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


  • 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


  • 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.




Banana Bread

by Nancy on March 15, 2011

in Breads

This banana bread is an old family favorite. I remember making it as a child. The bananas need to be very ripe with black spots on the skin. If you have only one or two bananas or bananas are on sale at the store, mash them and put the mashed banana in the freezer. This recipe doesn’t require a mixer. Mash the bananas with a fork right in the mixing bowl and then stir in the remaining ingredients with the same fork.

Banana Bread

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup walnuts (optional)

Makes one 4″ x 8″ loaf, two 3″ x 7″ loaves, or nine muffins.

  1. Mash bananas with fork.
  2. Blend in sugar, salt and egg.
  3. Melt butter or margarine and stir into banana mixture.
  4. Dissolve soda in water and add with flour.
  5. Chop walnuts if desired and stir in.
  6. Grease loaf pan(s). Pour batter in pan(s).
  7. Bake at 350 degrees 45 minutes for loaves or 25 minutes for muffins.


Potato Soup

by Nancy on February 17, 2011

in Main Dish,Soups,Vegetarian

This is an old-time classic family recipe. It’s a classic because you like it just the way it is. I have liked it just the way it is for over 50 years. Was I surprised when Carrie came up with a variation that I liked, well, maybe not better but just as good.

My mother’s classic version is vegetarian – potatoes, onions and celery in a thin white sauce base. Carrie added bacon in her version which adds a rich flavor.

The bacon version of this recipe uses fat from the bacon instead of margarine or butter to make the rue (flour/fat mixture used for thickening). You have to render the fat out of the bacon so you have a liquid oil that you can mix with the flour. Cut the bacon strips into 1/2″ pieces. Kitchen shears make quick work of this. Place pieces in saucepan and heat on high. Fry until fat is converted to oil. This will take about 5 minutes, stir occasionally. The bacon will be “floating” in oil and the fat will be covered with tiny bubbles when it is finished.

Potato Soup

  • 6 strips of bacon  or  1/3 cup margarine or butter
  • 4 T flour
  • 1 small diced onion
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 6 small red potatoes diced
  • 6 cups milk
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  1. In 3 quart saucepan fry bacon until crisp or melt margarine or butter.
  2. Add onion and saute in fat.
  3. Stir flour into fat. It’s OK if bacon and onion get mixed in too.
  4. Add 1 cup of milk, mix evenly into flour/fat mixture. Stir constantly until mixture boils and thickens.
  5. Stir in rest of milk. Add potatoes. Heat just to boiling and simmer until potatoes are done, about 20 minutes.

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Gingerbread Men Cookies

by Carrie on December 7, 2010

in Cookies

It’s taken me 8 years now to perfect my gingerbread men and now they’re one of my favorite Christmas cookies.

Gingerbread Men Cookies (adapted from the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook)

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  1. Beat butter or margarine, sugar, baking powder, ground ginger, baking soda, ground cinnamon, and ground cloves in an electric mixer.
  2. Add molasses, egg, and vinegar and beat until combined.
  3. Add flour and stir until incorporated.
  4. Cover and chill dough for about 3 hours.
  5. Roll out dough until 1/4 inch thick. I roll my dough out on the cookie sheets.
  6. Cut gingerbread men out with cookie cutter. I use the Wilton Comfort Grip gingerbread man.
  7. Bake at 375° for 6 to 8 minutes.


  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  1. Combine powdered sugar and milk in a small bowl.
  2. Transfer to a piping bag or Ziploc with the corner cut off to ice your cookies.