TheCrockery

A Catholic perspective on the world and all the good things therein, especially books and food. Literature cum chocolate is the order of the day at The Crockery.

Name:
Location: A Collegetown, Undisclosed Location, United States

No longer a graduate student, Teresa is now a professional know-it-all.

Monday, May 29, 2006

The House on the Rock

Some years ago, I stumbled across this quote from the St. John Vianney, better known as the Cure d'Ars: "A house founded on the Cross will fear neither wind, nor rain, nor storm." It was so striking to me that I made it the motto on a personal webpage.

The house on the cross is, of course, a reference to Matthew 7:24-25: "Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock" (RSV). Vianney, in adapting this Scripture passage, made it clear what the rock was: the cross, the death of Christ. In focusing on the cross as the foundation for life, he established sacrificial love as central to Christian life.

Recently, Pope Benedict XVI gave a "Greeting to Young People" based on that same Scripture passage. Amy Welborn has quoted part of this address at her blog. She focused specifically on the introduction, which spoke of the universal desire for a stable foundation in life. I want to call to my readers' attention a different part of the message: one focusing on what it means to build on the rock of Christ. I liked this paragraph so much that I wanted to adopt part of it as a signature line for message boards. The problem was that I couldn't decide which part could stand alone: I liked the whole thing too much. So I'm sharing it here, instead.

To build on Christ and with Christ means to build on a foundation that is called “crucified love”. It means to build with Someone who, knowing us better than we know ourselves, says to us: “You are precious in my eyes and honoured, and I love you” (Is 43:4). It means to build with Someone, who is always faithful, even when we are lacking in faith, because he cannot deny himself (cf. 2 Tim 2:13). It means to build with Someone who constantly looks down on the wounded heart of man and says: “ I do not condemn you, go and do not sin again” (cf. Jn 8:11). It means to build with Someone who, from the Cross, extends his arms and repeats for all eternity: “O man, I give my life for you because I love you.” In short, building on Christ means basing all your desires, aspirations, dreams, ambitions and plans on his will. It means saying to yourself, to your family, to your friends, to the whole world and, above all to Christ: “Lord, in life I wish to do nothing against you, because you know what is best for me. Only you have the words of eternal life” (cf. Jn 6:68). My friends, do not be afraid to lean on Christ! Long for Christ, as the foundation of your life! Enkindle within you the desire to build your life on him and for him! Because no one who depends on the crucified love of the Incarnate Word can ever lose.

I haven't updated my old webpages in years, and I occasionally think about taking them down permanently. I was a different person then, and I don't know that I have the time or desire to update those pages to show how I've changed. But I still like that quote from the Cure D'Ars. I like to think that this paragraph from Benedict XVI is a connecting link both to who I was seven or eight years ago, and to who I'll be a decade from now. A house founded on the cross need not fear time.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Return of Revenge of the Ghost Entry


Some of you may recall a series I started about ghosts some time ago. At that time, I fully intended to conclude my series with a discussion of the different reasons there might be for human spirits to come to or linger around earth after death. However, I've decided not to do that, at least not as planned. My original plan was simply to share a list from Peter Kreeft's Angels (And Demons): What do we really know about them? On closer thought, this seemed unwise for three reasons. To-wit:

1) This might constitute plagiarism. I should encourage people to buy the book.

2) Even if it's not theft of someone else's intellectual property, it's silly to spend a post just repeating another author's words. I should just encourage people to get the facts from the book directly.

3) I never finished reading the book anyway, so it's hardly fair to report from it.

I think you'll find that last point to be conclusive. I certainly did. But lest you think that I've gotten lazy in my reading, I want to report on a book which I did finish. (It helped that this book was 99 pages shorter than Kreeft's book. [Did I mention that Kreeft's book is only 148 pages long?]) The book which I did manage to read is Begone, Satan! If you click on the link to the left, you'll see that this book is published not by the conservative but sane Ignatius Press, which published the Kreeft book in question, but by the slightly fanatical and decidedly old-fashioned TAN books. If you are familiar with the world of Catholic publishing, that should give you a hint as to what kind of book this is.

