Tag Archives: Apple


We have a home – four walls around us and a roof over our heads – a brick fireplace and rooms filled with musty old house smell. Moving, like so many big, exciting things in life, is hard work. Backs hurt at the end of the day a empty living room floor looks like a great place to collapse. We’re mostly moved in now, at least as much as we can be without things like dressers and bookshelves in which to put things away.


Persimmons from a friend were the star of Thanksgiving weekend.

Thanksgiving was the perfect break from schlepping stuff and swabbing floors. Lee and I spent the holiday with my aunt, mom, brother, and brother’s girlfriend at my aunt’s house in Carmel Valley. It was beeeeeautiful, needless to say, and the food was the kind of food you look forward to eating leftover meal after meal. We ate. We talked – caught up on old times and made plans for the future. We ran, hiked, swam, played with dogs, played cribbage, and watched wildlife.


There was a lot of this.


And this.


The table was lovely and the food didn’t even make it in front of the camera. There was turkey, lentil loaf for the vegetarians, roasted root vegetables, endive + persimmon + pomegranate seed salad, mashed potatoes, tabasco + asparagus quinoa, pumpkin cheesecake bars, and apple-pumpkin delight.


In short, I’ve been busy and blogging time has been just out of reach. This week, though, I’ll be back. I can’t miss out on writing about my favorite food season!


Filed under inspiration and musings, other goodies

Apple Maple Muffins (With Millet Flour)


If you ask me what my favorite season is, I will promptly answer “Fall”, without a doubt. Why, then, am I resisting fall’s arrival this year? I’m still buying summer squash, stone fruit, and corn. Hey, these things stay in season a lot longer here in California. Maybe my resistance comes from San Francisco’s goofy summer weather. Our warm, sunny days just started last week and will be gone by early October. Cool, foggy mornings and brisk afternoon breezes were the norm all summer long. I don’t have a problem with that, especially after living in the oppressive Caribbean heat for several months. I just can’t get into fall until it really feels like fall.

Something about visiting the East Coast last week made me crave fall apples like nothing else. Lee and I made a last minute trip for his grandmother’s memorial service but managed to visit three states in a short amount of time. We flew into Boston, spent the night in a nearby hotel with Lee’s family, and spent the next day at the service and post-service gathering in the Connecticut. The Connecticut countryside feels almost mystical to me. The grass is so green and the little stone walls are so quaint. It’s about at foreign as landscapes get to a Californian.

The next day, my 26th birthday, we were all the way up in Maine at Lee’s parents house. We lived there for a few months last summer so it truly felt like home. I must say, Maine was having better weather than SF. It was sunny and warm. The trees had not started changing yet. Still, something in the air smelled or felt like fall.

Lee and I were driving his MGB down a winding country road when I exclaimed that it would be fun to pick apples on my birthday and it was too bad apple season hadn’t started yet. It hadn’t? The next curve we rounded brought us to the local orchard and we pulled off as soon as we saw the you-pick sign for apples.


The trees were loaded. I mean loaded. The branches were heavy with apples and the air smelled sweet. The early season Macintosh and Cortland apples were a little tart but I like them that way. We tried really hard not to pick too many, knowing we’d be leaving in a couple days anyway, but it was so hard not to fill our bags. We left with 13 pounds of apples and vowed to eat as many as possible before our flight home.

One can only eat so many apples in one day. When it came time to pack our things, I just couldn’t leave our bounty behind. We boarded the plane with a bag of apples nestled in a carry-on.

I knew I had to bake something with the country-crossing apples. I guess this is an admission that fall has arrived to some part of my being. I started with a recipe from one of my thrift store cookbooks and adapted it to suit my pantry and my laziness. The millet flour was an experiment with a happy result. I expected these muffins to turn out dense and dry because of it but they surprised me with their fluffy texture. They are a bit crumbly, almost like corn muffins, and have that sandy, grainy texture as well. The millet flavor is sweet and subtle. It goes nicely with maple, I think. All in all, I’m excited about millet flour’s prospects as an addition to my baked goods.


Apple Maple Muffins (With Millet Flour)
Adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens Bread Cookbook, 1963, Double-apple Fantans

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup millet flour*
3 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup finely chopped tart apple
1 beaten egg, 3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup oil or melted butter (I used coconut oil)
1/3 cup maple syrup
12 apple slivers for muffin tops
Optional coating for apple topping: 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (I skipped this but will try it next time)

*I bought my millet flour at the local co-op but you can make your own by grinding the grain in a coffee grinder until you have a fine powder.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Line a muffin pan with paper or silicone liners, or coat with a little oil.
If you plan to coat apple topping with cinnamon sugar, blend those ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
Combine flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and chopped apple in a large bowl, stirring until completely mixed.
In a separate bowl, blend egg, milk, oil, and maple syrup.
Add liquids to dry mixture and stir until just combined.
Spoon batter into muffin cups.
Top each muffin with an apple sliver, either tossed in cinnamon sugar mixture or plain.

