Homemade Applesauce – it’s not too late!

I admit I was a little late embracing apple season. By the time I finally made it out to Linvilla Orchards, pick-your-own season had just ended. Luckily, they still had plenty of apples. I bought a big box of “seconds” – apples with slight blemishes that are still great for cooking and half the price!

Victorio Strainer
The thought of peeling, coring and slicing all of those apples made me a bit faint-of-heart, but I borrowed my friend Merridy’s vintage Victorio Strainer. My mom has one, and knowing it’s super powers, I didn’t consider making applesauce without one. Here’s the deal: You just chop of the apples, and boil them in a little water and cider until very soft.
the "funnel"

Then you just take a big old measuring cup and dump the apples in the “funnel” of the old Victorio. Save the liquid, as it’s great for boiling more apples, or as a sweet vegetable soup base.

the sauce

All you have to do then is crank the handle and the applesauce slides hot and delicious down the shoot, into your waiting bowl. The peel, core and seeds are miraculously separate and drop into a different bowl. Some people use these peels as moistening additions in breads and muffins.

Cooking

The last step? Add your desired spices (I like nutmeg, cinnamon and star anise) and cook for a bit over medium heat. Now eat it all – fresh applesauce is amazing – or can it, or freeze it. Later, in those cold winter months, you’ll be so glad you did.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

I love acorn squash. It’s so cute and hardy and can be cooked in so many ways! Growing up, my parents used to make stuffed squash at least twice a month. While many people stuff squash with sausage, you’ll be happy to know that you can stuff squash with just about anything! You just need to decide if you’re looking for a savory or a sweet dish.

savory
1. A grain. Think brown rice, couscous, bulgar, barley, quinoa, even a firm polenta.
2. A crunch. Nuts or seeds, to taste!
3. Herbs and spices. For savory, think thyme, sage, oregano, hot pepper.
4. Vegetables. For savory, think peppers, garlic, tomatoes (or sauce) hot peppers, etc.

sweet
1. A grain. See above.
2. A crunch. A crunch. Nuts or seeds, or both!
3. Herbs and spices. For sweet, think cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, brown sugar, ginger, cardomom,, brown sugar, honey.
4. Fruit. For sweet, think dried fruits and berries (cranberries, apricots, raisin etc.) and fresh chopped apples, celery etc.

When I stuff acorn squash, once I’ve made my sweet/savory decision, I usually just use whatever I have in my house. For the squash above:

1. Preheat the over to 375 degrees. Pre-cook the squash by pricking the skin and microwaving on “high” for 5 minutes.
2. In a med. skillet, fry 1/4 a finely chopped onion with two garlic cloves and one stalk of chopped celery.
3. Meanwhile, place one cup of red quinoa in a sauce pan with one cup of water. Bring to boil, then simmer until the quinoa sprouts tails – about 5 minutes. Don’t let the pan go dry, and add small amounts of water, as needed.
4. Add the fried onions and garlic to the cooked quinoa. Add a generous pinch of thyme and sage. Add 1/4 cup raisins and a cored and finely chopped apple. Add 1/4 cup of pecans. Stir.
5. Carefully cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Fill the squash halves with the stuffing and place in a small casserole dish, filled sides up. Pour 1 cup of water into the casserole, then cover with tin foil. Bake for 30 minutes.

NYC, East Village: Yuca Bar

brunch

What to do when you wake up on a beautiful, sunny morning in NYC, ravenous. Go to brunch. While I was heading somewhere else, the outdoor seating, pre fixe brunch (complete with bloody mary and huevos rancheros) detoured me to Yuca Bar. Lucky enough to score an outside table on a busy morning, we waited, and waited, and waited, and then were delighted to finally order and have our water glasses filled.

huevos rancheros

I usually can’t resist huevos rancheros on any menu. And then I add hot sauce. This brunch was no different. But the huevos were unique – laid out on top of a queso — absolutely oozing with cheese. Half way through the dish, I started regretting ordering sides.

potatoes
A mixture of sweet and white potatoes, with onions, and just a touch of spice.

rice and beans

Because when you’re having a cuban brunch, you have to order rice and beans. Of course, I was so full that I could hardly touch them. Overall, Yuca Bar is a nice spot, with very slow ordering service and food that arrives very quickly. The huevos were a standout. While the sides sound exciting, they are a little bland, and you won’t have room for them anyway!

Yuca Bar on Urbanspoon

NYC, LES: SobaKoh

Soba

What to do when you’ve made a trip to New York on a Sunday, only to find the restaurant you intended to visit is closed on Sundays (bad, Dirt Candy, bad)? Take a friends advice and go for soba. “It just seems healthy,” he said, and he is right. But really, more vegetables would up that help. A huge selection, though, and I had a lovely hot soba with fried tofu, shredded radish, and cilantro. SobaKoh makes all their own noodles, too, which is a treat. A quick belly-filler before it was time to hop back on the Bolt Bus!

<a href=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/3/39804/restaurant/East-Village/Sobakoh-New-York”><img alt=”Sobakoh on Urbanspoon” src=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/logo/39804/biglogo.gif&#8221; style=”border:none;width:104px;height:34px” /></a>

Delicious Greens and Faux-Southen food

faux-southern

What to do with a pile of greens that’s interesting, fast and delicious? I had a huge pile of kale and bored with all my old ideas. A little flip through Simply in Season saved the night with their kale with peanut sauce recipe. Organic peanut butter, garlic, red onions, and the result was delicious greens. I rounded out the meal with some quickly boiled sweet potatoes and local tofu, dredged in rice milk then cornmeal, quick-fried in the and the skillet. As fast as ordering out, much healthy and cheaper, and a great little comfort dinner.

Another Local Fall Dinner Party

local fall dinner partyWhy a dinner party? Because the Phillies were playing, and because my CSA was bursting out baskets. Pre-game we all sat down for dinner and wine and cheer, which helped us later, when we lost the game terribley.

I love spaghetti squash, and served it with a homemade heirloom tomatoe and roasted garlic sauce that I made in the summer and froze. Yellow and orange sweet potatoe were roasted with a touch of butter and fresh sage from the garden. Slightly bitter dandelion greans were tossed with an olive and truffle oil dressing and sprinkled with roasted squash seeds. Metropolitan made the bread, and an unpictured apple crisp lay in wait for later, when we ate it the hot cider and whiskey. B ad game, delicious dinner.

Fall at Linvilla Orchards

Gourds

I finally made it out to Linvilla Orchard last weekend and had a great time enjoying their Fall bounty. I had hoped to pick apples, but I just missed the season. Luckily for me, Linvilla still has thousands of apples to purchase at their market, along with goards galore and a huge crates of varied pumpkins.

Indian Corn

I was seriously tempted by the selection of Indian corn, especially the deep red colors. At the last minute, I remembered that I had some stored above my kitchen cabinets, in case I really got excited about Thanksgiving decorating.

MumsInitially I thought that I was going to buy some deep red mums, and got very excited about the selection at the Orchard. Though I passed a lot of mums a at garden stores along the way, I was glad I waited, as these looked much better!

Ornamental CabbageAnd then I saw the beautiful ornamental cabbage and changed my mind. I’ve wanted some of these in the pots on my front porch for years, but always have trouble finding them in city. If I ever have time to plant them, they’ll be colorful long into the cold season. And really, don’t even get me started on the apples. I have a house full of pies.