On days like this when it can't decide whether it is snowing or raining freezing rain and it's dark and you have to wear 10 pounds of clothing to keep warm if you're going out and you think the weather will never be better, it's nice to know that in other parts of the world it is sunny and wonderful.
It's summertime in Buenos Aires, where my brother lives.
It's sunny and warm in Johannesburg where my friend Sharon Lurie lives.
In Israel, the first of the fruit trees are beginning to bud, the first hopeful sign of the renewal of the life cycle. Soon everything will be in full bloom. This is worth celebrating and, in fact, that is what the Jewish holiday of Tu B'shevat is all about. Celebrating a new year of trees, plant life, fruits and vegetables, the earth in all its bounty. It starts at sundown on February 3rd this year.
On Tu B'shevat it is traditional to eat fruits, vegetables and grains.
For those of us in places like Connecticut, where I live, and where it's cold and gloomy and the only thing blooming are the orchids on my kitchen windowsill, I'm thinking about celebrating with Baked Apples. To me, this is a celebratory dish because it is so easy to cook, so comforting and so tasty.
Here's one of my latest recipes:
Baked Apples with Dried Fruit and JaM
- 4 large baking apples
- half a lemon
- 1/4 cup chopped dates
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries or raisins
- 2 tablespoons raspberry or strawberry jam
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil, optional
- 1 cup mango juice
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Wash the apples and remove the core with an apple corer or small knife, leaving about 1/2” of the core on the bottom. Peel the apples halfway down from the top and rub the peeled surfaces with the cut side of the lemon. Put the apples in a baking dish. Mix the dates, cranberries and jam. Stuff this mixture into the apple hollows. Sprinkle the apples with cinnamon. Dot the tops of the apples with equal amounts of coconut oil. Bake for 20 minutes. Pour the juice over the apples. Bake for another 35-40 minutes, basting occasionally with the pan juices, or until the apples are tender. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Makes 4 servings