Archive for the ‘Apples’ Category

Poor girl is more apple than tree!

Don’t ask how I know she’s a girl, I just know (okay, so I spied her fishnets.)

We’re buried here, and if you’ve got a bushel of your own to dispatch, you could make some of my all-natural, sugar-free pink applesauce.  The sauce can also be canned as it is, no recipe edits necessary.

So applesauce and pie filling, breads, cakes, muffins, and fresh eating, shrunken heads, squirrel weapons…

Hmm, isn’t something missing from this homestead?  Haven’t I left something out?


Recipe to be posted here, so keep your pretty eyes peeled for it.  We’re making a 5-gallon keg this year, and have been hunting for unsprayed crab apples to throw into the mix.  They add a nice hit of tannins to the cider and give the finished moonshine a sour green apple taste.

What’s getting you in the mood for hot cider, Halloween, chilly breezes, zombie movies, and long talks about Mastodon in front of a roaring fire?  Not quite there yet?  Could it be you need one of my Homemade Pumpkin Lattes to ease you in?  And a cider donut?  And a corn dog rolled in a bowl of candy corn?*

*Bad Mama Genny assumes no risk for any morbid obesity that may result from your taking her advice.  Suggestions are probably sicker and more twisted than they appear on this blog.

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Confession time for Bad Mama Genny: I’ve been using my Crockpot a lot lately.  Also, my text software just tried to edit “Crockpot” to read “crack pot”.

Please let it be known that I have not been using my crack pot a lot lately.

It’s addictive, that thing.

The Crockpot, not the crack pot.

Okay, you know what?  We’re gonna call it a slow cooker from this point forward.

So I’ve been using the slow cooker a lot lately, and once you get started and master a few basics, it’s actually pretty amazing and easy to end up with very nice food that doesn’t always taste like beef stew.

Unless it’s beef stew, and then it tastes like beef stew.  Or, at least, it should.  And if you have a problem with that, well, why were you making beef stew in the first place?

So last night I felt that it wasn’t enough to make salmon croquettes with lemon aioli and a side of steamed spinach and artichokes for dinner.  Hmm, surely there’s SOME ridiculous project I could start too late in the day?…I know!  I know!


Except I’m not a glutton for punishment (lie, totally am, but still) and I’ve burned more than my fair share of granola by leaving it in the oven for 0.29 seconds too long.  This here granola is a delicate business, folks.  And I just wasn’t up for a delicate project.

I’d heard that you could make substantially less finicky granola in a slow cooker, but only recently did I look into it for really reals.   And you know where you should go for the basics?

Right here, to Stephanie O’Dea’s site.  She’s the genius behind the cookbook, “Make it Fast, Cook it Slow,” a bible for those of you who heart your slow cooker big time.  Or your Crockpot.  Or heck, even your crack pot.

I didn’t use Stephanie’s granola recipe, and decided instead to go off in my own direction.  See, while O’Dea’s recipe calls for two liquid components–butter and honey–mine adds a third: fruit puree.  what worked for me was 1/2 cup fat, 1/2 cup sweet stuff, 1/2 cup fruit puree.  This cuts down on the amount of fat and sugar you need, adds flavor, and–oh, fluffernutter!–gives you even more scope for the imagination when it comes to cool taste combos.

Yesterday I made pumpkin granola.  I used pureed sugar pie pumpkin and added cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and a pinch of nutmeg.  Three words: OM NOM NOM.

I wish I could explain just how good this smelled while it cooked.  But I can’t.  They just haven’t invented Smell-o-Vision yet.  Or the Smell-ternet.

So now that we’ve added that fruit component, let’s review just a few of the taste combinations that come to mind:

Pumpkin puree with pecans, raisins, pie spices, and butter.

Apple butter with walnuts, pumpkin seeds, raisins, pie spices, and butter.

