The temperatures have taken a dip around here and Autumn is in the air -- a very welcome change of pace from the stifling heat of this summer. Tonight there is even talk of a light frost, which seems a little early for us, but we'll take it. And add some rain to our order please!
Our pond, which we really and truly want to call a lake, is shrinking before our eyes. Definitely a pond now! Not quite down to puddle size yet, but alarmingly low. I don't doubt that the fish are beginning to panic a bit too, as they swim in smaller and deeper circles to find food.
Up here on dry land though, we are thinking about apples. The trees in the orchards of Southern Illinois are loaded with them this year! I have never seen the branches so heavy with fruit as they were when I saw them just as harvesting was beginning.
With our reunions behind us and the next wave of house guests not due until next week, we spent a little time yesterday with friends out at their country cabin. The distinction between country, as in sparsely populated, and "out in the" country, is one appreciated by natives to this area. Out-of-towners would think of this whole area at the bottom of a flyover state as country, and that's OK with us!
But I digress!
We road all around the fields and woods in the golf-carts-on-steroids that so many people with some acreage seem to have. Very handy if you have a few hundred acres and need to survey the land occasionally. Or find the best spots for foraging. Another sure sign that summer is behind us -- gathering nuts and berries for winter. We scored a big bucket of hickory nuts, so I'll be foraging for recipes next.
In the meantime, my friend Nancy made this delicious and very easy apple cake for the last dinner meeting for our reunion committee. We all hoovered it up and licked the crumbs off the plates, so I thought it would be perfect to bake and share with our friends yesterday. The cool, clear, windy day in the country was just perfect for apple something.
The cake, exactly as Nancy made it, was wonderful, but I added a bit more vanilla and cinnamon -- just because I could, I guess. Bake it in a 13 x 9-in. pan and cut it into generous squares. The texture is kind of like a thick, chewy brownie -- dense and moist and studded with chunks of pecans and apples. Serve it with ice cream or whipped cream. Next time I'm going try it with a dollop of my favorite thick and creamy Greek Gods Honey Yogurt!
How nice to find a dessert that is simple to make and so perfectly seasonal for this time of year.
I give it an A+ for apple-y autumn-y goodness.
Bonus points for anyone who can identify the variety of apples in the picture!
(Inspired by a recipe from my friend Nancy)
2 eggs, well beaten
2 cups sugar
1½ cups vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
3 cups peeled and diced apples
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, cream together the eggs, sugar, vegetable oil and vanilla; set aside. In another bowl, mix the flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Stir diced apples and chopped pecans into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Mix contents of both bowls together. Bake in greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish or jellyroll pan for approximately 45 minutes. May take several minutes longer in the jellyroll pan and the texture will be like brownies.