Day 22 – Traditions

I am thankful for traditions. Growing up we had a number of them, but over the years they changed – Sarah and I outgrew them, or they disappeared when our parents got divorced and now a number are gonna without Mom. But just because most of the traditions from my childhood are gone, doesn’t mean I don’t have new ones. Tom and I started some traditions before moving to our home, but since then even more have come about. We go strawberry and blueberry picking in the summer. And in the fall we go apple picking, and even try to make time to go apple picking upstate where I used to go with my parents – and then go pumpkin picking too. And the tradition I’m most looking forward to is buying our Christmas tree 🎄! We go to Jones Farms on our anniversary every year to buy our tree – this has double meaning. First, we go on our anniversary so we always spend they day together and second, it’s where I used to get a tree as a little kid, before my parents got an artificial one. These traditions may seem simple, but I am thankful for them every year!

Strawberry Jam

Last night, Tom and I made our first batch of home made strawberry jam. This past Saturday, we went strawberry picking at Jones Family Farm in Shelton, CT and picked a wonderful basket of berries, 20120612-082545.jpgweighing in at 10.4 pounds. Is was my first time ever picking strawberries, and I was loving it. It’s so much fun to pick them, we didn’t realize until after we got home just how many strawberries are in 10.4 pounds. So we began to ponder, what to do with all the berries before they spoiled? Make jam!! So we googled and found a recipe that we wanted to try, one that doesn’t call for pectin and white sugar like most recipes do.

We began by prepping the berries. We hulled and halved 2.45 kg strawberries. 20120612-082529.jpg Then we washed the strawberries and .250 kilos blueberries — we were supposed to use 6 ponds of strawberries for the cope, but we ran a little short, and we had to measure in kills since that’s the only scale that lives in the kitchen, .448 kilos = 1 pound). Once the berries were ready, we put 3 3/4 cups honey, 2 tbsps freshly squeezed lemon juice, 2 small grated apples and all the washed berries in large pot and mixed it all together. >20120612-082502.jpg continued to mix the pot together over increasing heat until it reached a low boil. Once it was boiling, we began to mash the berries for 20 min with a hand potato masher. We then continued to boil mixture for 65 more min — it was boiling for a total of 85 minutes. 20120612-081703.jpg

While boiling the mixture, we sanitized utensils, lids and pots. (We had already sanitized the jars in the dishwasher.) Also, we got another pot of boiling water going for the “processing” phase. Once the jam was done boiling, we laddled (if that’s even a real word) the jam into 6 pint size canning jars with the help of a funnel (which we cut the bottom small neck off of so the jam could pass through with ease). 20120612-082039.jpg Once the lid was on, Tom “strong finger tightened” the bands on the jars. We then placed the 6 jars into our pot of boiling water for 10 min, all the jars were covered with 2″ water during this process. After 10 min, we took the jars out of the water and placed them on a cutting board on the counter. 20120612-082145.jpg

While cleaning up, we heard 5 of 6 lids pop within 5 min. We covered jars with towel and blanket and let sit overnight. We will move the jars to a cool, dry location later today once they are sealed.

An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away: Recipes for Fall

My first time putting my hand into the editing world on TNGG….as originally posted here.

Prime apple picking season is upon us. While the Northeast may be facing a pumpkin shortage(yes, I know, sad but true) for the upcoming Halloween season, apples seem plentiful now that they are ready for picking. There’s nothing better than picking an apple from the orchard, cleaning it off on the sleeve of your hoodie, and biting into the crispy, juicy fruit — well, except for family favorite apple recipes.

Our love of apples and apple dishes began as tykes, eating apple sauce and drinking apple juice. Apples are one of the most common fruits seen inside a school cafeteria. Now that we are on our own, we have learned the joys, and frustrations, of baking and cooking. Some of us here at TNGG have gathered our favorite recipes to share to better kitchens around the world with our tasty apple dishes.

Don’t forget when cooking anything with apples, it is important to use apples which are considered baking apples (anything that keeps it shape while baking) — Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Gala, etc. There are also ways to adapt all recipes to be healthier. You could also swap vegetable oil with olive oil — you’ll be surprised at how moist olive oil cakes are. Or, if you want to skip all that sugar and butter for crumble toppings, just top the cake with chopped walnuts or pecans.

