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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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Our house has always embraced the old fashioned, outdated qualities that slow living provides.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.

 

In the Kitchen

I had a few days on my own this last week. I took full advantage of the quiet to spend some time in the kitchen.  It also allowed for lots of geekery in the photography aspect of my life. Food photos are always a favorite for me.

Polenta2

I tend to gravitate to lighter fare when I am cooking solo.  Polenta has been a long time favorite for me, so I thought I would make a pretty little dish. Here are the easy instructions.

Roasted Vegetable with Goat Cheese over Polenta Patties

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You’ll Need:

  • Veggies for roasting
  • Goat Cheese
  • 1 Cup unprepared Polenta
  • Olive Oil

The How-To:

1. Prepare your polenta on the stove as directed

2. Pour into a casserole dish and cool in the fridge

3. Roast vegetables with a light spray of olive oil and a pinch of saltpolenta3

4. Using a circular cutter or a glass, create patties from your cooled polentaPolenta4

5. Place patty on plate, slice/crumble goat cheese, and top with vegetables

6. Enjoy with a glass of wine

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Easy Apple Chips

I don’t make resolutions. I  only make goals. This year, I’ve set the goal to be a happier, healthier me- mind, body, soul.

Food would be a big part of living healthier. I tend to go to lighter fare, but can find myself seeking sweets. All. the. time. Cold fruits get slightly monotonous for me, so I’m always seeking something healthy, easy to pack, and delicious. Finding myself without a dehydrator (would use too much counter space, I have to improvise.  Baked Apple Chips. Recipe/DIY at bottom.

You’ll need:

2 of your favorite apples

1 cup of apple juice

Cinnamon (for taste)

Tools: Mandoline Slicer, cookie sheets, cooling racks (parchment paper)

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1. Slice your apples into the thinnest slices your cutter allows.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cookie sheets with parchment paper (trust me, this will save sticky scrubbing later)

3. Soak in apple juice with cinnamon in a bowl for 20 minutes

4. Line apples onto cooling racks without overlapping.

5. Put cooling rack onto cookie sheet.

6. Bake for 25 Minutes at 350 degrees.

7. Turn heat off, open oven to cool it a bit, and keep an eye on the apples.

8. When apples are dry, take off racks and enjoy or put in seal-able container for fresh keeping.

From Portland West to Portland East

I needed a vacation. Like get away and discover something new- relax, sleep, and unplug kind of vacation.  I found myself driving to Portland Oregon to hop a plane east to Boston, Massachusetts.

I’ve been to Boston a few times over the last few years. It is the home of the tea party, the Red Sox, Paul Revere, and of course my best friend.  Knowing that she was a worker bee during the week, I opted for adventure and took a train to Portland, Maine.

I am so glad that I did- I found the town to be charming, friendly, and diverse.

Amtrak made it almost too easy to get there via the Downeaster. On my walk into town from the train, I found the Inn at St. James which provided lovely accommodations last minute for a heck of a deal.

I wandered through town, finding little gems around town, and more specifically in Old Port including places like Motifs,  Portland Dry Goods, and Toko Indo.

I snacked at the Salt Exchange for a watermelon & feta salad, Bam Bam Bakery, for a latte and the world’s gooiest macaroon,  and indulged in many beers and an authentic Lobster Roll at Boone’s on the 2nd floor deck. Evening indulgence was furthered with a cup of chowder at  Eventide and the most decadent scoop of hazelnut chocolate gelato at the Gelato Fiasco. Needless to say, it was a food lover’s paradise.

I walked every calorie off going up and down THE hill several times back to the inn and walking the Eastern Promenade.

Even with so much time walking, I certainly didn’t take a lot of photos. I think that was the point for me- I wanted some time to just unwind. Here are the few I managed to capture.

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Suburban Homesteading

Although I’ve grown fond of my current home, I don’t quite belong in the suburban area of Olympia. I am naturally drawn to the extremes of a big city or small town.  Lately, it’s definitely been on the smaller side of things. This is best demonstrated when I use my spare time to do a little homesteading. This can be anywhere from using local flora for decor, or making preserves from local bounties.

After a trip to my Gram’s orchard, I found myself with two large crates of our family pears amongst apples and Italian prunes.  In hopes of avoiding waste (and fruit flies), I took to the kitchen with mason jars and some patience. Pears were 1st.

The method is so simple:

Wash & Rinse

Cut pears in half

Remove the core

Peel and chunk

Add a squeeze of local honey and lemon juice in the bottom of each jar

Add the pears with some hot water

And finish in a water bath to seal

No unnatural additives, just pure, sweet home pears.

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Garden Pesto Pasta

Our garden is overflowing this year, but of only with a few things at a time.  Each week has brought a new bounty from the containers.  I had a lot of basil this week. Basil=Pesto in my mind (that is, when I don’t have fresh mozzarella cheese).

Our tomatoes aren’t quite ready, so I opted for the local baby heirlooms around.

With these ingredients, my stomach was begging for pasta. Recipe is included below:
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Here is what you’ll need:

2 handfuls of basil

About a 1/4 olive oil

4 cloves of garlic

veggies of any kind, I chose tomatoes and zucchini

a little of the “shaky parmesan cheese”

 

Here is the Garden Pesto Pasta Recipe- it is super scientific:

Add basil, garlic, cheese, and olive oil to the food processor, or blender in my case, and blend until only small flecks of basil are floating around in there.

Next, cut your veggies, I used about 12 baby tomatoes and a few large slices of zucchini. Place on a cooking sheet, drizzle a little olive oil and salt, roast in the oven for a few minutes.  In that time, cook about two cups of pasta. I like firm pasta, so I chose bowtie.

First layer pasta, then veggies, then pesto, and a little more cheese.

This is a perfect meal or a great side dish in the summer if you have an incredible amount of basil, tomatoes, and zucchini.