Any fruit puree you desire, or none, with maple syrup instead of honey, and walnuts

Coconut oil instead of butter, banana puree, banana chips (or dehydrated banana, added after cooling), macadamia nuts, chunks of dried pineapple, and shaved, unsweetened coconut

Cherries and almonds.  Mmmm….

Apple butter with blueberries, almonds, and butter…just like a muffin!

Banana puree with walnuts and butter, and dehydrated bananas added after cooling…like banana nut bread!

Pumpkin puree with dried cranberries and pecans…perfect for Thanksgiving breakfast!

Basically, what I’m saying here is: this is the easiest granola you will ever make.  You will not go back to burning tray after tray of granola in the oven and sobbing all over your own The Boy while he tries to console you about all those wasted ingredients.  And the sky’s the limit with this recipe–if you can imagine it, you can do it!

Who’s that on the phone?  It’s Legal?  And they’re telling me I can’t guarantee that if you can imagine it, you can do it?

Okay, revision.  More like, if you can imagine it, you can try it, be my guest, but I won’t be held responsible for the results.

There, that’s better.  Legal should be happy with that.

Hey, what are you still doing here?  Shouldn’t you be playing with your crack pot?  I mean, Crockpot.  I mean, slow cooker.

Damn. Legal again.

Crockpot Granola, a Jillion Different Ways

Go Get:

5 cups oats
1/2 cup honey (or maple syrup, etc.)
1/2 cup butter (or coconut oil, or Earth Balance, or half butter/half peanut butter, etc.)
1/2 cup fruit puree of your choice
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons wheat germ
1/2 cups sliced almonds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 cup dried fruit and/or dehydrated fruit (Trader Joe’s, among other places, sells fruit that’s been dehydrated–the second it comes into contact with moisture, it rehydrates and becomes soft again.  While dried fruit can be added during cooking, I’d hold off on adding dehydrated fruit until you’re bagging the cooled mixture.)

Toss all ingredients except for dried fruit (and any dehydrated fruit you may be using) into the stoneware and set it to high.  Don’t bother melting the fat and honey together first, as O’Dea recommends.  While this is a nice touch, I can’t bear the thought of washing an extra pot when I’m already using the slow cooker.  Call me crazy.  Vent the slow cooker by sticking a wooden spoon in between the lid and the stoneware.  This will help your granola to lose excess moisture.

During the first hour, your butter will melt and you’ll want to make sure it gets evenly distributed, along with the honey or whatever other sweetener you’re using, throughout the dry ingredients.  Watch this stuff–you won’t have to stir much at the beginning, but as your granola gets further along, you’ll wanna give it a stir every few minutes or, as O’Dea says, whenever you can smell it cooking.

When you’re 2/3 of the way through, put in your dried fruit (NOT yet on the dehydrated fruit).  O’Dea has you adding everything at the beginning.  This does work, but my fruit got a bit dark where it touched the stoneware.  I’d hold off next time.

And that’s it!  Keep stirring every so often, and after 3 to 4 hours, everything will look nice and toasty.  It will NOT be dried out.  I’d say, when everything’s golden brown and there’s no excess moisture, you’re probably there.  Toss the mixture onto some parchment-lined cookie sheets and let it cool.  Once the mixture is cool, you can add any dehydrated fruits you’ve been holding onto and put it all into an airtight container or gallon-size ziploc bag.

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Autumn is my favorite season, misfits…HANDS DOWN.

What does that mean, anyway, “hands down”?  Wouldn’t “hands up” imply more excitement, a la your Bad Mama Genny raises her hands in the air and waves them around in the manner of having nary a care?  But I digress.

Anyhoo, this crisp, clean fall air always makes me want to do one thing: sign a fetus over to Satan a la Rosemary’s Baby.

Oh, wait, that’s not right.

This crisp, clean fall air always makes me want to do one thing: apple picking. Probably some hangup from childhood, when I was raised by wolves and used to sleep in an apple tree so they wouldn’t accidentally tear me to pieces while dreaming about chasing bunnies.

