apples

Barley Stuffing

by Nancy on March 13, 2012

in Side Dish

Maybe you’d call this stuffing and maybe you wouldn’t. It’s based on barley instead of the traditional bread but it has all of the flavors of traditional stuffing. It makes a good side dish for poultry or pork chops whatever you call it.

For me stuffing isn’t stuffing without sage. I grow sage in my backyard. The sage garnishing the plate is a selected variety called Berggarten sage. It has large, fat, oval leaves in comparison to leaves of regular sage making it ideal for garnishes. It has the same flavor as regular sage so can be dried and ground for cooking also.

We’d like to thank Bob’s Red Mill for providing the barleydried apples and black currants for this recipe.

Barley Stuffing

three 3/4 cup servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill hulless barley
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon or 1 bouillon cube
  • 1/3 cup finely diced sauteed onion
  • 1/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill black currants
  • 1/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill dried apples
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  1.  Place barley, water, and bouillon  in a 2 quart saucepan for stove top or 3 quart bowl for microwave. Cover. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer 90 minutes. Ideally all of the water should just be absorbed as the barley finishes cooking. Check near the end of cooking time and add boiling water if the barley is too dry or remove the lid if the barley is too wet. Barley will be chewy even when fully cooked. When cooking barley in the future, adjust water and/or cooking time as needed.
  2. Add remaining ingredients to pan or bowl, cover and simmer an additional 10 minutes. Serve warm.

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Apple Crisp

by Nancy on December 13, 2011

in Desserts,Fruit

Fruit crisp is an easy dessert to make but one that I only make when I have fresh fruit. I use any firm fruit that I happen to have available – apples, pears, peaches, or cherries. I usually use apples though so I call it apple crisp. If my fruit is tree ripe and sweet, I don’t add any sugar to the fruit, just a little tapioca to thicken any juice that cooks out. I particularly like this topping because it has oatmeal in it for both the texture and the flavor. I pile the fruit high in the baking dish as it will shrink about half after baking.

Apple Crisp

Ingredients

  • 6 cups peeled and sliced apples
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup oatmeal
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  1. Toss apples with tapioca and place in 1 1/2 or 2 quart glass or ceramic baking dish.
  2. Mix sugar, flour, oatmeal and cinnamon in bowl.
  3. Cut room temperature butter or margarine into mixture with pastry cutter or fork until crumbly, like pie crust if you make pies.
  4. Pour mixture over apples.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees until apples bubble up around crust, about 45 minutes.

 

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There are a whole range of grains that have been and can be used as food but are not commonly consumed in the US. Barley is one of those grains. Historically is was grown worldwide but was especially important in northern climates with short growing seasons (such as Iceland) as it doesn’t need a lot of heat to grow. Today it is grown in the US but nearly all of the production goes into animal feed and malted barley for beer making.

Last March my son, Scott, and I went to a convention and did some touring in Iceland. The hotel restaurant served a barley dish for breakfast. It was right next to skyr, a traditional Icelandic yogurt/cheese, and served in the same style container but I never determined if this breakfast barley was considered a traditional dish or not (like several places we visited in Iceland, the staff was seasonal help from elsewhere in Europe and didn’t know). It was the first time I remember eating barley other than those little bits in Campbell’s vegetable beef soup.

The only real challenge to this recipe was finding a source for barley and learning how to cook it. This recipe uses whole grain barley which may also called hulled or hulless barley depending on the variety grown. I can buy barley at my local natural foods store in the bulk bin section. It is also available by mail order from Bob’s Red Mill. Whole grain barley takes a long time to cook and is always chewy even when fully cooked.

We’d like to thank Bob’s Red Mill for providing the barley, dried apples and black currants for this recipe.

Icelandic Breakfast Barley

four 1 cup servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill hulless barley
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon butter or margarine
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup Bob’s Red Mill diced, dried apples
  • 1/3 cup Bob’s Red Mill black currants
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange peel (optional)
  1. Place barley, water, butter or margarine, and salt in a 2 quart saucepan for stove top or 3 quart bowl for microwave. (The butter or margarine keeps the water when mixed with small amounts of starch from the grain from boiling over.) Cover. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer 90 minutes. Ideally all of the water should just be absorbed as the barley finishes cooking. Check near the end of cooking time and add boiling water if the barley is too dry or remove the lid if the barley is too wet. When cooking barley in the future, adjust water and/or cooking time as needed.
  2. While still hot, stir in dried apples, currants, honey and cinnamon. If there is a layer of starch on top of the barley when cooking it in the microwave, just stir it in with the apples and currants. Let stand 10 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

 

 

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Applesauce

by Nancy on November 9, 2010

in Desserts,Fruit,Vegetarian

We humans aren’t the only ones who like a sweet, juicy apple. I live in the suburbs so you wouldn’t think we have much wildlife around. Guess again. I have to fight off the scrub jays, sparrows, squirrels, raccoons, and occasionally rats, opossums and skunks, for the fruit on our trees. The Sunday football game on TV is sometimes interrupted with thud, thud, thud as an apple a squirrel just dropped rolls down the roof.

