I wish. While apples are baking in the oven read Michael Pollan’s article from Sunday’s New York Times. I’ll say right up front that it’s long, nine pages, but it’s a doozy, an open letter to the next president, the next Farmer in Chief. Maybe you’ll just read part of it, or skim quickly through, or read every word. If you’re interested in food, sustainability, the politics of food, the next administration, health care, minimizing dependence on fuel, feeding the world . . . take a few minutes to read or skim this article. You’ll be moved by the depth of information and possibility that Pollan puts forth regarding global food production and security. Farmer in Chief article, NY Times Magazine, Sunday Oct. 12th (There’s a short excerpt at the end of this post.)
He says that food is about to demand our attention in a whole new way, so before you dive into the article get some apples into the oven. The wafting essence of baking apples is soothing, and when you’re done the apples will be waiting for you. You’ll have spicy baked apple to feed your body and soul, Pollen’s ideas about world food culture to feed your mind.
If it looks like my baked apples exploded, well they sort of did. I didn’t exactly follow the recipe’s recommendation for preferred apples, Gala & Golden Delicious. I know better, but decided to use what’s in my backyard and they were delicious in spite of looking a little askew on the plate. This is a new baked apple for me, inspired by a recipe at Gourmet.com. As with most baked apples, this is simple to make, with the added crunch of caramelized nuts on the side and a dollop of honeyed yogurt.
Kids love to make and eat a baked apple. It’s gooey and scrumptious, and on the dessert spectrum a pretty healthy option.
Baked Apples with Caramelized Nuts & Yogurt Recipe
Preheat oven to 450º. Cut two apples in half and remove cores. Melt ½ tablespoon butter and ½ tablespoon sugar together in an oven proof pan. Add a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg if you like. When sugar is bubbling add the four apple halves, face down. Leave them alone and let them sizzle away on medium heat for one or two minutes, then put apples directly into the hot oven and bake for about fifteen minutes or until tender.
While apples are baking make caramelized nuts, using walnuts, filberts, pecans whatever you have on hand, whatever is local. Put ¼ cup sugar and a pinch of salt in a heavy saucepan, medium heat. Let the sugar melt. Stir only occasionally with a fork. It will begin to bubble and turn a deep amber within a couple of minutes. Watch it closely and remove before the whole things bursts into a mass of bubbling burnt sugar which produces burnt caramel. Not desirable. Guess how I know. My second attempt resulted in a proper caramel, unburned. Remove from the heat and immediately toss in ½ cup of the toasted nuts, toss to coat and then pour it all out onto a baking sheet. Caramelized nuts will cool and become crispy in about ten minutes.
Remove the fragrant softened apples from the oven, drizzle with honey, put a dollop of honeyed yogurt on top (or cream in any form), and sprinkle with the nuts. Let this baked apple ease you sweetly into contemplating the reform of global food production.
Farmer in Chief, Dear Mr. President-Elect, . . . there are reasons to think that the old approach won’t work this time around; for one thing, it depends on cheap energy that we can no longer count on. For another, expanding production of industrial agriculture today would require you to sacrifice important values on which you did campaign. Which brings me to the deeper reason you will need not simply to address food prices but to make the reform of the entire food system one of the highest priorities of your administration: unless you do, you will not be able to make significant progress on the health care crisis, energy independence or climate change. (An excerpt from Michael Pollan’s NY Times article, “Farmer in Chief”.)