Dining In

Eat Your Apple A Day!

By Nancy Finch, Food Columnist   

A sad sight in our local newspaper was the picture of an apple tree being uprooted in the orchard of Virginiaís famed Byrd family ó apple growers since 1906.

Harry F. Byrd III of Berryville explained that the apple business in Virginia is in trouble. Byrd cited foreign competition from China as a major cause. When I bought apples for this story, the Romes were from Michigan while the Galas (I had never heard of them) were from Chile.

Another grower said people are not cooking with apples as they once were. They donít have time, she said.

I was saddened to see the uprooted tree because, like many Virginians, I suspect, I grew up with a bushel of apples on our back porch. My mother baked, fried, stewed, apple sauced, apple buttered, apple pied, apple caked and probably more. Cooked apples were a regular on our table and are still my preference as opposed to eating fresh apples.

When in apple country, I have often bought a bushel of apples to follow the family custom. But, I have to admit, Iím not cooking with apples as much as I once did.

My favorite cooking apple for fried apples is hard to find. Those early June Transparency apples make the best fried apples of any. They cook up to an apple sauce consistency. No other apples that I know of cook up like that with skins so tender you donít need to peel. I used to make trips to our downtown farmersí market hoping to find them and occasionally I would ó but no longer, our marketís direction has changed to herbs and goat cheese type products.

So, this monthís column is for all of us who arenít cooking with apples as much as we used to, if at all. Letís help Mr. Byrd and others stop plowing up their apple trees by eating and cooking more apples!

Fried apples, grits, country ham and biscuits! What could be better? You have to break some rules here. Bacon fat is delicious to fry apples in, but oil can also be used. Any kind of apple can be fried, but some are definitely better than others. Apples may be fried with or without skins.

Fried, baked or stewed apples are especially good with pork or ham. And, then, of course, there is apple pie. Weíve tried a new version that is very good.

Fried Apples

Ingredients:

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6 apples

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3 T bacon fat or oil

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Brown sugar, to taste

Directions: Peel apples, if desired, and cut into slices. Heat oil or fat in skillet. Add apples and cover. Cook until juice collects in the pan. Remove lid. Sprinkle brown sugar to taste, about one-third cup. Cook until sugar is dissolved and apples are soft. Serves 5 to 6.

Caramel Crunch Apple Pie

Ingredients:

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Pastry for 1-crust 9-inch pie

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24 candy caramels

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   (about 1⁄2 of a 14-oz. pkg.)

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2 T water

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4 cups peeled, sliced apples

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3⁄4 cup flour

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1⁄3 cup sugar

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1⁄4 t ground cinnamon

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l⁄3 cup margarine

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1⁄2 cup chopped walnuts

Directions: Heat oven to 375˚. Roll pastry to 12-inch circle on lightly floured surface. Place in 9-inch pie plate. Turn under edge. Flute. Melt caramels with water in heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently until smooth. Spoon apples into crust. Top with caramel sauce. Mix flour, sugar, cinnamon. Cut in margarine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in walnuts. Sprinkle over apples. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until apples are tender. Makes 8 servings.

 

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