Thankful

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, more than the beloved Christmas. Any holiday that is a celebration of family, friends, and gratefulness in a non-religious setting is my kind of day. There is something pleasant about celebrating what is present, past, and future with a dinner. Not gifts, shiny lights, and carols. Although Thanksgiving involves less than holidays such as Christmas, the simplicity of Thanksgiving makes the holiday personally more meaningful.

I baked (first use of the oven in over five months!) Apple Cinnamon Muffins the other day, which were delicious and made the house smell of autumn. The muffin batter was thicker than I expected, almost like a wet dough, although the final product was nothing like a cookie. It was a moist, sweet, addicting muffin. I added a cinnamon streusel on top of some of the muffins, which added a bit of crunch. If you prefer your muffins less sweet, make the recipe using 1 1/2 cups of sugar, as opposed to 2.

Recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything

Makes about 18 muffins

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 cup oil

1 Tablespoon vanilla

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 cups peeled, cored, diced apples (around 3 apples)

Streusel:

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon butter, softened

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin pan with paper liners.

Cream together sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla. Sift flour, baking soda, salt, and ground cinnamon. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture and mix until combined. Add the diced apples.

Fill paper liners almost to the top, about 3/4 of the way full.

Mix streusel ingredients with a fork until crumbly. Sprinkle on muffins.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-24 minutes.

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A Delayed Appreciation for Apples

When I was little, I hated apples for no good reason. I believe I even had a slight case of dyslexia when it came to the word “apple” because I always wanted to say “red” instead. Applesauce was okay, but eating a whole apple seemed strange. I loved apple pie, but only when it was served with a disproportionately large scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. My mother baked apples, cored with sugar and cinnamon. These were delicious because the mushy fruit no longer resembled an apple when it came out of the oven, scenting the entire house of autumn. Even though I gradually outgrew my disinterest in apples, I didn’t start eating whole apples until I got to college. Regardless of my delayed appreciation for apples (and yes, I realize that this delay makes me a bit crazy), I still associate  apples with fall, and fall with apples.

It’s hard to believe it’s fall in the Northern Hemisphere while I get to experience a second spring, with 80 degree weather in Australia. I’m not complaining, but the lack of foliage is strange. If I were home, I’d likely be cooking up some Apple Cinnamon Streusel Muffins (Erica’s Sweet Tooth) or some Apple Cinnamon Cookies with Maple Cinnamon Glaze (How To Simplify).

Or perhaps I’d just bake some apples with my mom, and serve them with a big scoop of vanilla bean ice cream…

Now, about pumpkins, another autumnal culinary symbol. Pumpkin, in the United States, means fall. Pumpkin, in Australia, is a staple in foods. It’s not reserved for autumn, or Halloween carvings, or even pies. Instead, pumpkin is a topping for pizza, a filling for sandwiches, and the base for many soups. I like pumpkin, don’t get me wrong, but maybe not on my pizza. I’d rather go for some Pumpkin Gingersnap Cookies (Two Peas and Their Pod) or Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites (Eat, Live, Run). Too bad I don’t have an oven. Thankfully, I could still make some oven-less Pumpkin Gnocchi (Shape).