Arkansas Black Apples

This morning I found one of my favorite apples for sale at the Sacramento Farmers’ Market. It’s called Arkansas Black. I was first introduced to it about fifteen years ago at the Davis Farmers Market. Ever since then I keep a watch out each fall for it’s brief, but welcome, return. Evidently there aren’t too many farmers raising this variety, which is said to be a direct descendant of the Winesap and originated in western Arkansas in the mid-19th Century. Thanks go out to whoever brought it to California’s fertile soils. They obviously had good taste when it came to apples.

The Arkansas Black is a large, late season apple with a distinctive dark red skin encasing yellow flesh that is firm and crisp with a tart aromatic flavor that mellows as the apple ages. Generally a very dark red on the tree, occasionally with a slight green blush where hidden from the sun, the apples grow darker as they ripen, becoming a very dark red or burgundy color. With storage the skin continues to darken.

I love just eating them out of hand but they are also good for cider making, applesauce and baking. Here’s a tasty, yet simple, little cake to try them in.

Fresh Apple Cake

2 cups chopped apples

½ cup sugar

¼ cup brown sugar

½ cup oat flour

½ cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon cardamom

½ teaspoon salt

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour an 8 x 8 inch pan. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar and apples, set aside. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom and salt.

In a large bowl, stir together the oil, egg and vanilla. Add, the apples and sugar, mix well. Stir in the dry ingredients, then the nuts. Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 – 35 minutes, or until cake springs back to the touch. When cool,  dust cake with sifted powdered sugar or serve warm with a little scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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Don’t miss this weekend’s Farmers’ Market!

The weather is going to be great this weekend. Do yourself a favor and skip that trip to the mall. Instead, pack up the family and head out to your local Farmers’ Market. The markets will be bursting with entertainment, tasty food, fresh produce and lots of holiday gift selections. Check out my November 18, 2009 and December 10, 2009 posts if you need more inspiration. Annie and her basket will be there. I hope you will too.

Here’s a list of fruits and vegetables that you will find at most Northern California Farmers’ Markets this weekend.

Apples

Beets

Broccoli

Brussel sprouts

Carrots

Cauliflower

Feijoa

Grapefruit

Kiwis

Lemons

Mushrooms

Oranges

Pears

Pomegranates

Potatoes

Scallions

Spinach

Sweet potatoes

Swiss chard

Tangelos

Tangerines

Winter squash

Roasted Pears

baked pears

my version of baked pears

In my reading travels tonight I came upon an interesting blog called Real Food Rehab and on it was a link to a delightful recipe for roasted pears. The recipe was from a blog called the The Improvised Life . A blog about making and creating with whatever is at hand  –  improvising as a daily practice (their words).  Making do with what you have (my words). So the article talks about roasting pears with a bit of sugar, lemon juice, butter and a split vanilla bean, or even using herbs such as thyme. They are baked until they become tender and caramelized, with a concentrated pear flavor. There is a nice list of suggested uses for the finished product. One of my favorites was; served warm in a shallow bowl with creme anglaise, whipped cream, creme fraiche or fine vanilla ice cream and/or a plain butter cookie. On a drizzly evening like tonight that sounds incredibly good. Think I’ll get more than a couple of pears when I go to the farmers market this weekend. This sounds like something that needs to be explored. Here’s the link for roasted pears for sweet or savory improvisations . Let me know what improvisation you came up with.