Walks in the countryside are a constant in my life. I wear my walking shoes and I go out, and what is a familiar landscape turns into something different in front of my eyes, season after season. It changes when I go out alone with loud music from my headphones to dream or plan, or when I go walking with my friends to show them my corner of heaven, holding my breath to see the effect on them of the landscape that still leaves me speechless. It changes again if I go walking with Noa, she is spellbound when she hears the sound of distant sheep bells, or she follows invisible traces, wagging her tail happily, head down in concentration or high and proud, to breathe in the wind.
During summer the smell of flowers and honey is sweet, in spring Nature explodes and makes you believe that everything is possible, because after the cold months there is always a rebirth. In autumn fiery colours are the dominant of my walks, an incredible and surprising warm palette. In winter, especially on sunny days, country walks still offer other joys: the brisk air on your face, your cheeks bright and pink, a rush of energy that makes you alive after your walk. But above all, let’s face it, I love to come back home and find something warm waiting for me.
Last year I spent two weeks in England in winter between London and the West Country. We enjoyed long afternoon walks along a river or along narrow paths surrounded by high hedgerows, under endless skies. Then we would arrive in a small town and find the local tea room, where you could warm up yourself with a cup of steaming tea, enjoying also scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam. Small pleasures whose expectation made even more memorable our afternoon strolls.
Back at home, I enjoy coming back from a walk and brew some tea, to warm hands and spirit. Just imagine: you sit around a table and chat over a cup of tea, sheer joy. There is just one thing missing, something sweet to go with your tea. Cookies, cakes, pies, everything is perfect. But now that we are at the end of the apple season, for me nothing beats a baked apple stuffed with nuts and raisins.
These apples can be made just before you go for a walk, then leave them in the oven. When you’ll come back you will find them warm and juicy, just put the kettle for a tea or a coffee and a quick and luscious snack is ready.
- 4 apples, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Stark, Granny Smith ...
- 20 g of butter
- 50 g of cane sugar
- 50 g raisins
- 50 g almonds
- Juice and zest of 1 orange
- Dessert wine like Vinsanto
- Heat oven to 180°C.
- Wash the apples and cut the top with a knife. Set it aside. Core the apples.
- Blend the almonds with the raisins. In a small saucepan add butter, orange juice, orange zest, cane sugar, raisins and almonds and stir over low heat until thoroughly mixed and caramel scented.
- Fill the apples generously with the almond and raisin filling, then cover with the upper top of each apple, as if it were a hat.
- Arrange the apples in a baking dish with an inch of water, drizzle with vinsanto and bake for about an hour, until soft and shiny.
- Serve warm as they are or with a drizzle of maple syrup.