To be fair, I want to make clear that I do very much appreciate the work TAN books does in reprinting some of the classic books of Catholic theology and devotion. Begone, Satan!, however, is not one of those classics. It is badly organized, written in a bizarre overly-pious dialect which sounds as if it came from the eighteenth century (sorry Tulip!), and it leaves unexplained a number of the events it describes.

One the strangest facts of this exorcism was that the woman in question was possessed by the spirit of her dead father, Jacob. That's right, her father possessed her. How can this be? Human beings can't become demons, and only demons possess people. . . right?

Since the book in question was from the 1930s, I thought perhaps an older resource might help me understand it. I turned to the trusty Catholic Encyclopedia in hopes that it would help me solve this dilemma. It did not. I did learn that the word "devil" is actually a synonym for "demon," not just the title of the leader of the demons. And, according to the entry on devils, "it is clearly taught that the Devil and the other demons are spiritual or angelic creatures created by God in a state of innocence, and that they became evil by their own act." So one can't describe a human soul as being literally either a demon or a devil: both terms refer to fallen angels.

My hopes that other articles might clarify the matter were in vain. The article on Exorcism states that "Exorcism is (1) the act of driving out, or warding off, demons, or evil spirits, from persons, places, or things, which are believed to be possessed or infested by them, or are liable to become victims or instruments of their malice; " but it doesn't mention whether the evil spirits are always demonic in nature. I did, however, learn a cool new word: "energumen." It means someone possessed by an evil spirit. Use that word well!

So, I leave you with this mystery: is it in fact possible for a human being to be possessed by the spirit of a deceased human being? This may in fact be a Catholic tradition, but if so, I've only heard of it recently. Perhaps one of my readers will know more?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

We do too!! (Or not?)

Over at Evangelical Outpost, Joe Carter has attempted to demonstrate fallacies of the "Godblog Wars" while also (jokingly) insulting his blogging friends. It's all in good fun, and it's pretty darn funny, even if one doesn't recognize all of the bloggers in question.

He doesn't take a poke any particular Catholic bloggers, but he does make this comment about St. Blog's Parish:

St. Blog’s Parish -- With such numbers on their side you’d think the Catholic wing of the Godblogosphere would be primed to invade on evangelical turf like the Bloods moving in on the Crips (or at least the Sharks invading the space of the Jets). But we hear nary a peep out of them. We could even throw out vicious insults—“The Pope wears a funny hat.”--but they wouldn’t even notice since they don't read our blogs. It’s almost like we don’t exist or something. This apathy toward us may explain why we end up squabbling with each other, rather than with those Christians we might have substantial disagreements with. (By the way, he really does. The Pope. His hat. It’s kinda big and goofy.)

So, on behalf of all the members of St. Blogs, I'd like to take the time to say "We do too read what ya'll write!" After all, I read this post at Evangelical Outpost, didn't I? See, I check that blog quite often! Of course, I generally only skim the Yak Shaving Razor posts to see if there's anything useful, and I just glance at the headlines of the longer entries to see if anything big and important is going down. Oh, but I always read the "Ask Joe" posts. Those crack me up.

Yeah, I admit, I don't really read Protestant blogs that much. (With the new-found exception of Christian Book Reviews. That site rocks!) But who can blame me? Those Evangelical bloggers so seldom talk about anything of interest to me. They talk about their own pastors, and their own church problems, and their own theological nitpicking.

