Cast Iron Apple Crisp

I’ve officially given in to autumn!  It has been such an unbelievably beautiful summer in the PNW, it is hard to think we have to trade it all in for our  grey and rainy usual. Today was sunny and crisp, so I thought I would honor the idea of autumn with a fresh apple crisp. I recently stopped by one of my favorite produce stands in Yakima Valley- Imperial’s Garden to pick up a few fall items this week and stumbled upon some lovely left alone apples for pennies on the dollar. They were just asking to be made into a delicious treat.

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Here is what you’ll need:

  • Cast Iron Skillet

For Filling:

  • 6 medium apples (peeled, cored, sliced)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon salt

For Topping:

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter (cold/firm)
  • 3 tablespoons flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter in skillet on medium low on cook top, adding sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, & salt. Once combined, add apples and allow to cook on medium for about 8 minutes or until apples show signs of softening.

Mix together topping ingredients using a food processor or a knife.  Take skillet off cook top, sprinkle topping mix evenly over the apple mix.

Place in the oven and bake at 350 for 35 minutes. Serve hot or cold- preferably with a caramel sauce or vanilla ice cream.

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Plum Fresh

Or should it be more appropriate to call it “Fresh Plum” today?share a bit of love DIY Plum Sauce1

I obtained a large basket of perfectly ripened Italian Plums this week from a colleague. To avoid the inevitable fruit flies that have run havoc around my kitchen this summer, I opted to make plum sauce.

Plum jam was really on my mind, but then I realized I was plum (ha!) out of my main canning staples. Enter Plum Sauce.  It just sounds decadent over vanilla ice cream, cheesecake, scones, goat cheese toast, or even as a glaze on a slow roasted turkey breast- doesn’t it?

Here is what is needed:

  • 4 cups of washed & halved Italian Plums
  • 1 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of lemon/lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice

In a large non reactive sauce pan, pour plums, sugar, spices and lemon juice. Simmer on low-medium for about an hour and a half while stopping to stir and to make sure the mixture doesn’t over boil.  220 (f) degrees should probably do the trick.  Your house will smell amazing. Meanwhile, prepare your jars for canning.  While the jars are still hot, spoon the sauce into each jar, and process using a water bath. Lick the delicious leftovers off the spoon and swoon at the late summer taste of beautiful Italian Plums.

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Fresh Eggs

We have this saying around our house that has us always in project mode- “why not?”.

We’ve had this corner of our suburban yard that has long housed a large purple rhododendron that was adored by me and despised by the Handsome. An agreement was made that it could be removed upon the addition of something really cool that doesn’t require pulling weeds.  Enter the chicken coop. (Why not? Remember?)

Crafted with our own four hands and a bunch of amazing reclaimed fence materials, in three (maybe 4) weeks after work and on weekends, we made this little gem.  It houses nesting boxes for three chickens, a roosting ladder, a window, garden space, and a small, self-contained chicken run. A friend had more than her share of mature hens and was happy to re-home three lovely ladies.  I will be introducing them in the future, one by one, as they allow me to hold and take their photo.

After getting them settled last night, we woke up to a beautiful brown egg this morning, only to be followed by two more by noon. We can’t wait to see how we do on the daily with this backyard flock, but if the eggs keep looking this beautiful, I think we will all get along just fine. Why not?

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In the Garden

I have this little piece of paradise. It happens to be in my very own backyard. It is so peaceful and calm- in the middle of the Suburban west. Slug destruction aside, this is a quiet little delicious sanctuary that I take pride in every time I clip a leaf of kale for salad or pull a carrot fresh from the soil.

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Market Finds

Oh, sweet Pacific Northwest Summer.  I love you.

The Olympia Farmer’s Market is currently packed with the most amazing produce- local farmers are really delivering the goods this year.  I picked up a few ingredients from three of my favorite vendors (Smoked Chicken from Johnson’s Smokehouse, Beets/Carrots from Kirsop Farm, Walla Walla Sweet Onions from The Fresh Approach, rosemary garlic bread from the San Francisco Street Bakery this week to throw together some smoked chicken stew.

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Those Hills

I have the opportunity to travel the state for my “real” job.  I spend about 1 week a month away from home.  This allows for a little exploration after the 8-5 day. I get to see towns and scenery that most people wouldn’t think to visit unless they were on the way to somewhere else. This month, I spent a week amongst the green, rolling Palouse. It was gorgeous. Every time I turned a corner, I lost my breath with the contrasting waves of color. There were charming little towns, old farm houses (swoon), and more empty roads than I’ve seen in a while.  The southeast corner of Washington makes you feel like you are in the middle of America filled with prairie land and hometown pride.

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Sweet Tooth

Our house has always embraced the old fashioned, outdated qualities that slow living provides.  I love technology in so many ways, but really admire the classics and the quality and pride of making something for yourself.

I recently had an ice cream making experience with my favorite ginger that was so successful we were trying to figure out ways to bring the “left overs” home more than a few hours away. Afterwards,  I scoured the web for my own little piece of ice cream history.  I found my very own antique maker thanks to In the Top Drawer via etsy.  After gathering my favorite (and locally sourced) ingredients, we were on to our frozen kitchen adventure.

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IceCream1

 

The Must Have:

    • Plenty of Ice & Salt for the bucket
    • 1 1/2 Cup half & half
    • 4 egg yolks
    • 1 Cup sugar
    • 1 1/2 Cup heavy whipping cream
    • FLAVOR: Fresh Strawberries (you can really add anything here

 The How To:

1. Heat the half & half in a sauce pan over low heat.

2. In a separate bowl, mix the egg yolks and sugar.

3. Slowly add the egg and sugar mixture into the saucepan.

4.Continue to cook on low heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon.

5. Add heavy whipping cream to the  mixture.

6. Pour everything into the metal canister and secure the lid.

7. Insert canister into bucket, surround with crushed ice, add salt, and crank it for almost 30 minutes or until there is resistance in the cream.

8. Pour into a freezer safe container and freeze over night.

9. Scoop and enjoy- even for breakfast.