I assume you heard the national news on New Year's day about the thousands of red-winged blackbirds that were found dead in the woods of AR? Lots of people didn't believe the investigation's finding they died of blunt-force trauma caused by being startled from their roost at night and colliding into tree trunks, limbs, and each other. The assumption was the birds roost at night and noise from NY Eve celebration fireworks startled them. At the time I heard the story, I wondered if this could really be the case.
Last week for two days during the latest snow, we had a humongous flock of red-winged blackbirds in the back yard, all settling around our bird tree (what I call a cedar stob with lots of feeders, suet cages, and peanut butter smears on it). I've now seen firsthand these guys fly into anything. We didn't have bird bodies around, thankfully, but every few minutes one ran into the screened porch or a window...guess they don't call them bird brains for nothing...was kinda eery -- made me think of the Hitchcock movie The Birds.
One of those cold days I made a large pot of red beans and rice, and casting about for dessert, remembered this quick and easy one. If you like apple pie or cobbler, this is a real treat; usually people have the ingredients already on hand:
granny smith apples, one per person--peeled and cored (up to six or less for these ingredients)
1/2 c butter
3/4 c brown sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
3 c water
2 c sugar
1 t vanilla
400 degrees. Preheat oven.
Butter a 13 x 9 inch pan.
On a floured surface, roll out pie crust into a large rectangle and cut into squares**
Cut butter in pieces. Place each apple in a square of pastry (or see below), and place one piece of butter in the opening of each apple and two pieces of butter around the base. Do this for each apple. Reserve remaining butter for the sauce. Divide brown sugar between the apples, poking it inside each core and around the base of each apple. Sprinkle each apple with cinnamon and nutmeg.
With slightly wet fingertips bring up the corners of each pastry around the top of the apple and press together. Seal each apple this way. Place them in the buttered pan.
In a saucepan combine the water, sugar, vanilla, and reserved butter and bring to a boil in medium heat. Boil 5 minutes or until sugar is dissolved well. Pour over the apple dumplings.
Bake 50 to 60 minutes.
Place each apple in a dessert bowl and spoon the sauce over the top. Serve with vanilla ice cream....enjoy the compliments.
**I was lazy. What I did, which made extra crust, was to wrap one large granny smith apple each in one Pillsbury pie crust and let the top overlap. Worked beautifully.