And that's the problem I want to talk about today. When I am only interested in reading blogging by Christians of my own denomination, something is rotten in the great communion of bloggers. Let me begin with me. (The best place to start in any criticism.) Should I be interested in the concerns of other Christians? Heck, yeah! Even if their political infighting has nothing to do with the polity of my Church. Even if I think that the entire doctrinal squabble they are engaging in is totally pointless because both views are founded on a basic misconception. Even if the blogger in question doesn't really care about what I think, because he/she thinks I am in a false church. The very fact that these issues are of concern to other thinking Christians means that they deserve at least a brief moment of attention from me.

What can I say: I am the hypocrite of hypocrites when it comes to grass-roots ecumenism. I think the strength of the Church depends on Christians from all different traditions being willing to talk together, work together, and most importantly, pray together. Do I do any of this? Well, sometimes, in a limited way. I worship at my husband's church each week. I attend an interdenominational fellowship group. I had well-meaning intentions to revive a local ecumenical reading group but, sadly, they fell by the wayside.

In general, I think big and perform small. I start things without following through. You'd think, though, that an easy way to participate in this great communal building of the kingdom (I'd rather not call it a "co-belligerancy," thank you; I think that metaphor is limited) would be for me to take a few minutes each day to read what other Christians are saying. I could resolve to do that here and now, but we all know what happens when I resolve things. Well, ok, I know what happens when I resolve things: they don't happen.

So rather than making a resolution, I'm going to lapse into the subjunctive: wouldn't it be nice if I were familiar with blogs from outside my own tradition? Wouldn't it be nice if, instead of merely recognizing names like The Thinklings, I was familiar with their work? Wouldn't it be nice if I actually understood more of the jokes Joe Carter was making about his fellow bloggers?

But, while we traipse around in the lovely world of the subjunctive, let me suggest this: wouldn't it be nice if more evangelical bloggers mentioned Catholicism in positive ways, rather than arguing about whether or not the Catholic Church was a real church, or whether or not Catholics are real Christians? Wouldn't it be nice if sincere and otherwise charitable defenses of Catholicism didn't ever have to be prefaced by "I hate Rome and her lies, but you're going too far when you say. . ." ?

Enough "wouldn't." How about some other contractions? I can't do anything about the rest of the blogosphere. I'm only a miniscule molecule here, anyway, or whatever the smallest speck in the ecochain is. But I am taking seriously (perhaps more seriously than intended) the charge of isolationism. It may or may not apply my co-religionists and co-bloggers, but it certainly applies to me.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

They Stopped Carding Me. . .

Disclaimer: This message is pointless and depressing. It involves neither a recommendation for something to read or directions for something to eat, and it offers no insightful cultural critique. Truly, it does not meet the Crockery standards. However, this will serve to fill up time until I can finish one of the five or six non-academic books I've been reading sporadically, at which point I may have something interesting to say. There may even be another post about demons!

Recently, I was involved in a conversation with an acquaintance who insisted that 27 was a turning point in a person's life. Once you hit 27, you were on the way down. After 27, you became old. At the time, I felt this was absurd. In retrospect, I think that that youngster of 25 was on to something. Though I don't think that 27 is a concrete marker of age, nor a solid borderline between "young adult" and just plain "adult", I think the years from 27-30 are a transition time.

Apparently, liqour laws agree that there is something unique about 27. Cashiers are required to card anyone under 27, which means that when they look at a person with a bottle of wine, they are supposed to be asking themselves not "Is she over 21?" but rather "Is she 27 or older?" So, for years, I was routinely carded when I tried to buy my wine. I fondly told myself that it was because I look so young.

In the last year or so, however, the cashiers have stopped carding me. Apparently, I finally look my age. I have to admit it when I look in a mirror: there are lines there that didn't use to be there. There's a "set" look to my face that it didn't have in the past. I look. . . not old. . . but not young. I look more like a grown-up, I guess. If only I could convince myself that this was a good thing!

