My childhood memories of fall also include another treat at our house......baked apples

     In the mid-1950's, central air conditioning was quite rare in single-family homes on the south side of Chicago (most weren't that well insulated either).  During the summer our house was cooled by a single large window air conditioning unit that was in the side window of the living room.  The rest of the house was cooled by whatever cool air migrated there from the living room.  We didn't have a large house, though, and since it had no basement or finished upstairs, it was capable of making the other rooms at least tolerable. 

     During summer months my mom didn't do a lot of baking since the oven would make it uncomfortably hot in the kitchen and counter the effect of the air conditioner in the rest of the house as well.  We did a lot of our summer cooking on a small outdoor charcoal grill and when I was old enough, I shared the grilling chores with my dad.  The fact that we didn't bake much in the summer made baked apples a treat normally only enjoyed on fall evenings when it was cooler. 

     We lived in a working-class neighborhood on the south side of Chicago and neither my parents, nor most of my friends parents, were particularly well off.  Many neighborhood dads worked second jobs and many of the moms also worked at least part-time (as did mine).  My dad worked a second job about 4 hours an evening, 3-4 evenings a week.  My mother also worked short day jobs a couple days a week during the time I was in school.

     It would normally be on one of those evenings when she and I were home alone that she would make the baked apples.  I enjoyed watching her prepare them for baking, often sampling the ingredients as she made them.  When she put them in the oven, that wonderful apple-cinnamon smell would soon begin to permeate the house. 

     When the apples were finally done, she would take them out of the oven and we would take a walk around the block and chat in the brisk fall evening air while the apples got cool enough to eat.  I can still remember my excitement as the whole walk was filled with the anticipation of the first taste of one of those apples! 

     Sadly, my mother never wrote the recipe down and when she passed away, the baked apple recipe went with her.  We've tried several versions from the Internet and some have been close but none yet have been spot-on with my memory of her recipe.