Everywhere I go these days, people are talking about apples. Favorite varieties. Favorite recipes. Quickest way to peel them. Best way to core and slice them.
I hear how one young woman recently baked her mother's recipe for apple muffins with streusel topping.
How a mother of two quickly dips apple slices into lemon juice to keep them from turning brown in her kids' school lunches.
How another brood recently went apple-picking -- one of the many families and individuals who have discovered the joy of picking their own locally.
This time of year, apples are on many people's minds -- and shopping lists.
We cook them into applesauce or bake them into breads, muffins or pies. We buy them to bite into at lunchtime or as snacks. (Is there anything easier to throw in a lunch tote or grab on the way out the door?)
Some people spread them with peanut butter. Others dip them in honey. Apples can be cut up for green salads or to add crunch to a tuna sandwich.
We even decorate with them. I have a few faux Granny Smith apples that are arranged on a plate in our lighted glass-front cabinets in the kitchen.
These look so real I expect someone to pick one up and bite into it.
As for the real thing, I always get caught up reading the little signs at produce stands and supermarkets describing the different apple varieties. "Tart." "Good for applesauce." "Crisp and juicy." "Very sweet and aromatic."
In the produce section of the supermarket I frequent, I once noticed a woman picking out apples like a pro. Soon, we were talking about making homemade applesauce. Or, rather, she was talking and I was listening.
She told me she always uses a mixture of cooking apples in her applesauce, depending on what varieties are available or what she has on hand at home.
There is no reason not to make your own applesauce, she told me.
My guess is that this is a woman who believes that when you eat an apple, you devour it to its core. Waste not, want not.
My favorite fall treat to bake is apple crisp. I use the recipe from the red-and-white-checked Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. The topping calls for rolled oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and so forth.
If desired, serve warm with vanilla ice cream, the recipe suggests.
A very good suggestion indeed. Vanilla ice cream? Definitely not optional.
In fact, a place my husband and I used to visit in Lake Placid in the fall topped our oatmeal with warm apple crisp.
So there we'd be in the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks near the peak of the fall foliage season enjoying what, at that moment, tasted like the best combination ever.
Fall-ish -- to the core.