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Cobbled Together: Apple-Cranberry Cobbler

Cranberry Apple Cobbler 015 Edited Cobbled Together: Apple Cranberry Cobbler

As I was growing up, my Dad was fond of saying something to the effect that he wished he knew at my age what he knew at his age. I think most of us can identify with that sentiment as, “If only I knew then what I know now.” I never really quite grasped Dad’s version until the most recent of years. I look back on the past decade and think, “Man, if I had the knowledge I had now but the youth I had a decade ago, I could really rock a few things.” On a much smaller scale, if the person I was at 8 a.m. could have given my 5 p.m. self some advice, it probably would have gone something like this:

You can do anything, but you can’t do everything, today. Just pick something and run with it. Even though you are pretending to decide between what you should do and what you want to do, you know what the day will bring so go ahead and charge your camera battery. You haven’t received a “battery low” message as of late, but trust me, it’s dead as a door nail. That way, when you set up to take a picture as daylight is fading fast, the camera will turn on.

Accordingly, you will want to make sure the charger is fully plugged into the outlet. This will save you a lot of frustration. Repeat, a lot of frustration. And since we are on that topic now, the gorgeous photo you see accompanying the recipe write-up will look nothing like what you will actually get. The tip to tent the dish with aluminum foil in the event the topping gets too brown should really be the first thing you do because 25 minutes into 60 minutes of baking the top will be DARK.

Oh, and while you are whipping up peppermint meringues as the cobbler bakes, go ahead and trust your instinct to add the vanilla when the egg whites reach soft peaks. If you wait to add it after stiff peaks form, they will fall, and you will have no cookies. Resist the urge to throw in the towel and take a nap because you will eventually be able to get a decent picture of your ugly apple-cranberry cobbler before it gets too dark.

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Those things I did today, at the expense of Christmas shopping and reading a great book, were yoga and baking. One of the studios where I practice yoga issued a 62-day challenge on November 1. This is pretty much just what it sounds: practice 62 times in 62 days. I accepted the challenge because I wanted to reintroduce some discipline to my life and, frankly speaking, hoped it would help me fit in my pants again. Just when I thought the pants thing was not going to happen, I was able to wear my jeans with no discomfort yesterday. In fact, I buttoned them and didn’t think a thing about it until I was eating and thought, “Hey, my pants aren’t hurting my stomach!”

The frustration I felt in class today was the perfect foreshadowing to the baking I attempted. I practiced with a teacher who was new to me, and I had a difficult time following her cues. Instead of flowing through poses, it was very start-and-stop. I was pretty much over the whole experience when I happened to see a girl in front of me do this crazy arm balance.  Oh, come freaking on.

As the class was drawing to a close, I noticed a few girls behind me were pretty much just sitting on their mats and taking it all in. I knew one of those girls was new only because she had stopped me in the hall earlier to ask where she could find a mat. When I saw them sitting there looking utterly defeated, it hit home that they might be thinking, “Oh, come freaking on” towards me when I was in one of the arm balances I can manage. They couldn’t have possibly known it took me a good 10 months of practice to get to the point they witnessed today.

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This led me to think about something I have been considering quite a bit as of late: beginnings. It is so easy, at least as adults, to quit something new before we give it a chance to bloom. So many around us have achieved a level of proficiency that intimidates or frustrates to the point that, when we compare ourselves to where they are, it makes it easy to quit. For me, yoga is a great example. I tried Ashtanga in April, and I haven’t practiced it since May simply because I couldn’t get my butt off the ground. (That will make zero sense to anyone who has never heard of this style of yoga – and just eight months ago I would have been in that group – but to those who have, it will make perfect sense.)

Thank the heavens above a yoga teacher who makes her living teaching Ashtanga recently posted a YouTube video in which she said it took her three months to get her butt of the ground. Perspective can be everything, and hearing her say that reminded me of the way I used to think. Ironically, this shift in my thinking occurred in a yoga class. I saw a girl get up into a bird of paradise and instead of thinking, “I will never be able to do that,” I thought, “Wow, I could do that if I stick with this.”

So, the next time you are doing something new – whether it be trying a recipe or contorting your body in a yoga class – and things aren’t going so well, remember what you  have to look forward to if you keep going. Just because things did not go smoothly this one time, failure is not necessarily a given. When cobbled together, the eventual outcome can be a delight, or in this case, delicious. My path today looked much more like a wild zig-zag than a straight line, but I got to where I wanted to go: writing a blog post and sharing a recipe. Enjoy!

