CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's exciting to visit the local markets and smell the subtle perfume of freshly picked apples. In fact, the local apple harvest is one of the greatest treats of fall.
The crunch of a colorful apple satisfies like nothing else. Eat them out of hand, slice them into a salad, chop them into a yogurt parfait. Take one to the teacher.
After all, as they say, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." What is it about apples that can help us avoid illness? A quick Google search lists countless health benefits, including fresh apples' high levels of antioxidants and their positive effect on heart health. Crunch on!
Fresh apples are fabulous and it seems like my family can eat them by the bushel. When they are so abundant, it's a great time to load them into your diet.
Apple 'donuts' are a favorite snack at our house. You thinly slice your apples crosswise and remove the circular core from the center. Oila! No frying, no sugary coating. Just crunchy apple goodness that looks like a donut. All credit here goes to my brilliant husband for inventing this remarkable treat.
There are fascinating cultural events involving the apple harvest. Lots of fall festivals feature the old-timey tradition of apple butter making. Huge steaming kettles of apples, sugar and a bundle of cinnamon stew over an open fire for hours and hours. Everyone gathers for a chance to stir and inhale the intoxicating aroma as the kettle bubbles. The elixir is bottled up and shared among generations.
And then there are apple desserts. Choosing can be tricky -- nutty, crunchy apple crisp? Pandowdy? Brown Betty?
I have to confess, I was raised on homemade apple pie. My mom could peel an apple in one fell swoop, dropping snakelike peels onto the cutting board. Then she magically cuts each apple into identical wedges, all while carrying on a delightful conversation or giving orders on how to roll the dough. Her beautiful two-crust pies are prize-eligible.
I guess my sister got the blue-ribbon pie gene. I was visiting her recently and upon arrival she presented our sister's birthday dessert: You guessed it. First bite, I declared, "This is the best apple pie I have ever tasted!" (Don't tell mom.) She shared her recipe and I am happy to pass it along.
@tag:<t0>April Hamilton has always said, "Cooking is fun!" She shares her easy, practical recipes for delicious food through her cooking classes for kids and families. April's husband and three daughters help with testing and tasting in their Charleston kitchen. April would love to hear from you: Email aprilskitchencoun...@gmail.com.
Apple Crumb Pie
5-7 tart apples
1 9- or 10-inch unbaked pie shell (great recipe here)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar (white, brown, or mixed)
3/4 cup flour (1/2 cup unbleached and 1/4 cup whole wheat can be good)