Am I kidding or am I not, the world may never know.

But whatever my reason, there’s one thing that’s crystal clear to everybody: I will insist on picking in ridiculous quantities and any attempt to moderate my behavior will cause me to have a massive, dramatic, and scene-making seizure and then die in the naysayer’s arms.

Or maybe what happens is slightly less severe than that, but never you mind your pretty little heads about such details.

So The Boy and I spent a clear, luscious Sunday at the orchard climbing, lugging, juggling, falling over, causing ruckuses, and carefully considering how to maximize our bushel.  After loading our goods into the trunk (and just barely passing bag overfill inspection by some extremely scrupulous farmers who gave my fishnets a skeptical eye), we plotsed ourselves down onto a bench in a sunny spot of the orchard.  The two of us shared a cool pint of homemade cider and a few hot, fluffy apple cider doughnuts, fresh from the fryer.  These babies were fall personified.  If donuts were persons.  Fine, they were fall donuttified.

Mmm, donuttifying things.

Unexpected bonus: never had we inspired such fear and suspicion in our fellow New Yorkers as when they saw us approaching with our bushel of shiny new produce.

“Hark, it is the pale ones,” they said to themselves.

“But what of the crimson orbs the tall one carries?”

Or at least, that’s what I imagine they said–pedestrians passing by readily offered their comments, but they were rarely in English.  Of course, The Boy disagrees–he feels nothing but shame at what he assumes those landscapers were saying about his apples between enthusiastic whistles.

And so, having had the full reality of just how many apples we’d picked graciously driven home by our neighbors, I set to work making room in the refrigerator and brainstorming some applications.  Applesauce it was–but not the pale, sugary mess in a jar you might be used to seeing on store shelves. These apples didn’t need any sweetener at all.  They were sweet enough already.  They were well-behaved and chaste and good and OH JUST EVERYTHING THAT YOU AND I ARE NOT.

In fact, if you use a sweet, red, thin-skinned apple variety that’s been grown without sprays, you won’t even need to peel them.  This’ll get ya’ a gorgeous pink applesauce that just screams “misfit.”   You barely need a recipe for this, dudes and dudettes, and it’s perfect for freezing in batches, serving with crisp potato latkes and a brisket, using in recipes, or just enjoying as is.

So what did we do with the rest of the apples? A few are still taking up valuable refrigerator real estate, but some went toward a batch of Apple-Cherry Oatmeal Bars, others we’ve enjoyed as-is, and the rest went to two gallons of from-scratch Hard Apple Cider.

What, you thought I had enough shame not to drag moonshine into this?  HARDLY!

So did our excess of apples teach me a lesson about letting fall fever cloud my judgment? Absolutely–if I could do it all over again, I’d pick twice as many.  Then I wouldn’t be making a trip back to upstate New York tomorrow for another bushel.


Sugar-Free Pink Applesauce
Makes approx. 1/2 cup finished sauce per apple (I used 20 Cortlands and had 5 pints for the freezer)

Go Get:
Da apples, thin-skinned, sweet, red variety, grown without sprays

Go Do:
Wash the apples thoroughly; then quarter and core them.  Put enough water into a large pot (think Dutch Oven size) pot to cover the bottom by 1/2 inch, and add your apples.  Put a medium-high flame under the pot and occasionally stir up from the bottom to redistribute the apples.  Cook until the apples are very soft, about 20 minutes, adding more water to prevent scorching as necessary.  Allow the mixture to cool enough to safely handle, and then run it through the food processor until the skin is only visible as tiny red flecks in the sauce (You can also put it through a food mill, if you’re bitchin’ enough to have a food mill; I’m currently slightly less bitchin’ than that, but still bitchin’ enough to make pink applesauce which is STILL ALL KINDS OF BITCHIN’ SO RESERVE JUDGMENT MMKAY?). Cool the applesauce completely, divide it into containers, and refrigerate or freeze.

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