Apples

Last weekend was my birthday and as usual I got treated with apple dumplings. Despite all the nutritious value found in apples that my Grandmother describes below, those dumplings should probably not be enjoyed more than once a year, though they are quite delicious.

October 1982

As my farmer and I sat on the porch this morning eating our breakfast between the dark of the night and the light of the day there was an unmistakable feeling of fall in the crisp air.

The rising wind sighed through the windbreak and rustled the leaves of the little spring- planted cottonwood tree into an early morning song. Gleaming dull gold, the milo field stretched to the south while across the road George Miller’s cattle grazed in the tall Sedan grass, silhouetted in the misty haze.

Four young robins winged in from the vegetable garden and settled in the driveway to busily run about in search of grain, looking for all the world like plump Dutch matrons hustling about their morning chores.

Out west the last of the apples hung high on the tree where they had escaped all my efforts to reach them with a ladder and a grappling hook. The sparrows and the blackbirds are pecking away at them for an early snack.

The apple tree is old and broken and each year we say, “This crop will surely be the swan song for that tree.” It was planted soon after our marriage and for over 35 years has kept the family supplied with apple pies and cobblers, apple crisp and apple sauce, as well as apple dumplings.

The children used to eat so many green apples I just knew they would have a stomach ache, but they never did. This year two small grandchildren took up the green apple eating tradition with no ill effects.

Each April the old tree blossoms into a beautiful halo of flowers and sets on a crop of apples that grow plump and red by August. Then, we begin making applesauce for the freezer.

My farmer and I spend many companionable evenings removing the worms and bad spots from the raw apples, cooking them and pushing them through a colander before sacking the sauce in plastic bags for freezer or, if it is full, canning them.

Applesauce sprinkled with black walnuts or pecans, with light cream poured over the top is a delightful winter dessert after a heavy dinner.

Sliced raw apples freeze well and can be used in any recipe the same as fresh ones. Incidentally a food processor makes fast work of slicing them.

The good news about apples is that nutritionists are rediscovering what your grandmother knew – apples are not only good, they’re also good for you.

Apples are high in fiber. Fiber is the name for a quite a few indigestible substances namely cellulose, lignin, pectin, hemicellulose, and gum. Apples contain lots of pectin.

Quite a few authorities think fiber reduces the incidence of some types of cancer. It is also suggested that fiber may help to protect people from heart disease by its effect on cholesterol- lowering effect on the body.

While this research on heart disease, cancer, and diet is still in the beginning stages and not conclusively proven it looks as if you can enjoy apples with a clear conscience. These recipes make the most of the apple’s juicy, tart flavor.

Cheese Crumble Apple Pie

Topping:

½ cup whole wheat flour

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

5 tablespoons butter

Filling:

5 cups apples, sliced

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 ½ cups shredded Cheddar cheese

4 teaspoons flour

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Make one 9-inch pie crust with a high rim using your favorite recipe. For the topping combine dry ingredients. Cut in butter with pastry blender. Set aside.

For filling, toss together apples and lemon juice. Mix cheese, flour and nutmeg; toss with apples. Arrange this fruit mixture in the crust. Sprinkle with topping. Bake at 375° for 40 to 50 minutes.

Serves 6-8.

 

Apple Dumplings

1 ½ cups white flour

1 cup lard

1 ½ cup whole wheat flour

1/3 to ½ cup cold water

½ teaspoon salt

Mix dry ingredients. Cut in lard with pastry blender until size of peas. Add the smallest amount of water in driblets that you can and still have the dough stick together. Roll out ¼ inch. Cut into 6 or 7 squares. Set aside.

Core and partially peel 6 apples of a large and juicy variety. Then prepare this syrup:

Syrup:

1 cup water

3 tablespoons butter

1 cup brown sugar

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Boil for 3 minutes. Place apples on each pastry square. Fill cavities of apple with mixture of:

½ cup sugar

1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Bring opposite points of pastry up over the apple. Overlap, moisten and seal. Place separately in shallow baking dish. Pour hot syrup around dumplings.

Bake at once at 425° for 40 to 45 minutes until brown and apple is tender. Serve warm with the syrup and Half and Half.

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