Alas, I'm the nostalgic type. I always think that "the way things used to be" is better. I regret most changes. Though you couldn't pay me enough to get me back into a high school building, there's part of me that secretly longs for a second chance to be an undergraduate. This time, I'd know enough to know which subjects I ought to learn. This time around, I'd know which the best moments were so that I could treasure them. (I doubt, for instance, that I will ever again link arms with a group of friends and sing "We're off to see the Wizard!" as I skip down the sidewalk. There are some things that only an undergraduate can pull off.) This time around, I'd take advantage of more of the activities offered by the Catholic student center, and I wouldn't shy away from the invitations of my InterVarsity friends. I'd be an example of ecumenical outreach.

It all sounds good except for the platitudinous catch-22: it takes maturity to recognize a good opportunity, but maturity can only be gained through missed opportunities. And then there's the other platitude that nostalgia would not be so (bitter) sweet if we actually could go back. We always desire most the things which are most difficult to achieve. (I remember that from my honors intro to psych class! Thanks, Professor K.!) If I could go back to my "care-free college days" with my graduate student sensibilities, I'd hate the experience, precisely because of those sensibilities.

So there we are. Or rather, here I am. 27. Cynical (at the moment) but nostalgic in the most sentimental way possible. And no longer being carded when I buy wine. Look: a new source of nostalgia! Now I can look back in longing on the days when people simply didn't believe that I could possibly be 21. Is that a gain, or a loss?

Friday, May 12, 2006

No Workouts in Heaven, Please!

Married life has been good to me, if by "good to me" I mean putting meat on by bones, and if by meat I mean "fat." I have gained a good 20-25 pounds in the two years I have been married. (When you are only 4'11", that's a lot of weight to add!) Some of this is probably due to the fact that I eat "real meals" six or seven days a week rather than just two or three days a week. In days of yore, I'd usually have a lean cuisine dinner followed by a Weight Watchers dessert or a bowl of popcorn. Now I have pasta, more pasta, meat, and bread, with a small portion of veggies on the side to appease the Angry Gods of the Food Pyramid. (Oh angry gods, do not strike me down for saying so: remember how much whole wheat I've been eating! Remember the lentils, and be merciful!)

But some of my weight gain is due to the fact that that I'm now ABD. I'm not making this up. When I was in coursework or teaching, I had to walk to and from the parking lot most days a week. That's a lot of walking. Now, I have to walk to and from the mailbox everyday. That's not a lot of walking. I only go on campus once or twice a week, and I generally only walk to one or two places, rather than wandering from building to building.

I also blame my apartment complex. My old complex had lovely trees and sidewalks just made for leisurely walks. I even saw other people walking. I don't see anyone walking at the new place, and the sidewalks are not very inviting. Further, I had two lovely neighborhoods within walking distance of my old complex. Walking several days a week was a pleasure, not a duty or a trial. Here, I have only a cemetary for walking in. I've not yet decided whether to sink that low.

So, in short, I need to lose weight, and I need to lose it in such a way that I can keep it off. I'm not willing to do a crazy fad diet, when anyone can tell at a glance that my problem is not primarly what I eat (though portion size may be a problem), but how much time per day I spend sitting at the computer or the easy chair, reading or writing. What I really need to do is develop a regular exercise regime that I can actually keep up for the rest of my life, depressing as that may sound.

You see, I hate exercise. I heartily agree with the old friend of mine who claimed that it exercise "is the devil." I used to truly believe that eating "sensibly" was all anyone needed to keep a healthy weight. And I thought it worked for me. What I didn't realize was that it only "worked" because I was in the habit of walking a lot. When that sole outlet of exercise was taken away, chaos reigned.

So I caved in and bought some exercise DVDs. Since I have been a long time fan of walking, I decided to give Leslie Sansone's In Home Walking a try. Amazon reviewers said that it was easy. And it was, in fact, easy- at least, the 1 mile walk was easy. Unlike aerobics, these steps were easy to follow. One got the sense that it didn't really matter if you did it "just right." The disk I have even features Christian contemporary music in the background, rather than pop or rock.