“You give up on what you need to be doing because you forget that you’re worth it. This is why most people aren’t leading exemplary lives.You have to believe in yourself so much that you’re willing to do what’s uncomfortable, time-consuming, inconvenient, and on occasion seemingly impossible. When you don’t believe in yourself this much, pretend.” ― Victoria Moran

Cranberry Apple Cobbler 021 Edited Edited Cobbled Together: Apple Cranberry Cobbler

Apple-Cranberry Cobbler
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • For the Filling
  • 5 Granny Smith apples, chopped
  • 1½ cups cranberries
  • ¼ granulated sugar
  • ¼ brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 lemon, juice of
  • ½ cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • For the Topping*
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Place all of the filling ingredients EXCEPT the butter in a large bowl and toss to coat.
  2. Go ahead and place the butter in a 9 X 13 baking dish.
  3. Put the dish with the butter in the oven and start heating it to 350 F. Keep an eye on the dish and remove when the butter is melted.
  4. Meanwhile, make the topping by whisking those 5 ingredients together.
  5. When the dish with melted butter comes out of the oven, pour the fruit and spice filing in the dish.
  6. Then pour the topping over the fruit.
  7. Bake for one hour or until the juices are bubbling and the topping is golden. Cover the dish with aluminum foil at any time it the topping gets too brown. I reccommend starting out with it covered.
Notes
Feel free to peel your apples before chopping. The original recipe called for a 9-inch pie plate. I have no idea how all of the filling would fit in a pie dish, but feel free to go for it. *I ended up making an additional ½ batch of the topping as the yield did not appear to offer much coverage in a 9 x 13 baking dish.

 

 

Stuffed! Sweet Spiced Apples

Stuffed Apples 021 Edited Stuffed! Sweet Spiced Apples

Though it is now well past Thanksgiving, I can’t help but leave November with one final Stuffed! recipe. It seems appropriate considering stuffed is how I, and I suspect many of you, felt about a week ago.

These stuffed apples are good for ridding the kitchen of a few lingering cranberries. They also make for a sweet and filling dessert that, aside from the brown sugar, is not all that unhealthy.

Stuffed Apples 015 Edited Stuffed! Sweet Spiced Apples

The cranberries themselves add a nice tart pop to the sweet baked apple and spiced brown sugar. Though I did not garnish my stuffed apples, allowing a dollop of ice cream or cool whip to melt over their tops seems like a great idea. With just a few simple steps and a little bit of time, you too can enjoy sweet stuffed apples.

Another way to use up fresh cranberries is to sugar them. This creates a fun snack as well as a simple syrup good for flavoring sparkling water. Click here to view the recipe.  If cranberry sauce remains in your kitchen, a recipe for warm cranberry dip can solve your problems.

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So long, November. Hello, holiday baking…

5.0 from 1 reviews

Sweet Spiced Apples
 
Author:
Serves: 5
Ingredients
  • 5 medium apples
  • ⅓ cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, optional
Instructions
  1. Core or hollow out the centers of apples. Be sure to leave the bottoms fully intact.
  2. If desired, peel the top third of each apple.
  3. Combine the cranberries, brown sugar, walnuts, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the apples.
  5. Place in a slow cooker and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until tender.
  6. Garnish with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.

 

Oktoberfest: IPAs & Fried Beer Battered Apples

IMG 5525 Edited Oktoberfest: IPAs & Fried Beer Battered Apples

As Oktoberfest draws to a close, this series concludes with a beer that remains an enigma to me: the IPA. I do not particularly care for IPAs, yet of all the beers we tasted in Beer School, an Cleveland’s Great Lakes Brewing Company’s Lake Erie Monster was actually my favorite. I liked this beer so much that I sent my mom, who lives in Ohio, on a search for it. LEM is a seasonal beer, so there was not much left here in North Carolina by the time I had my first taste of it in July.

I suppose now is as good a time as ever to come clean that, sometimes, my sister and I like to send our mom out on little quests. We drop a casual hint like, “Gee, I’d really like to try such-and-such but I can’t seem to find any here.” And off she goes. We like to think we are doing her a favor by keeping her active. Not to mention, she is really good at finding things!

So that is how it came about that I asked Mom to check out just what Great Lakes’ beers were available at Kroger the next time she stopped by. There was no Lake Erie Monster available, but for whatever reason, the search did not stop there.

Fast forward to a lovely August afternoon when I get a text message from my sister that reads, “Look what we found in Honor, Michigan!” And lo and behold, accompanying the message there was a picture of a fairly beat-up four-pack of Lake Erie Monster. Apparently, Mom had never stopped looking for it. I have been told my sister got down on her hands and knees to look at the back of a bottom shelf where she found the lone remaining beer available. I have a great family.

