My family doesn’t “do’ Thanksgiving. At least not in the traditional sense of gut-busting feasts of turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce, lazy football-watching and messy family reunions.
But there is one tradition we do every year during the Thanksgiving long weekend: apple picking. My family retreats to the Eastern townships, always to an orchard near where my father was raised (he likes to claim he was born in an apple orchard. While I’m not sure if that’s true, I’d kind of like it to be.)
It’s refreshing to be out in a quiet apple orchard, with the crisp autumn air and the trees ablaze in yellow, red, and orange. All you do is look for the biggest, reddest apples to pick and eat a few along the way. It all gets wrapped up neatly with a picnic lunch and a drive home along the scenic route.
This year, we hauled in 75 pounds of apples, along with 4 litres of apple juice, some crabapple jelly, and a dozen doughnuts “a l’ancienne.” Even if you’re an avid apple eater, like my dad, you’re likely to have an overload of apples when you get home from apple picking. Which is perfect, because that leaves you with a whole bunch of apples to work into a plethora of dishes, ranging from pies to cakes to applesauce.
While apple-picking season is all but wrapped up, if you still have some apples lying around, or if you pick some up at your local market, here’s an easy recipe for apple betty. It’s a nice substitute for apple pie, if you don’t want the hassle of making pie crust, or having to buy one pre-made.
I took this recipe from my mother’s beat-up, but wonderful, Better Homes and Garden New Cookbook, circa 1973.
* 4 cups sliced pared tart apples of one 1-pound 2-ounce can pie-sliced apples, drained
* Â¼ orange juice
* 1 cup sugar
* Â¾ cup sifted all-purpse flour
* Â½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
* Â¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
* Dash salt
* Â½ cup butter
1. Place sliced apples in a buttered 9-inch pie plate.
2. Sprinkle the apples with orange juice (it’s to keep them from going brown.)
3. Mix sugar, flour, spices and salt.
4. Cut in butter to dry ingredients (you can use a pastry knife, or take two knives in one or each hand, and just “cut’ the butter in.)
5. Sprinkle the butter and dry ingredients over the apples.
6. Bake at Â°375 for 45 minutes until apples are tender and the topping is crisp.
Serve warm, with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.