It's "pick your own" time again, when area orchards invite us to harvest for ourselves. Much as I'd like to be out there loading those bushel baskets, I think I have to stay home and wash the windows.
I fell for it once, the allure of wholesale prices, farm fresh apples and all the rustic charm you can handle. Nobody mentioned the work, which is hard, and the sun, which is hot. Maybe if I had read between the lines, I would have caught on without benefit of blisters and sunburn.
I am grateful that I can pick my apples at the market and save my energy for preparing them.
SAVORY BAKED APPLES
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter or oil
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup hearty brown rice
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 cup water or vegetable broth
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar or Colby cheese
4 large, sturdy Rome apples, cored
Saute onion in butter until tender. Add allspice and stir. Add rice, raisins and pine nuts. Stir to coat with butter and spices. Add water, then bring to boil. Cover and simmer 30 minutes, until rice is done.
Add 1/4 cup cheese and mix well. Slice top off each apple and place in shallow baking dish with 1/2 inch water. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees until apples have softened, about 15 minutes.
Scoop all but half of fruit from apples, making sure apples can hold shapes.
Stuff with rice mixture and top with reserved cheese. Cover and bake 5 minutes more. Remove cover and broil until cheese bubbles and browns, about 1 minute. Makes 4 servings.
SIMPLE SWEET BAKED APPLES
4 Granny Smith or Rome apples, cored
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon mace
Whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or vanilla yogurt
Place apples in shallow baking dish with 1/2 inch water. Combine maple syrup, walnuts, raisins, allspice, cinnamon, ginger and mace. Mix well and spoon into cavities.
Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, until tender. Serve hot or cold with whipped cream. Makes 4 servings.