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown on top.
Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack


Filed under muffins

Baking out of Season

I get annoyed with myself when I make something wintery in the summer or something summery in the winter. Out-of-season ingredients tend to make me cringe and I feel guilty for not making use of the bounty available. Sometimes, though, you just have to have pumpkin pie in July.


Okay, so I didn’t make pumpkin pie. I made applesauce bread. There was a jar of applesauce in the fridge that needed to be used…and there’s still a little left in that jar. There is also still half a carton of heavy cream left after I tried to use it up in this recipe. Guess I’ll just have to bake more!

I like this recipe. I’m surprised that I like it, actually, since Paula Deen’s style is usually a little too heavy for me. I like that she only calls for 1/4 cup of sugar but, in retrospect, I think that’s because she meant for me to use sweetened applesauce. I don’t remember when I last bought sweetened applesauce.


With only 1/4 cup of brown sugar this bread is not at all sweet. It’s spicy and fruity, though, and I was happy to find that the heavy cream added plenty of richness. It was a perfectly adequate substitute for butter, and hey, compared to butter, cream is light!

Other than throwing in my needed-to-be-used cream, I also healthified the flour in this recipe. I tried graham flour, something I had only read about until I found it in the bulk bins at my local co-op. Graham flour + wheat germ turned out a grainy bread with a crumby, crunchy crust. I approve! If you don’t have graham flour, whole wheat will make a fine substitute


Applesauce Bread
Adapted from Paula Deen

1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup brown sugar (add more if you want sweet!)
1 1/2 cups graham flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 large eggs
optional: 1 cup raisins, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, blend flour, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
In a separate, larger bowl, beat cream and sugar together until sugar dissolves.
Add eggs, beating well, then add applesauce and vanilla extract. Stir until fully combined.
Pour dry mixture into wet. Stir until well blended but do not over mix.
Fold in nuts and raisins, if using.
Pour into greased and floured 8x4x3 inch loaf pan or some combination of smaller pans (I used 2 mini loaf pans and 2 mini Bundt pans).
Bake at 350 for 60-65 minutes if using larger pan or 30 minutes for smaller pans.

Ahhh, smells like fall!

1 Comment

Filed under Bread

What is a Brown Betty?

I certainly didn’t know until I set out in search of crisp and found a betty instead.


        Breadcrumbs instead of flour and oats? Is it a dessert or a breakfast? I still haven’t figured that one out. This is what Wikipedia told me about Brown Bettys. The article says it’s a dessert, usually made with apples, that originated in colonial times. Other recipes I came across said the Brown Betty is a breakfast dish with Southern roots. I love history, especially when it relates to food!
        What drew me to this recipe was the inclusion of cinnamon raisin bread. I’ve been on kind of a cinnamon raisin bread kick recently. I love PB&J on cinnamon raisin and it’s even good for egg sandwiches! Now I know it’s also a delicious addition to baked fruit.
        I made my Brown Betty for dessert but it would make a fantastic breakfast. It’s not sickeningly sweet and all the fruit is a great way to start or end the day. I added some spices and oats to the original recipe. We enjoyed ours with vanilla ice cream, although I thought about toasting a marshmallow in the fireplace and smooshing that on top!


Gingered Pear-Apple Betty (makes 6 servings)
Adapted from Cooking Light

4 (1 oz) slices cinnamon raisin bread (I used Barowsky’s All Natural)
1/2 cup oats
2.5 cups sliced, pealed pear
2 cups sliced, peeled apple
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons crystalized ginger, chopped
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 – 1 teaspoon cinnamon, depending on taste
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Tear bread into small pieces and process in food processor until finely ground.
Mix oats and bread in a large bowl.
Combine 1 cup bread/oats, pear, apple, sugar, allspice, cinnamon, and both kinds of ginger in a bowl, stirring well.
Spoon this mixture into an oiled 11 x 7 in. baking dish.
Combine remaining bread and butter. Sprinkle over the fruit mix in the dish.
Optional: sprinkled a 1/4 cup or so of sliced almonds on top.

Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 40 minutes or until bubbly.
It ends up quite crispy with little to no liquid. (If you want it juicier cover it for half the baking time, then remove cover to brown the top.)


Filed under Uncategorized