Alas, it also features a little cheesiness. Perhaps it's impossible to avoid that entirely on an exercise DVD? Still, one would hope that somehow out there is an in-home exercise program devoid of perky smiles and stupid sayings. This program, though I recommend it, is not that magnum bonum. In fact, because this particular disk is Christian themed, it may have even greater potential for sappacity, inasmuch as Leslie occasionally bursts into commentary on how good God is. "Raise your hands up! Give a hallelujah if you want!" Indeed. What if what you want is to be striken down by a thunderbolt, now, so that you don't have to face the years of exercise? But I digress.

What truly alarmed me was the new heresy which poor Leslie promotes: the idea that there will be workout sessions in Heaven. Workout sessions in Heaven! Surely this is a heresy! For if exercise is the devil, it is tantamount to saying that the devil is in Heaven. And that, we know, cannot be. . . whatever George MacDonald may say to the contrary.

Even if exercise is not literally the devil, we know that it is a result of the Fall. You can't imagine Adam and Eve needing to Walk Away the Pounds, can you? Of course not. And if it is a result of the Fall -required by a corruption of what should have been our perfect nature- exercise will surely not be found in the renewed Earth which will be created for us at the end of time. Before the resurrection, we won't have bodies, so clearly there will be no workout sessions then!

In short, my friends, a new heresy walks the earth, one which confuses evil with good. So please pray for poor Leslie, that her mind may be enlightened. And while you're at it, pray for me, that I may not end up in the perpetual aerobics section of purgatory, for having written this blog.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Conclusion of today's episode



If you've been following along in today's step-by-step description of my attempt to cook an unfamiliar cut of meat without a real recipe or adequate directions, you've probably been wondering how the meal turned out.

If you look to the left, you'll see the finished product: slow cooked lamb and onions poured over lentils, served in a wide, shallow pasta bowl.

You may ask: was it good? The answer: good enough. It wasn't one of the sort of meal which is surprisingly good, but it wasn't at all bad (as long as one doesn't mind fatty meat. Some people, admittedly, would have hated it). I was particularly pleased with the lentils. They did indeed have more flavor than your run-of-the-mill lentil dish, thanks to being cooked in a rich, seasoned broth.

Perhaps the real question is: would I make it again? The answer is that I might try it again, but I'd do some things differently. For starters, I'd cut the meat up into smaller pieces, and I'd leave out some of the fat, instead of throwing it all into the pot. I might also tinker with the spices. I particularly liked the flavor the paprika gave the meat- maybe it needs more of that, and perhaps some bay leaf, as well. I would also consider cooking the lentils in the pot with the meat, rather than serving them seperately. I think if the lamb were cut into small enough bites, this recipe could make a good, rich stew. Perhaps mediterranean spices would fit the meal better.

In any event, I think the dish turned out fairly well, considering that I was making it up as I went along. I'm sure there's a lesson in there somewhere for aspiring slow cooker cooks, but I, for one, don't know what it is.

ETA: I've discovered that there's another lesson we can learn: too much fat makes for indigestion. If you make this meal, trim as much of the fat off of the meat as you can, and don't use too much of that fatty broth. Otherwise, your stomach may complain.

When I said it wasn't too soupy. . .

Continued from Earlier

. . . I meant that it wasn't too soupy yet. Here's what the concoction looked at after about 3 hours of cooking. There's lots of lovely broth there. What to do about that?

Fortunately, I had already decided that the main side dish would be lentils, which have the advantge of providing beany vegetable goodness (really: you're supposed to consume dry beans and peas regularly, even if you eat meat) while also working as a rice substitute.

I decided to try preparing 1 cup of lentils in my small round slow cooker, using the broth from the main dish (see above!) for most of the liquid. In the past, using broth from a "soupy" chicken dish has worked well for producing flavorful lentils, and I hope to recreate the same effect today. When I serve the meal, it will probably be in pasta bowls, with a layer of lentils on bottom, followed by the onion and lamb dish. Check back with TheCrockery later to see whether this works!

