Article: Autumn in the Orchard
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    Default Article: Autumn in the Orchard

    Apples, apples, apples! So many to choose from and so little time. So which is your favorite? Red Delicious are one of the most popular eating apples, and Golden Delicious run a close second. They're both crispy and sweet, perfect for kids' lunches or an after-school snack.

    Other apples are more tart and better for cooking and baking. Some of our family's favorites are McIntosh, Gala, Fuji, Braeburn, Jonathon, and Granny Smith. All make great pies, breads, muffins, and applesauce.

    So where should you store your apples? In a cool dark place. A good place is in the refrigerator in a well covered container (to keep them from drying out). Make sure to handle your apples gently to avoid bruising.

    Roadside apple stands are a sure sign of autumn. Apple cider, apple pie, apple crisp, I just can't get enough. Enjoy them while they're in season for the best selection and prices, and try a couple of these recipes to enjoy them to their fullest.

    Apple Crisp

    4 c. tart apples, sliced
    3/4 tsp. cinnamon
    3/4 c. brown sugar (packed)
    3/4 tsp. nutmeg
    1/2 c. flour
    1/3 c. butter, softened
    1/2 c. rolled oats

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 8x8-in. baking dish. Arrange apples in the pan. In a medium-sized bowl, mix remaining ingredients with a fork. Sprinkle on top of apples. Bake for about 30 minutes, until apples are tender and topping is brown.

    Apple Bread

    3 cups flour
    2 cups sugar
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    2 eggs

    2 teaspoons vanilla
    1 1/4 cups oil
    2 apples, chopped
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
    1 teaspoon baking soda

    Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients until well blended. Pour batter into 2 greased loaf pans. Bake for about 1 hour.

    Baked Apples

    Baking apples, uniform in size
    1 to 2 tbsp. brown sugar per apple
    1/2 tsp. butter per apple
    1 tbsp. raisins per apple (optional)
    Cinnamon or nutmeg

    Conventional oven:

    Select some good baking apples that are uniform in size. Wash apples and remove the cores, but do not cut all the way down to the bottom of the apples. Peel the upper third of the stem ends of the apples. Place apples in a deep baking dish and put brown sugar and butter in the center of each apple. Sprinkle with cinnamon or nutmeg. Pour 1 c. water around the apples (or to a depth of 1/2 inch). Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes. Serve warm or cold.

    Microwave:

    Wash and core apples. Cut a thin slice of apple off of the stem end. Make a shallow slit around the circumference of the apple about 1 inch from the bottom to keep the skin from shrinking while cooking. Place brown sugar, butter, raisins, and cinnamon or nutmeg in each apple. Place in a glass baking dish and cover with waxed paper. Microwave on high 6 to 10 minutes or until tender.

    Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom who is the author of the Creative Homemaking Recipe of the Week Club Cookbook, a cookbook containing more than 250 quick easy dinner ideas. For recipes, tips to organize your home, home decorating, crafts, frugal living, and family fun, visit Creative Homemaking at http://www.creativehomemaking.com.
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