Very Lazy Fall Apple Butter

I love apples.  I try to eat one a day, if not more.  Last weekend, we went up to Stuart’s Farm for a friend’s apple picking birthday party (genius!).  After gathering about 50 pounds of apples with friends and consuming an amazing amount of cider donuts, we came home with 18.5 pounds of apples.  What to do?  First up, Lazy Apple Butter, which used to be featured on my first food blog “Combustication” and is up on the web no longer.  This blast from the past was made by peeling, coring and chopping enough apples to completely fill a crockpot, adding about 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, a pinch of salt and a freshly ground teaspoon of cloves and a cinnamon stick.  Add more or less sugar to your liking and let the crockpot do its thing for about 8 hours on low.  If the apple butter is not dark enough or is still pretty thin, take off the lid and let it cook down on low for about an hour.  Trust your judgement.  If it tastes good and sticks to a spoon, can it!

This is pretty much the recipe and canning tips I followed.  Came out with 1 half-pint, 4 pints, 1-16 oz jar and some left over!  Holiday presents here we come!

Apples in Crockpot

I love how this…

Apple Butter Transformation

Turns to this…

Apple Butter

Then into all of these!!!

Autumn Millet Bake & Irish Soda Bread

It started raining a bit today and while it wasn’t chilly, it’s still fall!  On a fantastic post-election day, we decided to make Bittman’s Autumn Millet Bake.  I saw a gorgeous photo of it on 101 Cookbooks on Monday before we went the Coop and decided to get the ingredients.  Pumpkins are pretty cheap and offer a lot of value for the money.  I used about half of a smallish pumpkin in this recipe and it was plenty.  The rest of the pumpkin I chopped up and it’s being saved for something.  Instead of buying pumpkin seeds, I roasted the ones from the pumpkin with salt, pepper and a bit of Garam Masala.  The spices really went well with the millet bake and make for a beautiful presentation.  I could definitely see this served as a side for Thanksgiving.


Autumn Millet Bake (Adapted from Bittman’s How to Cook Everything)

1/4 cup olive oil (I actually forgot to use it since I usually toast millet in a dry skillet)
3/4 cup millet
1 small pumpkin (or medium squash) , peeled, seeded and cut into 1″ cubes
1 cup (I used 1.5) fresh cranberries
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage leaves (use!) or 1 tsp dried
2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
1 cup vegetable stock or water, warmed
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds or coarsely chopped hazlenuts

To Do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F and grease a 2-quart casserole dish that can go in the oven with olive oil.
  2. Put 2 tablespoons of oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the millet and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and golden, about 3 minutes. Spread in the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
  3. Scatter the pumpkin or sqaush cubes and the cranberries on top of the millet. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and sage and drizzle with syrup. Carefully pour warm stock (I used water) all over the dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake, without disturbing, for 45 minutes.
  4. Carefully uncover and turn the oven up to 400F. Sneak a taste (try not to disturb the prettiness of the dish) and if it’s too dry or under-seasoned, add more water or seasoning. Sprinkle pumpkin seeds on top and return dish to the oven until mixture bubbles and the top is browned (about 10 minutes). Serve hot or at room temperature.

soda bread

Irish Soda Bread (Adapted from Bittman’s How to Cook Everything)

butter or oil for baking pan
about 1.5 cups buttermilk or yogurt or 1.5 cups milk plus 1/5 tbsp white vinegar*
2 cups AP flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder

To Do:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Grease baking sheet with butter or oil.
  2. If you’re using buttermilk or yogurt, ignore this step. If not, make soured milk by warming the milk gently in a microwave (about a minute) and add vinegar. Let it rest while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Bittman says this is easy to combine by hand, but you can also do it in a food processor – which we did. Combine all dry ingredients and mix to combine. Add enough of the milk to make a soft, but not stciky dough. Process for 30 seconds in food processor or knead for 3 minutes by hand. Let dough rest for a few minutes with a cover on top.
  4. Shape the dough into a round loaf. Slash the top with a knife three times and bake for at least 45 minutes or until golden brown. The bread should sound hollow when you thump the bottom (internal temp should be 210F). Let cool thoroughly before cutting into slices or wedges.

Raisins and/or caraway seeds can be added to the dough if you want some extra bits.

*We used soy milk and rice vinegar since that was all we had. The bread tasted great!