Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cascading Into Fall Flavors

Sweet and Savory Fall Side Dish
Each season has its food traditions for both of us.  Fall means sweet apples, sweet potatoes, turnips, and smoked meats.  When we travel to Brown County Indiana in October, Olivia and I make it a point to travel to Trafalgar to the Apple Werks orchard.  It is a fun, extraordinary place.  Going there is such a treat because it is obvious a pilgrimage there is a family tradition for many folks.  In addition to fresh, sweet, tart and just plain delicious apples, they have cider, dumplings, doughnuts, cakes, pies, sauces, dressings, and u-pick pumpkins.  They even have a petting zoo where a kid-at-heart like myself can feed alpacas, donkeys, and sheep.  We always come home with perfect apple treats and a lot of wonderful memories.

Our local farmer's market is winding down this month so we are taking advantage of getting all the squash, turnips, sweet potatoes, etc. that we will enjoy well into November.  To add to these wonderful fall flavors, we of course use meat from our favorite butcher shop--Mattern's in Goshen, IN.  It is a family owned business that features the very best meats we have ever had.  My personal favorite is their smoked pork chops.  They are second to none and I would choose one over a steak any day (but their steaks are great too!).  Try this perfect fall side dish Olivia made with a good smoked pork chop.  Your mouth is guaranteed to water from the flavor packed, texture filled goodness!

Sweet Potato, Apple, Onion, and Pecan Mixture

Perfect Fall Side Dish

3/4 cups quinoa
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup pecans
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium sized sweet potato, peeled and diced into cubes
1 medium red onion, chopped into small pieces
1 red apple, unpeeled and diced
1 Granny Smith apple, unpeeled and diced


In a small pot, combine quinoa and water.  Bring to a boil and reduce the heat.  Simmer until the water has evaporated and quinoa is fluffy, about 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in salt, pepper, and cinnamon.  Pour the quinoa in a large serving bowl and set aside.

While the quinoa cooks, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the sweet potatoes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the red onion and cook for another 3 minute.  Add both kinds of chopped apple and continue cooking about 3 minutes until apple is fork tender.  Add the pecans and cook just a couple of minutes longer.

Add the sweet potato mixture to the quinoa, stir, and serve immediately!  This is a  perfect side dish for just about any meat, but especially pork!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Microwave Caramels

We just came back from a great trip to Brown County Indiana.  If you have never been to this fall vacation destination, you are missing a fun experience.  Seeing the beautiful fall color, the plethora of pumpkins, and eating seasonal delights puts us in the mood for Halloween and upcoming holiday goodies.  This recipe does bring to mind caramel apples, candy corn, and the like.

It is that wonderful time of year when sweet treats complement the menu for parties and your favorite goblins.  This one is easy and will satisfy the sweetest tooth.  Olivia found it at www.food.com and tried it.  The results were exceptional.  You can make these in seasonal cups you find in kitchen supply shops.  Making a sweet and tasty homemade treat was never so easy!

Microwave Caramels

Recipe from:  www.food.com


    • 1/4 cup butter
    • 1/2 cup white sugar
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup light Karo syrup
    • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk


  1. Combine all ingredients.
  2. Cook 6 minutes, stirring every two minutes.
  3. Stir and pour into lightly greased dish.
  4. Let cool.
  5. Cut, wrap in wax paper & store in air tight container.
    Caramel being poured into candy cups on top of peanuts...

    Finished chocolate, peanut caramels!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Canning Carrots

Canned Carrots

Canning season will soon be winding down (unless you count the meat sales we've been finding and canning those) but you can still find a great number of root vegetables to can and enjoy later this winter.  Carrots are one of my favorites.  I have a favorite vendor at the farmers market who raises the most remarkable carrots. They are sweet, tender, and never woody.  I have to warn you that once you have canned your own carrots, you will never want to eat another canned carrot from the store.  I am not usually a culinary snob, but believe me THERE IS A DIFFERENCE.  Olivia and I both canned carrots this summer and will be enjoying the delicious rewards long after the first snow flies.  If you have never canned before, carrots are a good introduction.  They are easy.  Join the fun!

Makes 1 pint per each 1 1/2 pounds of carrots

You will need:

1 to 1-1/2 lb (about 6 to 9 medium with 1- to 1 1/2-inch diameter) carrots per pint jar
Salt, optional
Pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands


1.) PREPARE pressure canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
2.) WASH peel carrots. Wash again. Cut carrots into slices or leave whole.
3.) PACK carrots tightly into hot jars leaving 1 inch headspace. Add 1 tsp salt to each quart jar, 1/2 tsp to each pint jar, if desired.
4.) LADLE boiling water over carrots leaving 1 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center hot lid on jar. Apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight.
5.) PROCESS filled jars in a pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure 25 minutes for pints, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.