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Would Caroline Ingalls Make Baked Apple Chips?

On a recent Saturday morning, I saw an enticing image of baked apple chips on Facebook. I read through the recipe. It seemed simple enough. I’m no baker, but I figured I could do that.

My wife, who often bakes with our two young daughters, raised an eyebrow when I told her what I wanted to do. “OK, if you want to,” she playfully shrugged. So off to the store I went.

I selected a few Granny Smith apples, picked up a few other needed household items, and approached the clerk. She was, I’d say, in her late 50s or early 60s and not in a talkative mood. As she punched the code for apples into her register, I mentioned that I was going to bake apple chips with my daughters.

Suddenly, her mood changed. Maybe she enjoyed baking. Or perhaps what I said reminded her of baking with loved ones. I don’t know. But the tired eyes that greeted me moments ago were replaced with something more positive as she wished me well.

Back at our house, I sliced the apples and lined the baking sheets with parchment paper. Then I asked my daughters to help mix the sugar and cinnamon. The next step was to sprinkle the mixture onto the apple slices. The girls did that, ever so diligent in making sure each apple slice received its fair share.

The baking sheets went into the oven, preheated at 225 degrees F, and the only thing left to do was wait.

I found myself pondering whether Caroline Ingalls would have made apple chips for Pa, Laura, Mary and baby Carrie. The recipe didn’t call for anything that she couldn’t have bought from Nels Oleson’s general store.

I remember watching Little House on the Prairie as a kid. I always liked it. And, with it airing here on INSP, I’m getting to enjoy it again but this time through the eyes of a father. I think there’s a piece of me that yearns to be like Charles Ingalls. I’ve introduced my girls to the show and have even read the books to them as part of our night-night ritual.

I enjoy many of today’s conveniences. My iPhone is never too far away, and my DVR gets a good workout. Yet, the authentic nature of the relationships on Little House on the Prairie makes me question, at times, the world my 7- and 5-year-old daughters will know.

It seems more people led their lives based on their morals rather than their emotions in Walnut Grove. Charles certainly did. Is there a place for men like Charles Ingalls in 2013 America? I think there is.

Ding. An hour had passed. It was time to flip the apple slices. The recipe didn’t say whether I should sprinkle the other side with the cinnamon/sugar mix after flipping. I decided it was worth the gamble to do so.

The apple chips wouldn’t be done for another hour. We spent most of that time in the backyard on a sunny, brisk Carolina morning. I underhand tossed some baseballs to my Half-Pint, delighting each time she made good contact.

The apple chips were finally done. The verdict? My oldest daughter thought they were delicious. My youngest daughter took one bite and promptly spit it back into her hand.  You win some, you lose some.

In the end, I thought they came out pretty good. The recipe called for slicing the apples with a mandolin slicer. Not owning one, I figured I could just cut the apples by hand. The thin slices crisped up nicely. The thicker ones were a bit soggy. Lesson learned.

Would Ma Ingalls have approved of how this dish turned out? Probably not. But Pa may have approved of the morning. That would be good enough for me.

Ingredients

2 apples
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon sugar

Instructions

* Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F.
* Stir together the cinnamon and sugar to combine. Set aside.
* Slice apples thinly with a mandolin slicer.
* Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
* Place apples, in a single layer, in baking sheets.
* Sprinkle apples with cinnamon/sugar mix.
* Bake for 1 hour.
* Flip and bake for 1 more hour.
* Allow apples chips to cool inside the oven (to crisp)

 

Tom Needham

VP, Digital Marketing – INSP