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farmer jo:  an apple (or pear) a day
by Joanna Piatek
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continued from page 2

Upside-down Apple French toast
Though the recipe shown here is perfect for two people, this is really easy to double. It can be prepared the night before; just pop it in the oven the next morning while you brew the coffee and argue over the Sunday comics.

4 slices of thick-cut French bread
3 eggs
¾ cup milk or cream (if you're feeling decadent)
1-2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 crisp apple, such as a Fuji or Braeburn, sliced thinly
½ cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
2. Arrange the bread in a flat baking dish (a 9"x9" pan should fit four slices just about perfectly). Whisk together the eggs, milk and vanilla. Pour over the bread and let soak anywhere from 10 minutes to overnight. 
Combine the brown sugar, butter and cinnamon until mixed and slightly crumbly. Now here comes the slightly annoying part: Remove all the bread carefully from the baking dish. Cover the bottom of the dish with the sugar mixture and arrange the apples on top of that. Lay the bread over the apples. 
4. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes – longer if doubling the recipe. When the bread is puffy and golden brown remove and let cool for about 5 minutes. To serve, flip the toast over so that the apple/ brown sugar mixture is on top.

o o o o o

One of the apple’s closest cousins is the pear. The earliest record of pears comes from Homer, who referred to them as "Gifts of the Gods" in the Odyssey. In North America, the first pear trees arrived with European settlers in the 1700's, shortly after the apple made its North American debut. There are over 3,000 known varieties of pears in the world; but only a few are grown for commercial production. The Northwest, in particular, is known for its fertile pear orchards, and late October is the height of the harvest season.

Pears are more fragile than apples, so when they’re in season, I try to make the most of them. Though pears are picked when they are ripe, they don’t soften on the tree, but rather, after they’ve been harvested. When your pears are slightly soft to the touch, they’re ready to use. To ripen rock hard pears, put them in a paper bag for a few days. For both of these recipes it is better if the pears are still slightly firm. It helps them hold their shape.

I love poached pears. My grandma uses jell-o for the poaching liquid, so when the dish is cooled you have soft sweet pears suspended in red gel. Fun to look at! But I have a more sophisticated recipe in mind.

this way for the pear recipes!

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