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Apples, the jewels of fall

It’s early October. I’m standing by an overloaded apple tree that has clusters of blushing globes, moderately large, with an inflamed tone that fades to rose. A close look reveals their streaked underside canvas that features the primary colors of red and green – not to be ignored are the spectacular hues of pink and lime. On these delicious spheres are many colors waiting to be featured as bridesmaids’ dresses.

We all know that getting bridesmaids to the church on time is important but getting apples from the tree to our kitchen on time is also important. When is the perfect time to harvest apples? Do you wait until the first frost? Many claim apples are sweeter after a cold snap and the longer they remain on the branch, the richer their color and taste becomes.

My dad enjoyed apple trees and planted several of them in his lifetime. His rule was to wait until the first frost and then start to harvest. This later harvest sometimes meant that apples could be left on the tree because mother nature can turn quickly cold and time for picking simply ran out. There is a beauty of seeing a ruby red ball on a blanket of white and birds enjoy them as well.

These days I pick apples as soon as they are deeply red and often this can be before the first frost. This allows for plenty of time to simmer apples on the stove – who doesn’t like this scent? Apple crisp, pies and bars can be enjoyed in early autumn. I will admit that apples after the first frost are sweeter but waiting to harvest all of them at the last minute is frustrating. So now you know what I think about those apples.

Haralson apples are a favorite apple to be grown here in North Dakota, and they do well with our weather conditions. The Haralson apple was developed at the University of Minnesota in 1913. These apples are a great choice for pies, eating and cooking. Here in North Dakota we tend to like things that are easy to deal with as well as a multi-purpose variety – this is Haralson. These apples turn a beautiful red and their round-conic shape makes them perfect to place in a copper bowl as your fall centerpiece.

It is fun to try different apples that are available in the grocery store. Granny Smith is another favorite – pale green, fairly tart, crisp, juicy and certainly all purpose. Have you tried a Winter Banana? I see them from time to time here in the Midwest. They often large, clear waxy yellow skin with a pink blush; mildly sweet, medium crisp, juicy and perfect eating. Their color can benefit you, for example, if things are dull in the office at lunch time. Bring a Winter Banana apple and munch on it while wearing a deep purple sweater. The impact of this complimentary color scheme will showcase you as fashionable, confident and can explain why the off color on the company logo drives you crazy.

Remember the adage, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” This may have gone into the same bin as “never wear white after Labor Day” but we should be reminded that this fruit is a source of vitamins A and C, potassium and phosphorus. It is also low in sodium, calories and carbohydrates, and contain cellulose (natural fiber). I learned this first from my mom who was nurse and it was well repeated when I enrolled in the Independent Living class taught by Miss Faye Miller at Underwood High.

The recipes that follow will help you in making the most of autumn’s abundant supply. If you do not have your own apples, never fear because the grocery stores are loaded with McIntosh, Red Delicious, York, Gala, Jonathan and Winesap – just to name a few. If you happen to be a non-recipe person, great! Apples work without recipes such as thinly sliced apples in a salad, on sandwiches, and fondue dips. Get involved with apples! They teach us to cherish the wonders of nature; their inexhaustible and marvelous variety reminds us that apples are like people: some mild, some subtle, some intense, but with all these differences, each one has something good to offer.

Danish Apple Bars

Crust:

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup shortening

Milk as needed

1 beaten egg yolk

Filling:

1 cup of crushed cornflakes

8 large apples, pared, sliced

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 egg white, beaten

Frosting:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

3 tablespoons cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

Sift together flour and salt; cut in shortening until crumbly. Add enough milk to egg yolk to make 1/2 cup. Add to flour mixture, blending until moistened. Divide dough almost in half, making one section slightly larger than the other. Roll out larger portion; cover bottom and sides of 15x10x1-inch jelly roll pan with dough.

Filling: Sprinkle crust with crushed cornflakes. Arrange apples slices over the top, they should be slightly mounded. Combine sugar with cinnamon; sprinkle over apples. Roll out remaining dough. Fit over the top of apples. Moisten edges of dough with water and seal. Cut steam vents in top. Brush with stiffly beaten egg white. Bake at 375 degree for 1 hour or until golden brown. Frost while still warm. If serving with ice cream, you might leave bars unfrosted.

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