One hour update



This is what my "braised-in-a-pot" lamb breast looks like after a little over an hour of cooking. You can see all the fat, can't you? Yes indeed, this is no low-fat dinner. You can also see just how thick a coating of seasonings I added.

The predominant aroma is of red wine, but the meat is starting to give off an appetizing odor. And you've got to love the color contrast of the red onions peeping out from beneath the meat, right?

Thus far, my fears that the mix would become "soupy" have not been realized. I think that means that I won't need to serve the dish over a pasta bowl full of brown rice, which had been one of the possibilities I considered. I'm still not sure, in fact, what side dishes to add. Pasta, perhaps?

On to Part Three!

Bargain hunters beware

If you try to watch your grocery bill, you are undoubtedly familiar with the process of scanning the meat aisle for cuts of meat which are on sale. Often, these items are marked down because they are getting old (though not so old so as to be dangerous). All you have to do is pop 'em in your freezer to keep until ready to cook.

It's the cooking part that may be the problem. Perhaps this doesn't happen to older, wiser, better cooks, but I find that when I bring home "bargain cuts," whether they are beef, lamb, pork, or veal, they tend to be cuts of meat that aren't in the cookbook. Veal shoulder chop? What's that? Why isn't it in my Betty Crocker? Country style boneless pork ribs? What the heck? How long do I cook that?

Today's "mystery meat" is a breast of lamb in two pieces. I bought it because it was very cheap indeed. I, a fan of any meat that isn't beef or seafood, was delighted to find a cut of lamb that was really in my price range. Alas, it was my husband who discovered the reason it was so inexpensive: breast of lamb is fatty. Really fatty. One serving has 460 calories or so, and about 430 come from fat. One serving of lamb breast constitutes 73% of your daily fat allowance. Ouch!

Not only was this cut fatty, it had bones in it. Breastbones, to be precise. This was a problem because, as I discovered, most recipes for breast of lamb involve a boned piece of meat. Apparently, when you remove the breastbone, you create a pocket perfect for stuffing. Since the meat is already moist and tender you can add a dry stuffing, which will become enriched by all the fat from the lamb. Then you roll the whole thing up, tie it with twine, and roast it. Yum yum.

Yeah, right! I dislike most kinds of stuffing. More importantly, I don't know how to bone a piece of meat. If I knew that sort of thing, I'd be a butcher, not a graduate student. Some of the recipes helpfully suggest that you can ask the butcher to bone the meat for you. That may work well if you are ordering a specific piece of meat over the meat counter, but not if you are grabbing an already-packaged lamb breast from the bargain meat area at Walmart. And in any event, I didn't realize that the meat needed to be boned until last night, when I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner the next day.

What I really wanted was a slow cooker recipe. You see, this piece of meat did come with instructions for braising it until tender. When I read that, my immeddiate thought was "Aha! It needs to be cooked in liquid. Therefore, I can crockroast it in red wine! But how long should it be cooked? And how shall I season it?" Alas, these answers were not to be found. Apparently no one else tries to crockroast their lamb breast. For that matter, none of the directions looked remotely like the cooking directions that came with the meat.

Finally, I found this recipe for braised breast of mutton. It calls for cooking the meat at low heat for a long period of time, which suggested to me that it was a recipe destined to be adapted for the slow cooker. Mutton and lamb are not identical in flavor or texture, but my hope was that they'd be close enough that I could adapt this direction, skipping the step of boiling the meat ahead of time. But will it work in the crockpot? And what is the result like? Will it be more like a very chunky (not to say bony) soup? Or more like a very saucy roast?

Here's the plan: I shall reveal the awful things I did to the meat, which is cooking right now. Then I shall post updates on how it looks, what happens, and eventually, how it tastes. In short, pretend this is a cooking show and that I'll get back to you after the break to show you what's going on.

