Apples, Apples, Apples: Sauced, Stewed, and Baked

During autumn and winter, at least in Michigan, we have three staple fruits that aren’t usually too costly: bananas, oranges, and apples. In honor of Alan’s being a doctor (and absolutely loving apples), I’ve changed that old adage about “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” to “an apple a day keeps sickness at bay.” That might be a slight exaggeration, but fresh apples are definitely a family favorite for lunch and snacks, and if I’m looking for a healthy dessert, some form of apple something often makes the dinner menu. Today I decided to share three similar but very simple ways to prepare apples that never fail to please: apple sauce, fried apples, and baked apples. I’ll start with baked apples (the very simplest for small numbers) but touch on all three. All of them have lots of pluses: They are even easier than pie to make, not to mention having only half the calories and all the best (gooey, fruity) stuff!

Baked Apples Ala Mode
(one apple per serving)

Core one apple for each servingPlace each apple  in a dish and top with:
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar (or less if you want)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or a few good shakes of your spice bottle)
1 teaspoon water

Microwave for 10 minutes if you’re in a hurry. If you have your oven going anyway and have time, add 2 teaspoons water, cover them loosely with aluminum foil and bake at 350°F. for 30 minutes or until completely tender. Serve warm with ice cream (and/or whipping cream on top)!

Stewed Apples (aka “Fried Apples”)

Do exactly the same thing as above for baked apples, except place all the apples plus the 2 teaspoons water per apple in a frying pan and cook on medium-high heat until the apples are tender and somewhat caramelized. I have no clue what the real recipe is at Cracker Barrel (where they serve  yummy fried apples), but I was inspired by this restaurant, and “frying” apples this way provides a pretty close replication. (I think Cracker Barrel removes the skins, and you can do that. There are health [and financial] advantages to using the skins. The peels have fiber and vitamins. If you’re one of the many people who are concerned about pesticides on the skins, consider  buying organic, and then you won’t have to worry about the skins being contaminated.)

Applesauce

Last, but not least, is homemade apple sauce. This is pretty close to divine as far as I can tell. It’s basically pie filling without the crust. For apple sauce, I generally peel the apples and cut them into smaller chunks, but otherwise use exactly the same proportions of apples, butter, sugar, water, and cinnamon. Cook them over medium heat in a covered sauce pan, stirring often to ensure they don’t burn on the bottom. For applesauce, you can also use granulated white sugar instead of brown sugar. Either works fine, but brown sugar (pictured above) comes out a darker, richer color. Some apples, like Macintosh, break down and become mushy more easily. Honey crisps taste great but hold their shape more, so if you prefer smoother to chunkier sauce, you may want to use Macintosh, or a combination of honeys and macs. Frankly, I’ve made applesauce out of any and every kind of apples out of my refrigerator, and I’ve yet to get any serious complaints from the peanut gallery. Also, some cooks like to make their applesauce smooth by running it through a food processor, but I don’t like to take the time and think “chunky” seems more authentic for some reason (like real bits of potatoes in mashed potatoes). One of my mantras is: Fuss less; savor more! I hope you savor lots of apples and apple concoctions this winter! Keep those illnesses at bay!  🙂

For I will restore health unto thee,
and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Lord
” (Jeremiah 30:17).

Stitches, Glue, and Binding – How God Heals

Today I’m losing Jon’s entire family, who are leaving for Germany, as well as my “little sister” Lizzie, who’s also visiting right now, so I suspect the blog I’ve been trying to write won’t actually get finished until tomorrow. Meanwhile, one of my girlfriends just sent me this reflection on her first-ever trip to the hospital for stitches, and I thought you might appreciate it too:

The accident happened in just a moment that I wished I could take back.  While pitting an avocado, the knife slipped and I cut my finger more deeply than I have ever cut myself.  With the initial shock, I did not feel pain nor did the wound bleed – for a moment.  As the shock wore off, the blood poured forth and the pain set in.

I knew the cut looked too deep for a Band-Aid to keep closed so I asked my teenage daughter, “Do you think I need stitches?”  She looked up from doing her homework and saw the paper towel wrapped around my finger to stem the now heavily-bleeding wound, and her face turned pale as the blood drained from it.  She asked, “Do you need me to drive you to Urgent Care?”  Then, “Couldn’t you shriek or something to let me know rather than just appearing with a blood-soaked paper towel around your finger so I’m a little more prepared for the shock?”

Thankfully, a friend was on her way over to visit, so she took me to Urgent Care.  She offered, “I can drive you, talk to you and distract you with funny Face Book videos; I just can’t see blood!” When she found out that I had never had emergency stitches before, she suggested, “You can check this off your bucket list!”  “But it wasn’t on my bucket list,” I replied.  She asked, “Don’t you ever write and add things to lists just to check them off?”  Perhaps with tasks, but not this!

As I folded my hands in prayer a few days later, the wound was sore and tender.  When the stitches were removed after 7-10 days, one end of the cut was not laying flat and healing as well as the other end.  A nurse friend who took out the sutures offered to use skin glue and wrap Steri-strips around to better help hold the cut closed.  She said, “We’ll look next week and see how it’s doing.”

When the next week came, she observed, “It’s getting better; it’s healing from the inside.  But I think we should glue and wrap it again to help close it up more and minimize scarring.”  After one more week, the glue and strips were removed and the cut looked much better and well on the way toward healing, although still tender with likely scarring.  In addition to the physical process, God used the incident as an object lesson of how He heals other wounds.  I reflected on Psalm 147:3 – He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Just like my nurse friend described my wound healing from the inside, similarly, God works and heals from the inside.  He does soul work that no one else can do.  Psalm 34:18 – “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  He alone can illumine the darkness within.

I also see how He binds up support from the outside, much like my skin glue and Steri-strips, to help hold us together and protect when we’re wounded.  He gives His Word, friends and family in Christ who aid in support of healing.

Whether the wounds are accidental, self-inflicted, or caused by others, He is able to heal and redeem. Yes, there is still tenderness, scarring, and time needed in the process of healing, “’But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the LORD” in Jeremiah 30:17.  And He promises to redeem and heal fully in the future, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

Will you ask for His help and trust Him to bring healing to your wounds?  Do you recognize the ways in which He binds up and heals with support of others?

“Heal me, LORD, and I will be healed; save me, and I will be saved, for You are my praise” (Jeremiah 17:14).  —Guest writer: Lisa Walkendorf

(Sorry for your accident, but thank you for sharing, Lisa!)