Crisping those Saucy Apples

Adam here.

Take a look at that Apple Crisp from a few days ago. It’s gone now. It was weak and in this house the weak are cut into pieces and eaten. Preferably with ice cream.

(Laura points out that it was not, in fact, weak. It was full of delicious Jack Daniels whiskey.)

Anywho – since we lost our buffer and the pictures of the pie for which the aforementioned saucy apples were intended I thought I would salve my conscience by providing y’all with the recipe for the aforementioned Apple Crisp. Without further ado:

Apple Crisp

  • 4 – 5 small, firm cooking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup of dried cranberries
  • 1.5 Tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup of Jack Daniels whiskey (+ a smidge of Grand Marnier or Cointreau)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated if you can), 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Smidge of cooking oil
  • Crisp Topping
    • 1 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup oatmeal (or granola)
    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon of allspice
    • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves

Put the apples and dried cranberries into a medium sized ziplock with everything except the crisp topping. Flip the bag round and round, up and down, round and round, etc. until the apples are well and truly coated with goodness. Now put that into your fridge and let it sit for a day or two.

Yes. I want you to soak the apples in whiskey and spices for, at least, 24 hours.

Has it been 24+ hours? No? Put it back. It’s not done yet.

Now has it been 24+ hours? Good.

Pre-heat your oven to 375.

Get out a medium sized casserole dish. Put that smidge of oil into the bottom and use a paper towel (or clean cloth for the environmentally friendly) to coat the bottom and sides lightly. Spread the apples and dried cranberries evenly in the casserole. Reserve the whiskey and spices. Take a deep whiff. Isn’t that good?

Now for the crisp part: in a large bowl, put your sugar, flour, and oatmeal and use a ricer/pastry cutter to evenly mix everything. Add the butter and cut it into the sugar/flour until the mixture is made of pea-sized, buttery bits. Take about a 1/4 cup of the topping and spread it out over the top of the apples and pour the spiced whiskey over it, make sure to get everything nice and damp. Now spread the rest of the mix over the top of your apples and dot the surface with a few pinky-nail sized bits of butter.

Cover it with foil and slide it in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until the topping is browned and the apples are bubbling.

Enjoy. With ice cream if you got it.


Triple Berry Quick Jam

Buh, buh, buh, Ba! First Laura post with an actual recipe!

Recipe count: 66 left to try
Section count: Condiments – 2 left

So this weekend, I was in Wegmans on our weekly grocery run, in the fresh fruit section when I see them – blackberries and raspberries on sale(ish).

Programing note: I love blackberries. If Adam and I ever have a yard, there will be blackberry bushes even if this means there is nothing else in the yard. Not even grass.

Not only were there blackberries and raspberries, but also I knew I had waiting for me at home a recipe for blackberry, raspberry and strawberry jam. Jam that requires no pectin and no canning, canning being a cooking adventure/skill I have not yet begun to learn. Jam that I had wanted to make last week but the other grocery store was out of blackberries. Jam that would use up most of the remaining strawberries I had sitting in the fridge, as I wondered how to use them up before they began to rot. (Remind me to share with y’all the berry washing method I picked up from – keeps those suckers fresh/non-rotting for a week/week-and-a-half.)

Those blackberries and raspberries came home with us, oh yes they did. Really, the hardest part of this recipe was not eating the produce before hand.

Changes from the original recipe: The recipe may have called for a pint of raspberries and ½ a pint of blackberries, but really, I just tossed both plastic clamshells (~6oz?) in the pot. I did measure the strawberries, but mostly because the 2-cup measuring cup was a convenient place to hold the strawberry slices. Currently our pantry only houses white sugar as I try and use it up, but it worked – in the future, I will preferentially use cane or turbinado sugar, but that’s ‘cause I’m something of an anti-big agriculture/processed foods hippie. Whatever, the Domino’s white sugar worked. Finally, I’m currently lacking in lemon zest and substituted in a tsp. of orange peel. Yes, I have orange peel in a spice tub, but not lemon zest. Thank you Dekalb County Farmer’s Market (Dekalb, GA) – my once yearly pilgrimages to thee keep the spice pantry stocked for years. Will be checking for lemon zest this Christmas. Also, what is with using a bowl to combine the berries and sugar – I tossed them together in the pot I cooked everything in – one less bowl to clean.

I got two 1.25-cup jars of jam out of this – one for the fridge, to be eaten over the next month, and one for the freezer, for when the first runs out.

My recipe (after modifications to [originating recipe:])

  • 1 clamshell/~6oz fresh raspberries
  • 1 clamshell/~60z fresh blackberries
  • 1 3/4 cups fresh strawberries, hulled & thickly sliced (measured after slicing)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

1. In a heavy pot, combine the berries and sugar; allow to sit for about 10 minutes or until the sugar has begun to dissolve into the fruit. Place on the burner over medium heat; bring to a boil. Add the salt, lemon zest and juice; reduce heat to medium-low.