Ingredients:

Breast of Lamb

1 cup of red wine

2 large or 3 small red onions

1 teaspoon each:
salt
pepper
oregano
basil
garlic powder
paprica

What I did:

1) First, I tried cutting the meat, because I decided that the kind of meal I wanted would be easier to prepare and eat if I wasn't dealing with two large, long chunks of meat. Initially, I was just cutting it in chunks that still contained the bones, as if it were pieces of rib. (Indeed, making lamb "riblets" is one suggested serving for breast of lamb.) Then I realized how easy it was to slice the meat off the bone, using my "sportsman knife." This produced long, thin strips of fatty meat. There are probably still a few pieces with bone in them, but in general I tried to avoid the bone. All of the meat was chopped into big chunks. The pieces of meat are larger than stewmeat, but mostly smaller in width than a hamburger patty. This, I hope, will give greater flexibility in serving.

2) After the meat was cut as best I could, I put in the fridge. Then I peeled two large unions and sliced them in thick rings. I greased my large oval crockpot and placed the onion rings on the bottom.

3) Now it was time to season the meat. After initially toying with the idea of using garlic and rosemary, I instead opted for a mix of strong flavored herbs. I mixed all the seasonings together in a bowl and covered the lamb chunks with the resulting mix. It ended up being a good amount of spice, I think; the meat was pretty thoroughly covered, in any event.

4) I spread the lamb chunks over the onions slices, and sprinkled the last of the seasoning mix over the whole thing. Then I poured a miniature bottle of red wine (1 person serving) over the entire thing.

5) I put the lid on, turned the crock on "low," and walked away. The plan is to let the meat cook for about 6 hours.

Tune in next time to find out what happened in my amazing dinner experiment. Will the results reveal my ingeniousness, or my stupidity?





Monday, May 01, 2006

Better baked apples

In a previous post some months ago, I mentioned the merits of baked apples as a relatively healthy dessert with which one can round out a meal. Now I'm here to tell you briefly how you can make the very best baked apples. . . in your slow cooker! Yes, folks, that's right: after a long recipe-less existence, I'm going to share a recipe.

In this case, the recipe is from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook. I've resized it for two people, and adjusted the spices. This recipe is ideal for a medium round crockpot. For larger pots, use more apples and increase the other ingredients proportionately.


Note: Many baked apple recipes on the internet include raisins or even nuts, but I think the apples are better without them.

Ingredients:
3-4 Golden Delicious apples

1/3 cup of lightly packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon unsalted (sweet cream) butter

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup of white wine or the juice of your choice.

(We used Cherry-Apple juice drink because it was what we had on hand, but you might try cranberry juice, cranapple juice, white grape juice, or apple cider. Basically, any juice which would go well with apples would work. You can also use water.)

Directions

1) Prep the apples: do not peel them. Wash them thoroughly. Core them with a long knife; make sure you remove all of the seeds. If possible, leave the bottom of the apple intact: this will help hold the sugar. What you want to do is remove all of the core without breaking through the apple. Then, using a paring knife or vegatable peeler, peel a single strip of skin off the apple around the middle.

2) Mix the brown sugar with the teaspoon of cinnamon. If you prefer, you can add 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg, or substitute 1 teaspoon apple pie spice for the cinnamon.

3) Grease the crockpot with butter or cooking spray. Place the apples right side up in the crockpot (that is, with their bottoms on the bottom).

4) Fill the hollow apples with the sugar and spice mix. Then place 1/3 of a tablespoon of butter on top of the sugar. If there is remaining sugar, sprinkle it over the apples.

5) Pour the juice into the crockpot.

6) Put the lid on, and cook on High for 2-3 1/2 hours. Allow apples to cool slightly in the crock (with the lid off) before eating.

If desired, serve with ice cream or heavy cream. You might also try serving the apples with waffles, pancakes, or cinnamon toast for breakfast. Keep any leftovers refrigerated.