Monday, September 27, 2010

Fall has fallen....

As last week ushered in the official start to the fall season, here in Traverse City the weather heard the news loud and clear. It went from 80 degree weather to mid 60's. It's okay though, these fall days bring many great things.

As the sun shines brightly, the leaves on the trees seem to sparkle. The air is crisp and fresh. An abundance of fall harvests are here for our taking.

This time of year my children think of caramel apples. Cider mills and farmer's markets have them for sale. Or you could buy fresh apples at the market and make homemade caramel sauce at home with your children. This would be a great recipe for a Halloween party or other fall theme event. This is easy and fun. What a great way to enjoy those fresh apples.

Recipe for homemade caramel sauce:

Equipment needed: candy thermometer


8 medium to large apples or 12 small tart apples

1 cup chopped nuts ( cashews, peanuts, walnuts- optional)

1 cup butter

1 16 ounce package ( 2 1/4 cups) packed brown sugar

1 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk

1 cup light colored corn syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

Line a baking sheet with foil. Spray cooking spray over the foil. Wash and dry apples. Remove stems, and insert a wooden skewer at the end of each apple. Place chopped nuts in a separate bowl.

In a heavy 3 quart saucepan melt butter over low heat. Next add brown sugar, condensed milk, and corn syrup. Mix well. Increase heat to medium high, stir until mixture boils. Clip candy thermometer to side of saucepan. Reduce heat to medium. continue stirring. Mixture will boil at a moderate steady state. Look for thermometer to register at 248 degrees, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove saucepan from heat. Stir in vanilla.

Quickly dip each apple into the hot caramel sauce, turn to coat. If desired, dip in nut mixture. Place on baking sheet. Chill if desired.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Jalapeno's on the windowsill

The excitement of seeing my first homegrown Thai peppers was a high point during the scorching summer heat. I felt no intimadation as I looked upon the tiny, dark green peppers. My husband loves Thai food, so what could be better than adding Thai peppers to an endless array of meals I would cook for him.

Only one other pepper has more heat then Thai peppers, that would be the Habanero. An important point when deciding what peppers to grow in your garden. Take a bell pepper for comparison, which clocks in at a zero rating for heat threshold. A jalapeno can go as high aas 8,000, and to my surprise, the Thai pepper can rate up to 100,000. Sweet banana are the mildest of the spicy peppers, then Pablano. Depending on the amount of spice you want, you may wish to start with the mild variety.

A hot, delicious way to try these spicy peppers and do a taste test yourself, is to simply serve as an appetizer. Start with any pepper you wish, or try a few different types, and stuff with cream cheese. Wrap uncooked bacon aroung the stuffed uncooked pepper, and place in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Just don't forget to label which pepper is which. Have fun working your way up the heat index.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bon Appetit

The October issue of Bon Appetit has named Traverse City in the' Top 5 Foodie Towns in America'. Reasons cited were everything from Mario Batali to a local winery, Black Star Farms. For a town to make the cut, the criteria was simple. Great farmers' markets, superb restaurants, a faithful foodie following to name a few. Traverse City has all this in more.