As we stepped through the sliding doors, all laden with luggage, yesterday evening as we exited Charlotte-Douglas, I inhaled the sweet North Carolina air deeply and was so grateful to be home. The best part about vacation, I decided, was realizing how much you love home.
About an hour later, we pulled into the garage of our home, chattering excitedly about how thrilled the pups would be to see us. We exchanged nervous glances when we heard the big bark of our Weimaraner just on the other side of the door – not securely in his kennel upstairs. Davey the Hubbers rushed to go inside and survey the damage. All too tragically realizing that we were locked out of the house. We checked every door, tried to remember if we’d hidden an extra key or just talked about it, and finally decided to cut a window screen, jimmy open the glass and send me snaking through to the other side.
As I hoisted myself up to the kitchen window, I was suddenly simultaneously grateful for the last three weeks of our work-imposed no-sugar, no-grain eating challenge, and that we had taken an extra few minutes before we left to clean the sink, since I was making my way head first into it. Thanks to the yoga I got into last year (that I haven’t practiced in at least a month), I was able to contort myself through the window and land on my feet, if not gracefully then at least forcefully.
I opened the door, surveyed the fecal damage throughout our house, examined my husband’s irate face and immediately grabbed my purse and headed for the grocery store to buy kale. Because six days without kale chips when you also can’t have sugar or grain and you have dog doo-doo just sitting around your house waiting your return, is just six days too many. When I got home, DTH was gone, burning off steam at the gym, and I was alone… just me, my kale chips and an unpacked suitcase. But instead of my much-craved-for treat, I overcooked the chips and realized too late that the leaves were particularly sandy, so I was left with dirty, gritty, burnt kale. As I dumped them sullenly in the trashcan and sighed heavily, I realized that the best thing about being home is the way you appreciate those few days away in paradise.
The rude awakening continued this morning when the dogs decided that 3:27 was an excellent wake up time, and I crawled out from under the covers at 5:30 to brew a mug of coffee for my chef bedmate, and discovered that hundreds of ants had started a colony in our Keurig while we were gone and had already started laying eggs. Of course, I didn’t realize it until the coffee started brewing, and the little black soldiers started pouring out of every crack of the machine. I gave him the coffee anyway, dumped the colony and its unborn into the garbage disposal, turned it on cruelly, and left for my own workout.
When I returned home sweaty and basking in endorphins, I decided that I was going to singlehandedly right the ship with a 5 ingredient, no clean up, sweet and savory treat. Inspired by one of my favorite local blogs, Sweet Tater Blog’s recent post on quick skillet apples, I grabbed a couple of granny smiths and got to work. The result was just I was after… crisp, gooey, spicy in the way you want sweet-savory dishes to be, easy, and most importantly, reheatable. I threw it in my lunch sack today and resisted it until 3:00, when I popped that puppy in the microwave faster than the Duggars pop out child-puppies, and relished every sinful but guilt free bite.
Sweet + Spiced Baked Granny Smiths
1 Granny Smith apple
1 T Butter
Brown sugar (optional)
Preheat oven to 400-degrees. Slice Granny Smith in half – remove core (if you’d like… I tried on one half and promptly sliced my finger. So then I had to clean up the blood, pick out a Band-Aid and think through how I’d justify why I was using a serrated bread knife to slice apples… the answer is, naturally, because I wanted to, and it was close, and I didn’t look or really care). Place apple halves on square of aluminum foil (enough to close the entire apple into a neat little packet). Place 1/2 T butter on each apple then sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and brown sugar (I used the most cinnamon, followed by nutmeg and just a dusting of cloves, but you can play with the ratio you prefer. If I’d used brown sugar (which I really, really wanted to) I would have used the most of that). Make your little apple packet, and place in oven, directly on rack. Bake for roughly 25 minutes, or until soft when you gently squeeze the packet. Unwrap and enjoy immediately as a breakfast treat, or under frozen vanilla Greek yogurt, or save and reheat later – one minute in the microwave will do just the trick!