Debbie Dance Uhrig
We are just about to enter my favorite time of fall, early November. We bid adieu to 80 degree weather and embrace the crisp cool morning air. With the new month comes much planning on the home front. I’ve already started my lists for Thanksgiving at the Uhrig household. I make every effort at keeping the Thanksgiving Holiday managed and well executed. Actually, I work at keeping the entire week effortless and fun, fun, fun. Not only is November my favorite fall month, it also means Thanksgiving, the holiday with my name on it! Only kidding folks, it’s a terrific month.
When I was deciding what to feature this week, I reached for a dish that has been at every holiday dinner I can remember. My mother and my grandmother always prepared candied apples for Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners. When I talk about them amongst friends everyone always asks me what type of apples we used? I usually pause because first of all, as a young child I didn’t know one type of apple from another. We also didn’t have as many apple types as we do today.
But foremost we just made the candied apples from the trees in the orchard. In other words we didn’t go seek out a firmer apple or a sweeter apple we made do with what we had. Same thing went for apple pies. At work folks always ask me what apples I recommend for an apple pie. I don’t always give the answer they’re looking for because of my childhood. We used the apples that we grew and nothing else. OK, so I like 3-4 tart firm apples against 3-4 softer apples.
Remember how your parents always told you, you weren’t paying attention? Everyone thought I wasn’t, instead I was doing just the opposite, absorbing everything my youthful mind could handle. I watched the actions of my parents and grandparents and to this very day I emulate what I learned at the ages of 7, 8 and 9. What I learned has molded me into what I am today. Prepare for winter, organize your household, and learn to live efficiently from your pantry or storehouse. We lived off the land more back then. We also had my grandparents’ farm which was abundant with an orchard, a truck garden, a regular garden, chickens, pigs, cows and milk cows, ponds with fish, asparagus beds, rhubarb and more. As a young girl I thought we were wealthy because of that farm. We had it all and then some. The table was always full and the bright cheerful candied apples ruled.
Today it’s 2015 and the candied apples still reign! I have, however, taken them to another pinnacle. Last winter I used this same recipe and candied pears. After they were all cooked I reserved a bit of the cinnamon sauce and stirred it into 8 ounces of cream cheese. Place the pear face up on a piece of hydroponic lettuce. (The color tone here is marvelous.) Using 8 ounces of cream cheese stir a bit of the cinnamon syrup into the cheese. This should render a light pink cheese. Then fill the center of each pear half, sprinkling finely shredded cheddar over the top.
This is a magnificent presentation.
The great news is you can prepare the pears or the candied apples 3-4 days ahead of the dinner or event. They’re impressive, easy to make, and as always quite economical.
This week I’m giving a presentation on budgeting for groceries and home products. I wish all of my readers could be a part, as there are so many tips to share. I’ll keep researching and you go and grab a bag of cinnamon redhots and make this delicious dish.
1 cup red hots
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
6-8 small apples of choice, cored and peeled
Red food coloring, if desired
Bring the red hots, water and sugar to a strong boil and drop in the apples. Stay at the stove and gently turn the apples in the red hots. When the apples are tender lift them out with a slotted spoon. Place the apples in a clear dish where their colors can shine. Cut a large marshmallow in half and stuff half into the center of each apple. Allow the remaining sauce to reach about 110 degrees on a thermometer. Pour the sauce over the apples and allow it to pool in the bottom of the dish. Chill and serve.
Usually I prepare a double batch of the red hot mixture. Also, on the candied pears there is no need to cook the sauce to 110 degrees. A drop or two of red food coloring in the cooking mixture will brighten the outcome.