I fill the vegetable drawer in the refrigerator with perfect apples for eating fresh. I use less than perfect apples for cooking. Apples in the grocery store are always perfect. But did you know less than 40% of the apples in a commercial orchard are picked because the rest aren’t perfect? I don’t want to waste 60% of my home crop so imperfections such as sunburn, bruises and worm damage (actually the larva of a moth) are cut away and the remaining good apple used.

For me applesauce is a seasonal food. I only make it when I have tree ripened apples (I gave up buying applesauce at the grocery store because it is baby food smooth, flavorless and watery). All you really need to make applesauce is apples. If my apples are really sweet, I don’t even add any sugar. If I have an overabundance of apples, I may freeze a few pints. Just pack it in freezer containers and freeze.

The cinnamon applesauce recipe is from the mother of some children I babysat for when I was in high school. Cinnamon red hot candies give the applesauce a great cinnamon flavor and add sugar at the same time. The candies also add a beautiful red color.

Applesauce

  • 2 quarts peeled, cored apples
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4-1/2 cup sugar (optional)
  • 1 tsp. salt (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
  1. Place apples and water in 2 quart pan. The water will keep the apples from scorching as they begin to cook. Cover with lid.
  2. Place over medium to low heat so that just a tiny bit of steam is escaping from around lid. Cook until apples are tender and begin to break down into a sauce, 20 – 40 minutes depending on firmness of apples.
  3. Taste. Add sugar and salt to taste. Sweet apples may not need any sugar at all. If you add sugar, cook 5 more minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, add cinnamon if desired.

Cinnamon Applesauce

  • 2 quarts peeled, cored apples
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon red hot candies
  1. Place apples, cinnamon red hots and water in 2 quart pan. The water will keep the apples from scorching as they begin to cook. Cover with lid.
  2. Place over medium to low heat so that just a tiny bit of steam is escaping from around lid. Cook until apples are tender and begin to break down into a sauce, 20 – 40 minutes depending on firmness of apples.

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Jonathan apple, my favorite apple, like this one growing in my back yard is rarely available commercially and may soon become an heirloom variety.

I live in a house on a 100 foot x 60 foot lot. That’s not much room especially compared to the 80 acre farm with 5 acres of house and yard that I grew up on. We always had a big garden when I was growing up. And we did a lot of canning and freezing of vegetables and fruits. The rural garden carried over to my suburban lot. I have a 10 foot x 30 foot vegetable garden, a 2 foot x 30 foot flower garden and fruit trees in both front and back yards. In fact, all of the trees in my yard except for the city tree in the front are fruit trees.

When I moved in 30 years ago, I planted 2 dwarf apple trees at one end of the back yard. The rest of the back yard was in patio and grass so my children would have a play area. I chose a Jonathan for summer apples and a Granny Smith for winter apples. I didn’t realize at the time that Jonathan isn’t suppose to fruit well here in our USDA 9 climate but I get good crops of apples from both trees every year. I say I grow the apples organically but really I just ignore the trees expect when they are flowering in spring and smell wonderful, need an occasional light pruning to keep the height down to a manageable picking level and when picking ripe apples.

My children are now grown and don’t play in the back yard anymore so my husband and I reevaluated how we use our back yard. We don’t use the back yard much except for reading, sitting in the fresh air and barbecuing on the patio so we decided that the best use was to plant more fruit. Fruit is perishable, seasonal and usually expensive relative to other foods. If we grow it ourselves we can chose our favorite varieties-even heirloom varieties that don’t ship well, grow fruit without pesticides, have fruit without preservatives like waxes used commercially to keep it fresh, and pick it when it is perfectly ripe and most flavorful whereas most commercial fruit is picked under ripe and doesn’t generally develop full flavor.

I am taking my time expanding my orchard as I search out the varieties I want. I have only 20 feet by 40 feet for more trees so I decided to add 6 ultra dwarf trees which should top out at 10 feet tall or less. I can prune them if they grow bigger than that. An ultra dwarf tree should provide plenty of fruit in season for the two of us and I’ll probably have enough left over for family and friends. So far I planted a Blenheim apricot which was one of the most common varieties of apricot grown commercially in this area before it became an urban jungle. Sweet cherries were also grown here so I added a Bing cherry. Pears are grown about 100 miles north of here so in went a Bartlett pear. Like the Jonathan apple, the Bartlett pear really needs more winter cold than we get so I’ll see if it fruits. If not I’ll take the tree out and replace it with something else. This year I will be looking for almond and plum trees, the ultra dwarfs are fairly new hard to find yet. I’ll probably round out the group with a sour cherry so I can make a proper cherry pie.

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