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An ode to apples

Few foods are as synonymous with Fall as apples (maybe pumpkins!). They evoke images of changing leaves, crisp cool days, and bundling up on the couch with a good book. They remind us of “simpler times” when we carved scary faces, pulled on our craziest outfits, and went on hayrides. And they represent a strong connection to our food culture: hot cider, apple pie, and caramel apples.

When I was younger, my parents maintained a backyard orchard that was filled with apple trees, as well as chestnuts and pears. I remember fondly the joy of poking the apples out of the branches with an apple picker and dropping them into wooden baskets. I remember less fondly the task of pressing them into cider – with arms coated in sticky juice and bees swarming around. Even though I now live in a city, my husband and I have tried to recreate this sanctuary with our three fruit trees. I may not have to climb up in a ladder and poke at the apples to drop them into a basket below (standing on the ground with a bowl suffices), but it’s still a magical experience to pull something straight off the tree and prepare it in the kitchen.

FNM110112_181To be honest, I’ve never been one for baked apple treats, but they still fill me with sentimental warmth. My favorites were my mom’s apple dumplings – big, warm bundles of joy, covered with a gooey sauce (and usually some ice cream). I went hunting for her recipe, intending to share it with our Stockbox readers, but then realized that the first ingredient on the list was “a bushel of apples”. Unfortunately, not even Google could translate this to a more reasonable ratio, so I decided to take on the slightly easier (though decidedly less gooey) version: an apple tart.  This recipe from Ina Garten is an easy and traditional approach. I found all the ingredients at Stockbox, although I cut the sugar in half (you won’t miss that other quarter cup) and switched out the apricot jam for orange marmalade (which was collecting dust in our pantry). To keep it simple, I avoided any fancy arrangements and just arranged the apples in lines – it still looked pretty. And, of course, I topped the desert with a hearty dose of whipped cream, courtesy of Twinbrook’s rich heaving whipping cream. It wasn’t my mom’s dumplings but it was a fairly easy and perfectly celebratory treat – a reflection of all that is amazing about this time of year and worthy of creating some new Fall traditions.

Both Stockbox stores have welcomed the Fall season by stocking up on apples. The selection is slightly different at each store but we invite you to explore the options. At South Park, we’re promoting the new Fall standard: Honeycrisp apples. And at First Hill, we’ve introduced a new take on the yellow apple: the Aurora Gold, a crisp/sweet apple that has already developed its own fan base.  Join us in celebrating these apples and all that you love about Fall.

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