My parents are divorced but coincidentally they both happened to plan trips to Europe at the exact same time this year which meant that for the first time ever, I feel kind of orphaned. Obviously I have no real appreciation or understanding of how truly awful that would be in the realest sense, but I have definitely felt quite odd having neither parent handy or accessible, even for a quick phone call. I don’t see my parents every day or even necessarily speak to them every day, but it’s strange how you feel when you can’t if you want to.
What has been an awesome flip side of this reality has been making a real effort to keep in touch with and hang out with my siblings without the prompting of our parents to throw a family dinner or call a family lunch that rallies us all together.
When it dawned on us kids that both parents would be overseas at the same time, we planned to keep each other in the loop and not let the busyness of life get in the way of catching up in their absence. We’ve had a couple of dinners with two or three of us present, but this past Sunday night we had the full chorus in attendance – all siblings + partners congregated at ours for dinner.
My younger brother and his girlfriend bought the most amazing Smoked Fish Pie comprised of a couple of kilos of smoked fish, celeriac, leeks, eggs, a rich creamy but not too cumbersome sauce, topped with a luscious combo of kumara & potato mash; littlest brother and his fiance came laden with beautifully blanched beans which they finished off in the pan with toasted slivered almonds, baby sister arrived bearing wine and well, that left me on dessert.
After serving this dish at a recent dinner party with friends, these Baked Apples with Rum and Allspice are my new go-to dessert. They take virtually no time to prepare, spend forty minutes in a hot oven doing their thing and then exit ready to be smothered in cream and consumed with a gigantic grin!
We excitedly caught up on the week that was, we laughed about our Nonni and the crazy things she’d said when each of us visited, we Skyped our Mama in Barcelona who had just woken up and was completely overwhelmed with emotion seeing us all gawking at her from around my dining table, and we ended up on the topic that is every-time inevitable when we gather – how to best raise children. Haha, it is necessary at this point for me to enlighten you to the fact that I am the only one of us with children so I just can not wait until each of them creates some of their own and I can remind them all of their grand plans and lofty parenting goals. But that’s the thing about parenting – you don’t know jack until you’re in the thick of it. And no one can tell you otherwise until you’re there.
There’s talk of soundproofed rooms to eliminate the sound of screaming children. The technique of just giving their children a look to chastise them. And the ‘my kids will never watch Disney or have their own music in the car’ nonsensical talk.
We shall see my darling siblings. We shall see.
Back to the apples. You should make them. They are really something special. Here’s how you can.
- 5-6 medium Braeburn apples. halved through the stem
- 50 grams butter, melted
- 3 T cream
- 3 T brown sugar
- 1/4 t each ground cinnamon, ginger and allspice
- 1/4 sea salt
- 2 T rum or spirit of your choice (I used Appletons Rum)
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
- Line a baking dish with baking paper and set aside.
- Combine all the ingredients except the apples in a large bowl.
- Add the apples and turn them in the liquid so they are completely coated.
- Place apples cut side up in the baking dish. Spoon over all remaining mixture from the bowl.
- Place in oven and bake for 40 minutes, basting the tops of the apples every 10-15 minutes. Check at 40 minutes. You're looking for the apples to be completely soft and even soggy, with the flesh pulling away from the skins.
- Arrange the apples in bowls and spoon over the caramel sauce. Serve with freshly whipped cream.
- I use one whole apple per person and serve two halves to each person.
- You can also serve with icecream or custard if you prefer.