On Saturday night, my family and I cooked dinner together.
Though, on second thought, I should revise that statement:
Last night, my family, minus my sister (missed her terribly), grilled dinner together.
There. I’m all about accuracy.
My parents and I set about on a great adventure that came to fruition with one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time.
While the family meal may not seem a grand event to some, it very much is to us. See, we never get to eat together. One of us is always off playing golf (dad), working late (mom), not hungry yet (me), or living halfway across the world (my sister). When we do dine together, it’s an awfully big deal.
What made the whole situation better is that dinner was, from the planning stage to execution, a collaborative effort.
After whipping up a cake with broiled coconut frosting, chocolate-almond biscotti, and a spinach souffle (My family is very serious about early-morning baking. No errands shall be run until the oven has sat at a steady 350 degrees for at least two hours.), my mother and I headed for Wegmans to pick up a few essentials. Two hours and a couple of hundred dollars later, we emerged, weary but triumphant, with the makings of what we deemed to be the Perfect Late August Meal.
Upon arriving home, I took a break from baking in order to read a collection of essays of American food writing. One might say I have a one-track mind. One might be right.
At any rate, as dinnertime drew nearer and my stomach grew rumbly-er, I padded into the kitchen to rally the troops. No such necessity; my mother had already started the grill. As she rubbed salmon burgers with oil, I set to work coring pink, firm apples. My dad tumbled in off the lawn mower and smiled. “Do you need me to do anything to help?”
“Umm,” I thought, my concentration directed at the task at hand, “Ask mom,” I offered.
He turned to my mother. “Does Rochelle need me to do anything to help?” he chortled at his own joke, and I smacked him with a dishtowel.
I suggested he prepare the asparagus we’d be having alongside our burgers. “Toss it with oil, salt, and pepper, then we can grill it.”
“Grill it? Is that weird?” he asked.
I shrugged. “It’s what Bobby Flay does.”
No more needed to be said; certain phrases in our household require a sort of quiet respect. “Bobby Flay” is one of them. “Dad, I crashed the car again” is another.
My mother placed the burgers on the grill, and we all giggled a bit as one crumbled. “Guess that one’s mine,” she graciously offered. (I tend to be the brat of the outfit, refusing anything less-than-perfect looking).
Everything came together perfectly; as we sat down to dinner, three apples were baking away in the oven, bathed in rum, butter, and brown sugar. We started to lift our forks to our mouths, but put them back down upon remembering something very important.
“Cheers!” we laughed, clinking our glasses.
- 4 large apples, such as pink lady or fuji
- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 1 cup apple juice
- 1/4 cup rum
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- Smattering of brown sugar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cut tops off apples and core, leaving some flesh at the bottom of the fruit. Sit upright in an ovenproof bowl.
Mix together rum, apple juice, and walnuts, then pour over apples, letting the liquid pool at the bottom of the bowl.
Stuff the apples with cinnamon sticks, pats of butter, and brown sugar.
Bake for 45 minutes, basting the apples with juice/rum mixture every 10 minutes or so. Apples are done when skin is soft and slightly wrinkled, and flesh is tender.
Place each apple in a serving dish, and spoon liquid/walnuts over fruit. Serve with vanilla ice cream.