Apple Coffee Cake (submitted by Yue Huang)

This recipe yields a sweet, tart, and moist cake, perfect to pair with some dark roast coffee or afternoon tea.

What you’ll need:

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter (for the batter)
  • 2 tbsp of butter (for the crumble)
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp of lemon zest (optional)
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup plain low-fat yogurt (I used Greek yogurt; you can use any type so long as it’s not sweetened)
  • 1 heaping cup of baking apples (I chopped two medium-sized Cortland apples)
  • lemon juice (for splashing on the apple to prevent browning)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 tbsp of light brown sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350° F.

2. Chop apples and splash some lemon juice on top to prevent browning.

3. In a large bowl, cream ¼ cup butter and vegetable oil with the granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, vanilla and lemon zest.

4. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir into wet mixture. Add yogurt and mix; gently stir in apples. Pour the cake batter into a greased and floured 9-inch round baking pan. (You could also use parchment paper or foil for no mess.)

5. In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar and cinnamon. Mix with 2 tablespoons of butter. Sprinkle over the top of the batter (don’t worry if it’s not perfectly spread out).

6. Bake for 45 minutes (until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean).

7. Cool for 20 minutes. Cut into portions and enjoy the perfect slice of fall.

Cook’s note: You may want to chop extra apples in case you are like me who, well, likes to “taste” my ingredients while I cook. Also, I chopped them quite small so they don’t fall to the bottom of the batter.

Apple Crisp (submitted by me)

This recipe creates a dish that is great for breakfast or a snack. Best served warm (and extra goodness, when served with a heaping scoop of ice cream).

What you’ll need:

  • 5 or 6 medium apples
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 to ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup oatmeal oats (old fashioned style)
  • ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup softened butter

1. Preheat oven to 375° F.

2. Peel and core apples. Cut into bite size slices and fill an 8”x8”x2” pan with the slices.

3. In a large mixing bowl, mix together all ingredients to form your topping.

4. Spread topping over apples (somewhat evenly).

5. Sprinkle extra nutmeg and cinnamon to your liking over the top.

6. Bake for 40-45 minutes (until topping is golden brown).

7. Cool for 20 minutes.

Cook’s note: This is a perfect recipe to exaggerate the ingredients, especially if you’re like my boyfriend and want lots of extra topping. To make the topping thicker, add flour, brown sugar and oatmeal as you please. Be sure to use plenty of butter too in order for the topping to somewhat stick together so it isn’t a floury mess.

Baked Cider Donuts (submitted by Melanie Yarbrough)

This recipe will make about nine donuts and about twenty donut holes.

What you’ll need:

  • ½ cup apple cider
  • 2 tbsp softened butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup diced apples
  • 2 tbsp butter (for toppings)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar (for toppings)
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract (for toppings)
  • ½ cup sugar (for toppings)
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon(for toppings)

1. Preheat your oven to 425° F.

2. Bring apple cider to a boil until reduced by half.

3. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.

4. In a separate mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Mix in the egg, cider and milk.

5. Mix half of the dry ingredients into the butter and sugar mixture. Fold in the diced apples, then mix in the remaining dry ingredients.

6. Place the dough on a floured surface and add flour to the top of the dough. Press the dough into a ½” disk. Chill for 15 minutes, or until the dough is firm.

7. Cut out your donuts using a cookie cutter (or a pint glass rim). Cut out the donut holes using a shot glass. Use leftover dough to form more donut holes.

8. Transfer donuts and donut holes to a greased baking sheet or parchment paper. Bake for 10 minutes.

9. While the donuts are baking, mix together butter, powdered sugar and vanilla in one bowl. In another bowl, combine ½ cup sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.

Cook’s note: If you want crispier donuts, flash fry them after baking in a ¼ cup of oil until browned. Immediately dust with cinnamon and sugar, or drizzle glaze over the donuts before allowing to cool. Or eat immediately with a cup of leftover cider.

In case our recipes don’t fulfill your appetite, here’s another 50 mouthwatering recipes that I hope can do the trick.

Does your family have a secret apple recipe you love? Have you made any of our above dishes? What’s your favorite apple recipe?