Some apples look amazingly delicious — plump and juicy and perfectly unblemished. So dreamy, it looks as if it was just harvested today and you can faintly smell the crisp fall air in it. You take a bite. And you wish you hadn't.
And then you curse yourself for being sucked in over and over again by grocery giants making bad produce look good. Sound familiar?
Never again. Never again, I pledged.
But now I have a new problem. I just inconveniently increased my standards of so-called “good” fruit, so how am I going to find up-to-par apples? Well, let’s see. I work until 6 p.m., and local markets don’t stay open that long. The farmers' market is only open two days a week, and today isn't one of those days. A coworker tells me Ingles Market — in Black Mountain, NC — is selling local apples, but that's about two hours away. Not a good choice for an after-work endeavor.
It’s 4 p.m. Only a couple more hours until I'm freed from these four walls, and the only thing on my mind is baked apples with cinnamon and sugar. I envision them in my mom’s off-white pie plate that has the curly green ivy painted around the edge. I play out the scene in my mind where I am turning on the oven on 350 degrees and looking for the misplaced cinnamon shaker from this morning’s oatmeal breakfast.
It's now 5 p.m. and I'm finished for the day, so I Google farmers' markets in the area. And bingo! McAdenville Community Market appears right off the highway on my way home. I am hoping against hope they have apples. I check for a telephone number to call, but there isn't one. This, my friends, is what is called a leap of faith.
I have to have those apples.
Nearning McAdenville, NC, I pull off the highway frantically looking for which way to go, and I remind myself there are only two directions. With the windows down, I zoom down the country road past a Baptist church and the old yarn factory. Breaking for the speed limit of 35 mph as I enter the town, I realize that this looks like something straight out of an old movie — the kind of town where people leave their doors unlocked and dogs don’t need leashes.
All of the sudden I realize I'm on Main Street, a proper street name for a town that only has one main road. I hit the only stoplight and take a right and run straight into the market. I walk in and am overwhelmed with joy by this quaint little market. It's an old car-shop building painted white, and it has baskets and baskets of apples, sweet potatoes and pumpkins. Jams, homemade granola and cheeses, jewelry — and even free coffee.
But I didn’t need free coffee because I finally had my apples. I knew I had to get home and find that cinnamon, because I wasn’t going to let anything get between me and my baked apples.
Easy-Peasy Baked Apples
Recipe by Meaghan Mikulas
Makes 4 servings
These baked apples require no crust and only a few ingredients. The apple peel stays on, making it even easier (and more nutritious!). It can be done in a flash and is great warm or at room temperature. It’s even better when served with vanilla ice cream.
• 2 granny smith apples, cored and sliced
• 2 honey crisp apples, cored and sliced
• ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
• ¼ cup brown sugar
• 2 tablespoons butter, melted
• ¼ cup reduced sugar dried cranberries
- Begin by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Core each apple and slice it into about 8 wedges.
- In a deep pie dish add sliced apples, cinnamon, sugar and melted butter.
- Using hands, toss all ingredients until well incorporated.
- Place in the middle oven rack for about 30 minutes. The apples should be soft when taken out of the oven.
- Add dried cranberries, stir and serve!