Monday, September 26, 2011



If it is fall in New England then it is time to go apple picking. This is an annual event in my family and has bonded our family for many years. What better way to experience first hand how a favorite fruit grows and is incorporated into homemade apple pies, apple crisps and of course homemade applesauce! Tasting different varieties while in the apple orchard tempts us to try many varieties of apples. Shining one up after picking, before eating this natural treat, is part of the adventure of a visit to the local apple orchard.

We pick mostly Cortland apples for our baking pies and crisps and making applesauce. Macintosh (Macs) and Granny Smiths can be combined in many favorite recipes.
A good eating apple is a Gala, Fuji and Macoun as well as Honey Crisp. These are firm and sweeter varieties. If you crave that lip-puckering tartness of a crisp apple, go for the Macintosh.
From our tutorial on apple varieties right there in the apple orchard, we learned that Cortland apples do not get brown as quickly when cut into pieces, therefore, they make a good baking apple.

The process for making fresh applesauce is simple to follow. There is nothing better than the taste and consistency of homemade applesauce. Try it and be proud of the quality of your efforts.

Cortland Apples

A Cortland Apple

What you will need:
Cortland or Mac Apples
Large Pot with matching cover
Cutting board
Kitchen knife
Wooden spoon
Measuring cup
Food mill
Large bowl

Cortland applese or mixture to include Grany Smith and/or Macintosh
Water, about 1/2 cup
Cinnamon, about 1 tablespoon or to taste
Sugar, about 3-4 tablespoons or to taste

Cut apple

Cut apples in large pot

The Process:
Wash all apples before cutting
Cut the apples with the kitchen knife on all sides close to the core
Add all cut apples including the cores, put into the large pot with the water.
Put the pot on the stove burner, turn heat up to medium-high at first.
Cover the pot.
When the apples begin bubbling in the water, turn down the stove burner to low setting.
Keep the cover on the pot and check on the cooking apples often, turning them over in the pot with the wooden spoon.
Cook the apples down until a bit mushy, but still solid.
Take the cover off, turn off the stove burner and let the apples cool a little bit.
With the food mill in place over a large bowl, spoon in the cooked apples into the food mill and begin to turn the handle to press the cooked apples through the strainer in the food mill.
When all the cooked apples have been put through the food mill, add cinnamon and sugar, and stir through the mixture.
Adjust the cinnamon and sugar for your personal taste.
(Flavor from cooked apples is different depending on the varieties of apples used.)
Serve the fresh applesauce at room temperature or keep in the refrigerator until a later serving time.
The applesauce firms up after refrigeration and the flavors blend together.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Chicken and Shrimp Stirfry

At what age did you become responsible for your own meal preparations? Are you a young adult, living independently from your family, and relying on take-out food or easy pick-up, prepared meals from the supermarket? If you notice this is your regular meal planning stategy for satisfying your immediate hunger pains, then have you also noticed that your weight is increasing as you continue these eating habits?

This blog post is about how Scott took a desire to eat healthier by preparing a meal at home with ingredients he chose himself. Scott also increased his time at the gym during the week. When possible, Scott is making better food choices for his overall health. Scott is in his early thirties, lives independently in his own home, has a very busy business career involving lots of travel and has lots of social events with friends involving food, of course.

This fresh stirfry dinner was prepared by Scott, on his own. He thought ahead what he wanted to prepare for his dinner, went to the supermarket to purchase fresh ingredients and took a little time to organize and cut his produce and protein before beginning the cooking process. Scott, without knowing, utilized the process of "Mise En Place" meaning everything in its place before cooking. This is how the chefs cook in restaurants. By having all the ingredients of a meal washed, cut and measured just before you begin the cooking process, allows you to efficiently introduce each ingredient into the cooking process. Therefore, less frustration and chaos while cooking. The result is a smooth, organized, stress-free prepared meal.

"Mise En Place" - Organizing ingredients, everything in its place.

Another thing Scott shared with me is a couple of photos of his meal preparation. He even presented his photos on white dishes which is the choice of the professional food photographers, as I have learned as well.

I think Scott took responsibility to prepare a healthy, nutritious meal at home and gained some confidence during the process of preparation and cooking. With a tasty dish like this stirfry, imagine what other home cooking meals await Scott? By controlling the ingredients during home cooking, Scott controls the salt, sugar and fat content and does not let others do this for him. This is a much better way to eat for your overall health, I think. How about you?

Reminder: cut fresh produce first and put into medium bowls. Wash kitchen knife and cutting board to cut the chicken tenders and put pieces into medium bowls. Wash kitchen knife and cutting board again to cut the shrimp and put the pieces into a medium bowl. This prevents cross-contamination of food.

What you will need:
Large cutting board
Kitchen knife
Large fry pan or skillet
Large spoon, metal or wooden
Medium bowls for ingredients (3-4)
Serving plate
Serving spoon, large
Fork and knife

Olive oil or vegetable oil, two tablespoons
Green pepper, small to medium, chopped into small pieces
Red onion, small, chopped into small pieces or slices
Chicken tenders, fresh and skinless, cut into small pieces
Shrimp, fresh, shelled, cleaned and deveined
Kosher salt, one teaspoon
Black Pepper, crushed, one-half teaspoon
Optional: one teaspoon soy sauce, low sodium.

Cooking process: Fast, total cooking time about five minutes.
Add the olive oil or vegetable oil into the fry pan or skillet. Turn heat on stove top to medium-high.
Add the red onions and green peppers and stir as they cook in the oil.
Sprinkle the salt and crushed black pepper on top of the cooking vegetables.
When the cooking vegetables look softer add in the chicken and keep stirring the mixture. When the cooking chicken looks like color has changed from pinkish to more white color and looks firmer, add the shrimp and keep stiring the mixture. If adding low-sodium soy sauce, add this now and keep stirring to cover all the vegetables, chicken and shrimp.
When chicken is white color and shrimp is more firm and pink color, stir and taste the stirfry.
Add more salt and black pepper for your personal taste.
Turn off the stove top burner and put the cooked stirfry on a clean plate using a clean large serving spoon.
Bring the serving plate to the table where your clean fork and knife have been placed for you to enjoy your home cooked stirfry meal.