple season and apple treats


An apple crisp is pulled fresh from the oven.
By : 
Iris Clark Neumann
Food for the Neighborhood

 

I've always enjoyed apple season. When my kids were still at home we'd make a weekend trip to La Crescent for an annual apple experience.

The boys would pick their favorites after taste testing and we'd stock up on eating apples. They liked tart, crisp apples the best.

Now, I can buy apples from Lee at the Eyota Farmers Market. His apple trees are older, so he doesn't have some of the newest varieties, but he has plenty that I like. Softer apples like Mackintosh are great for cooking up a batch of applesauce.

Big Firesides are a good choice for drying slices sprinkled with cinnamon. These snacks are a favorite of both the grandkids and their parents. I bag them up in small zippered sandwich bags, and set them in a basket on my counter-top.

Cortlands are my favorite for pie baking. They are crisp and when baked, hold their shape. They are also great for making apple crisp, and although one still has to peel and cut the apples, it's a lot easier than having to roll out pie crust.

My first husband, Ross, really wanted me to make apple crisp for him. I still have a recipe he'd scratched on some recycled work paper in his scrawling handwriting. He had gotten it from someone at work. It was for a BIG batch of apple crisp and one was instructed to fill a 9-inch by 12-inch pan two-thirds full of sliced apples. The crust on top included over a cup of shortening.

My favorite food story about Ross was how he loved potato salad. A work related picnic was being held at our farm. He told me how he'd gotten two of the cooks committed to bringing potato salad.

The day of the picnic was beastly hot. One of the women came with a couple cans of pork and beans, wanting to heat them up on my stove. She said it was too hot to make potato salad.

The other one came with a watermelon, which she'd decided to bring because of the weather.

And no potato salad. Likely no one made apple crisp that day, if they didn't want to cook potatoes, they surely were not heating up their ovens either.

It is hard to believe it's been over 31 years since his death.

As I was looking through a number of apple crisp recipes, I found one claiming to be “old-fashioned” apple crisp. It used flour in the topping and no rolled oats. At least Ross's recipe included oatmeal.

Tonight, I made apple crisp, an updated version with just enough sugar to allow the apples to still taste like apples and just enough butter to make the oatmeal topping crispy.

I slept in this morning after we had a really cold and windy night at our Tuesday market (at least it didn't rain). Still lying in bed this morning, I thought about making pasta salad, because I like having something in the fridge ready for an easy meal, along with at batch of apple crisp.

The illness I mentioned in my last column hung with me for over a week before I went to the doctor and came home with a prescription to heal the infection. I had been sick for two weeks by the time I started feeling better.

So I have gotten behind in my gardening and housekeeping. Now, although I feel better, I heard on the radio the first frost may be coming soon. I am not ready for that. There's a whole process of re-potting, preparing plants to move inside, and deciding which ones not to save that I haven't started.

After the last round of heavy rain, my basil plants reacted by getting mildew on the undersides of their leaves. Many plants drooped their leaves and died as a result, just when I thought I had an abundant supply for freezing pesto or making basil-favored salt.

Fall is definitely in the air now (and winter is coming too).

It's been a busy summer, so much so that I've dropped a few pounds, and a pants size.

Before my favorite shopping store closed because of bankruptcy, I got a last bag of clothes, including two new pairs of smaller jeans.

I was leaving the doctor’s office and standing in the elevator with an older gentleman. He nodded at my pants and said it looked like someone had shot a gun with paint in it at them.

I laughed and said I'd imagined the jeans were stylish. Apparently he was not impressed with the patchwork of denim, some printed with pink flowers and some plain.

Later, at a grocery store, a man commented on my bag of grapes, saying he gotten the same kind the week before and his wife had eaten all of them.

After checking out, a third old guy told me I'd need a pickup truck to take everything home I'd purchased. I looked in his cart and he only had milk, bread and not much else. I'd been thrilled to find a cooking pot to use for blanching vegetables at the cabin and a couple other items that weren't actually groceries.

These conversations reminded me of another gentleman, who always seemed to be out walking his dog when I was setting up the manager's tent at the farmers market. We'd chat and I'd pet his dog.

During our last chat, Dave told me he would be having heart surgery soon. Dave Higgins built my house in 1993 and his wife graduated in the same class from Dover-Eyota as Ross, so I'd met Dave long ago.

But those visits won't happen again. As the pastor who gave the funeral sermon said, everything that could go wrong, went wrong in his surgery.

I miss Dave's casual visits. Thinking of him reminds me that each day is a gift, whether it's another bad weather day for a market or not.

Classic Apple Crisp

4 cups peeled, cored, and sliced apples (Cortland or similar firm variety)

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

Topping:

1/4 cup melted butter

3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1/4 cup flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

Cut up apples into a 8- by 8-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with flour, white sugar, cinnamon and salt. Mix together and form an even layer of apples in the pan.

Mix together topping ingredients. Sprinkle over the apples.

Bake in a 375-degree oven for about 35 minutes.

Serve plain or with a dollop of whipped cream.

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