JEFF TIEDEMAN: Fall classicApples, pork make themselves right at home this time of year.
What’s signifies fall to you?
Maybe it’s that the days are getting shorter, the nights are getting colder and the leaves are starting to pile up on your lawn. Or if you’re a gardener or a hunter, your season is nearly over or is just starting. And for baseball fans, it’s World Series time.
I can relate to all of the above, but there’s another sure sign of fall that you can count on around here. It’s the fall supper phenomenon
Just about every church in the area and many other groups hold dinners each fall. I’ve been to several over the years and don’t think there’s been one that’s fallen short of my expectations.
And you know what? A lot of them have something in common besides being held in the fall: It’s that the main course — or one of them — often is pork, and there’s usually always some sort of apple dessert.
I don’t know how or when the custom of having pork and apples together started, but it stands to reason that fall is the perfect time since home-grown apples are ripe and in abundance and that’s when farmers traditionally culled their surplus stock that could not be overwintered. Pigs, of course, often were the victim of choice, since much of them were eminently preservable for winter use in the form of sausages, ham and bacon.
Nutritionally, this combination has several things going for it.
Pork, “the other white meat,” is now leaner than it used to be. The pork industry has improved its products so much the past 30 years that today’s meat has less fat and is lower in calories and cholesterol than ever before. In addition, pork is a good source of many essential vitamins and minerals, provides high-quality protein and is a primary source of other essential nutrients such as vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamins B2, B6, B12, iron and zinc.
Apples, on the other hand — on average — contain more antioxidants, which can help to prevent cancer, than a 1,500-milligram dose of vitamin C. They’re also full of a combination of phytochemicals that are thought to assist antioxidant activity and anti-cancer activity. Apples also have the same amount of dietary fiber as a bowl of breakfast bran cereal.
The most recent fall dinner I attended featured roast pork, mashed potatoes, carrots and apple crisp for dessert. It was in the East Grand Forks Senior Citizen’s Center, which also delivers noon meals to both Sunshine Terrace and Town Square, both senior and low-income housing, for a suggested price of $3.50 for people 60 and older. (The center contracts its food service with Lutheran Social Services, and a licensed dietitian prepares the menus.)
According to Lynda Adams Vanderhoof, coordinator of the center, the pig roast has been around for more than 20 years. “And we’ve always served an apple crisp or apple something since I’ve been here.”
Soon, I’m going to be up to my ears in pork and apples. At least three neighbors have offered to share their harvest. And on one of my upcoming Montana pheasant hunting trips, I hope to pick up some pork (smoked bacon and ribs) from a friend who raises and butchers pigs and sells the meat at his store in Westby.
All of this will give me the opportunity to fix a dish that my mom made for me a couple of months ago — pork spare ribs with apple, prune and bread dressing. It’s one of my grandmother’s old recipes and one that I hadn’t had since my childhood.
By then, maybe I’ll have the yardwork done, a few hunting trips under my belt and a Twins championship to celebrate.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.