2. Allow the berries to gently simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the fruit breaks down the mixture starts to cook down, thickening slightly. If the fruit isn’t breaking down on its own, use the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher (or say [expletive] this and use a stick blender) to break it down.

3. When almost done, the jame will still be loose (it’ll firm up more as it cools), but should coat the back of a wooden spoon. Remove the jam from the heat and pour into clean glass jar(s) to cool. Cap it and allow to cool completely before putting in the refrigerator or freezer

Keeps in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

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Recipe Insanity

(Or: How Laura cooks from recipes in the kitchen)
(Also known as: the last thing you ought to know about Laura before she finally starts posting some frackin’ recipe reviews)

So, one of my first cookbooks, back during the summer after freshman year of college was the Joy of Cooking. Actually these days we have 3 copies of the Joy of Cooking on our shelves – the 1997 edition I brought to the marriage, the 1974 edition Adam swipped from his parents and brought to the marriage, and the 75th Anniversary edition we bought because it was on the shelves of a used book store, $15 and gosh darn it, we needed a better version than the 1997 edition.

Loved ones do not give or use the 1997 edition of the Joy of Cooking. Not when there are better editions in the universe.

Any rate, so there I am in my parents’ kitchen trying to learn something about cooking. But… but… the ingredients aren’t at the front of the recipe? Shouldn’t you get everything together on the counter before you start? What if you don’t have something? Or not enough of something else?

Apparently, I had imprinted on my snickerdoodle recipe’s method of presentation. Because my brain just would not process the double column, ingredients (with measurements) embedded format from the Joy of Cooking.

So, I leafed through the book (yes, the entire book), noting what looked interesting, and then copied out/rewrote the recipes I wanted to try, moving the ingredients to the head.

I wasn’t stupid, I used a computer and typed (luckily, my high school wouldn’t let you pass computer class without a 40 wpm typing speed).

Except, I still couldn’t process the recipe while I was cooking. Didn’t matter that I had read it over twice before starting. Didn’t matter that the ingredients were sitting out, ready to be measured. I just could not keep what I was supposed to do in my brain long enough to actually do it. Led to quite a few burnt and overcooked dishes.

So I copied the recipes out again. By hand. Yes, I wrote out the recipes in cursive (do schools even still teach that anymore?) And I’ve been doing it ever since.

I’m up to three binders – main entrees, desserts, and everything else (appetizers, side dishes, vegetables, bread, etc.). Well, plus the binder of random cooking and food related information. Oh, and the one of Great-Grandma Helen’s collection of recipes from her friends. One of these days, I really need to start working through that binder, figuring out cooking times and/or temperatures. Great-Grandma would record the ingredients and either oven temperature or cooking time, never both. And no instructions on how to combine the ingredients. Because why would you need those?

Any rate, 3 binders in regular use, each divided into various sections. The Entree binder is divided by protein type, mostly: Vegetarian, Beef, Pork & Lamb, Poultyr, Pasta, Fish, Agnostic, and finally Sauces, Rubs & Marinades. The desserts are by end result type: Cookies, Cupcakes & Brownies, Dessert Breads, Cakes, Pies, Frosting, and Custards. The Miscellania binder, otherwise known as the black binder, has, well, everything else: Breakfast, Appetizers, Side dishes, Drinks, Vegetables, Pantry staples, Condiments, Snack Food, Dinner Bread, and Sandwich Bread. Yes, I have enough bread recipes that I separated them out by purpose.

I still copy out new recipes I’d like to try by hand – from new cookbooks, random ones off the internet, etc. I tend to build up a backlog of recipes waiting to be copied, work through those over a couple months and then let the backlog build back up while I try to cook my way through the untried, newly copied recipes. New recipes go in the front of their section, with the oldest on top. Every time I use a recipe it goes to the back of the section, allowing the things I haven’t made in a while to work their way to the front of the section, where I am more likely to choose them while meal planning. Or admit that I don’t particularly like that one and recycle it. I do have a rule – if I haven’t tried a new recipe within one year of copying it out (two years for desserts), into the recycling it goes. Rule two – I am allowed, at any point, to look at a recipe and toss it upon thinking ‘what was I smoking?’ – usual prompts for that: 2 hours in the oven, random ingredient I will never use in any other recipe, allow bread to rise for 24 hours, and such like.

So, how many recipes do I have to try, you ask? (You totally should, you know. Not as much fun around here without the call-and-response. )


Excuse me, I’m… I’m gonna go weed that a bit…