You might have noticed that I stopped talking about my diet a while back. That's because I fell off the wagon, and over the subsequent weeks I gained back 12 of these 50 pounds I'd worked so hard to lose. It was a slide, for sure, but it could have been worse. Monday I had my "oh, shit" moment and got back on plan. As I feared, it's harder now that summer is over. The seemingly endless selection of fresh, delicious fruits and vegetables has been replaced by apples, pears, and a whole bunch of expensive out of season stuff. Now, I love apples when they're turned into other things, like apple sauce, apple pie, apple crisp or apple muffins, but on their own I'm definitely not a fan. Pears are another story, especially the bosc or red varieties, which is good for me because I'll be depending on them (and the ever-present bag of baby carrots) to get me through the winter months. Oh, and speaking of pears and making apples into something else, here's an easy recipe I sort of invented for our pot-luck staff retreat:

John's Special Harvest Mix

Cut up cored apples and pears into bite sized chunks. I prefer to leave the skin on, but if you're industrious you can peel them. I had success with a mixture of about 2 to 1 apples to pears, with mixed varieties of each but emphasis on tart varieties of apples such as Granny Smith. In a large mixing bowl, combine the apples and pears with cinnamon (lots) and brown sugar to taste (I used 3/4 of a bag of dark brown sugar for a batch that filled my big crock pot to the brim). When the fruit is coated with the sugar and cinnamon, put it in the crock pot and add 3/4 of a bag of cranberries. Because the fruit is so juicy, you won't have to add any water. Cook until the fruit is tender but not mushy, stirring occasionally. My full crockpot was cooked to perfection in a bit under 3 hours cooking on high. If you cook it long enough, it becomes mushy like applesauce, but the cranberries explode and the mixture turns a dark brown that doesn't look very appealing. It was a big hit at the pot-luck, and there were lots of ideas about how it could be modified (walnuts or pecans, maybe) or served (with ice cream, or whipped cream, or as a side dish if the brown sugar was reduced).

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