In New Jersey, diners are located on nearly every corner. They have huge menus and serve breakfast all day. In this state, they are an institution. In the South, that same role is filled by restaurants collectively known as “ a meat and three.” That means places where you choose what’s on your plate one item at a time. Your start with a "meat". The meat choices are usually a long list of options: fried chicken, pork chop, country ham, sugar-cured ham, chicken fried steak, meatloaf, chicken and dumplings, pot roast……..you get the idea.
The “vegetables” on the "three" list are usually an enormous collection, only some of which are actually vegetables: corn, grits casserole, cole slaw, turnip greens, green beans, squash, black-eyed peas, pinto beans, carrots, crowder peas, cottage cheese, mac & cheese, mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes……..and there are always sweet cinnamon apples (also called fried apples).
Cinnamon apples taste like the inside of an apple pie. It’s a simple dish of sliced apples, cooked in a smudge of melted butter with brown sugar and cinnamon. The apples cook down and release their pectin, so the sauce is thick with flecks of cinnamon. Served warm, they are always delicious. Leftovers, if you have any, can be served for breakfast with a corn muffin or biscuit, on pancakes, or in oatmeal.
But for supper, they taste like home and fall. And in our house they taste like your mama loves you. That’s happy!