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I saw the Lake Erie Monster once. I was probably 10-years-old, and I was fishing for Walleye with my dad on Lake Erie. I was probably doing more tagging along that actual fishing, but that’s beside the point.

This next part is a little embarrassing to write, but it’s a true story. You see, we are in the middle of lake, practically in Canada, and I had to pee. Boys are so lucky. Anytime they have to pee, they just tell you to turn around and let it fly. But when sitting in a boat in the middle of a lake with no hope of going to shore anytime soon, girls have to get in the water to pee. So as I creeped in to the water, I saw a little monster head pop up about 20 yards out. It was the monster.

I got back into the boat and held it the rest of the day. I was not about to get sucked under and drowned or eaten alive by that thing. Now at this point, I know you are probably thinking, “what an idiot-kid with an over-active, paranoid imagination.” Say what you will, but I saw that sucker’s head.

Keep in mind, I also heard Big Foot messing around outside of my bedroom window when I was about the same age. Mom insisted it was just a tree branch and the wind, but she was not in the room when I heard him! That little episode got me banned from ever watching Unsolved Mysteries again.

IMG 5541 Edited e1349631135549 Oktoberfest: IPAs & Fried Beer Battered Apples

Would you get in the water if you saw that thing in there?
I should certainly hope not.

So, now that I’ve completely destroyed any credibility I may have once had, allow me to tell you about these delicious fried apples. Like I did with the lambics, I had a hard time figuring out what to make with an IPA. They are so bitter that baking was out. But as I looked around for recipes and got to thinking about my options, I thought an IPA would work nicely in a beer batter.

When I was much younger, my family would occasionally go to a restaurant that served fried pickles and fried apples. That was a pretty novel thing for the childhood version of myself to experience, and I have never forgotten it. So, after a lovely trip to the farmer’s market on a beautiful fall day, I decided to fry up some beer battered apples.

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India Pale Ales, or  IPAs, originated not in India but in England. Brewers added extra hops to preserve the pale ales being sent to British soldiers in the India. The soldiers liked it so much that they kept asking for it when they got back home, and eventually, brewers decided to make it a permanent thing. Today, there are English IPAs, American IPAs and Imperial – or Double – IPAs.

English and American IPAs are similar in terms of bitterness, color and alcohol-by-volume. English IPAS range from 40 to 60 IBUs (international bittering units), while American IPAs range from 40 to 75 IBUs. With a SRM (standard reference method) of four to 15, one will find a wider range of colors in American IPAS. English IPAs run from eight to 13 on the SRM scale. Both have an alcohol by volume content ranging from five to 7.5 percent.

The Imperial or Double IPAs up the ante with an ABV that starts where the others leave off at 7.5 percent and goes up to 10 percent. They land between 60 and 120 on the IBU scale and eight to 15 on the SRM scale.

IMG 5529 Edited Oktoberfest: IPAs & Fried Beer Battered Apples

So with that, I conclude my 2012 version of Oktoberfest. I have received feedback from some that they have not liked this series at all. Others have said they enjoyed it. If you fall in the latter camp, reside in the Charlotte area, and would like to stay up to date on beer education opportunities, Like the Charlotte Beer Babes Facebook page.

This whole venture was based upon my experience at  World of Beer where Preston coordinated a summer beer school program. As I mentioned when kicking this whole thing off, any errors, omissions or severe miscommunications of the information he provided and I have re-shared are most definitely my own. Until Oktoberfest rolls around again, Cheers!

Beer Battered Apples with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Dip
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • For the apples
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup India Pale Ale
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 small to medium apples
  • For the dip
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat while you prepare the apples and batter.
  2. Whisk together the flour and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Pour in the beer and stir until thoroughly combined.
  4. Core the apples and slice into rings, or simply slice them into thin wedges. Peel the apples prior to slicing only if desired.
  5. Dip the slices or wedges into the beer batter one at a time, then gently drop into the hot oil.
  6. Fry until lightly golden brown, using a slotted spoon to remove and place on a paper-towel lined plate.
  7. Repeat until all apples are fried.
  8. Keep warm by transferring to a baking sheet in the oven (for heaven’s sake, do no put the paper towel in the oven – this is likely something I would have done as a kitchen novice.)
  9. Prepare the dip by beating all ingredients – cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon – until well combined.
Notes
There is definitely room for experimentation in this recipe. One idea is to add a teaspoon of cinnamon and use a different type of beer for the batter. Same goes for the dip. Mix it up a bit by adding ginger or nutmeg in place of cinnamon.