Susan Vaughan here. I love many things about autumn. I can’t count the number of photos I have of fall foliage. When we were new to Maine, many years ago now, we used to spend Columbus Day weekends enjoying the reds, yellows, and oranges in western or northern Maine.
We drove to lakes or mountains we’d not visited before and stayed in a cabin or inn. October was a bit too chilly for camping in our 1972 VW van, which we’d done for years. Once we rented an old log cabin that had gas lights and a gas refrigerator. I reheated my beef stew on the wood stove.
I love the smells and sounds of autumn too—the smoke of wood fires, the crackle of leavesunderfoot, the yellows and oranges of mums and pumpkins. And right up there with those delights are fall foods, especially dishes made with the quintessential red and green skinned fall apple, the McIntosh, or Mac. When checking on the correct spelling (MacIntosh vs McIntosh), I learned that this apple was “discovered” by John McIntosh on his Dundela farm in Canada in 1811. It was first called McIntosh’s apple, but gradually the shorter version triumphed.
Today I’m sharing two of my favorite apple recipes here. First is a main dish, Pork Chops and Apples, from Betty Crocker’s New Good and Easy Cook Book, fourth edition, given to me by my mother in 1966, according to the year I wrote inside the front cover. The ingredients are simple: 6 pork chops (thicker is better); 3-4 unpeeled apples, cored and sliced; 1/4 cup brown sugar; 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon; 2 tablespoons butter. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Brown chops on both sides in a skillet. Place apple slices in greased baking dish. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon; dot with butter. Top with the browned chops. Cover with foil; bake 1 1/2 hours. The apples and the baking time flavor and tenderize the chops. For the two of us, I’ve altered the recipe somewhat, by decreasing the number of chops to four and increasing the number of apples to 5-6. I think the number of apples can vary depending on taste and the number of chops. I tried the recipe with a pork loin, but ended up with shredded pork rather than slices. Still yummy, though, and an aromatic meal.
A dessert is up next. I’m not much of a baker, but this one is super easy. My One-Dish Apple Pudding is based on a Shaker recipe I clipped from the Bangor Daily News a few years ago. I’ve altered it by adding more spices. Ingredients: 2 eggs; 2/3 to 3/4 cup sugar; 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour; 1 teaspoon baking powder; 1 teaspoon vanilla; dash of salt; 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon; 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg; 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional); 2 large or 3 medium McIntosh or Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut up.
The recipe calls for dicing them, but I cut them in smallish chunks. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 1 1/2-quart baking dish. Mix the dry ingredients together in another bowl. Break eggs and beat well, and then add the vanilla. Stir into the dry ingredients, and then stir in the apples. Mix well. Do not cover, although my photo shows foil there. That was because I was taking it to a potluck. Bake approximately 35 minutes. If pudding doesn’t look quite ready, allow another 10 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. This is enough for 4 to 6, depending on the size of the servings.
The original recipe called for everything to be dumped into the casserole together and then mixed. I found that way made it too difficult to be certain everything was well mixed, and the baked pudding stuck to the casserole. It also called for a full cup of sugar, but I found that covered the sweet-tart taste of the apples. Those Shaker sisters liked their sweets, I suppose.
Do you have a favorite apple or other seasonal recipe? What else do you love about autumn?