Baked Applesauce Donuts with Maple Glaze

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We slept with the window open, woke to cool crisp weather, and I swear I could smell fall! That smell quickly faded into a humid 80-degree late summer day, but that didn’t keep me from wanting to bake a fall-like treat.

Each fall I make loads of applesauce that I freeze. Since apple season is around the corner, we have to use up our few remaining quarts. In comes the donuts! About a year ago, my Nana gave me a donut pan that has been sitting in a drawer, losing hope of ever being used. Fear not little pan!! Now that I know the goodness that pan can create, it will be well-loved for years to come!

These donuts are so easy. You need a few staple ingredients from your cabinet, plus a bowl and whisk. In a few minutes, voila! Amazing applesauce donuts with virtually no sugar. Top them with a simple maple glaze and you’ve got a great sweet fall treat!

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Applesauce Donuts with Maple Glaze

1 cup milk

1 egg

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

2 tbsp sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

Maple Glaze

2 tbsp butter

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1 cup confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a donut pan. In a bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, vanilla, and applesauce. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until smooth. Fill the pan 3/4 full with the batter and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let the donuts sit in the pan for 5 minutes before removing them to cool on a parchment lined cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining batter. There should be enough for 12 donuts.

While the donuts are cooling. Melt the butter in a saucepan with the maple syrup. Once the butter is melted, remove from heat and whisk in the confectioners sugar. Continue to mix until smooth. Dip one side of the donut into the pan and put back onto the cooling-rack to set.IMG_3285

A Vermont Ice Storm

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The weekend before Christmas, part of Vermont was hit with an ice storm. We happened to be in the middle of it. It was 20 degrees and raining, which meant the water immediately froze on everything it touched. Over an inch of ice later, the damage was clearly seen and heard.

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Thousands were without power through the holidays.

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Many businesses were affected.

IMG_2381Hundreds of thousands of trees snapped, bent, or splintered.

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Hopefully all of Ty’s Christmas trees fared well.

IMG_2418Though there is significant damage all around us, it is still quite beautiful.

IMG_2409And it should remind us to be a little more conscientious about how we treat our Earth – or damage like this may happen more often.

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Bacon Bourbon Jam

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Ty subscribed me to Martha’s ‘Living’ for my birthday last year – a magazine I am only slightly addicted to. He flipped open a random page to see a recipe for ‘Bacon Jam’, slammed the magazine on the table with his finger on the page and declared “YOU are making this for Thanksgiving.” (Emphasis on the YOU).

What turned out to be a surprisingly easy recipe was a hit! Served with some toasted bread and a slice of nicely aged cheddar, not much was left in the jar at the end of the evening.

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Bacon Bourbon Jam

1 1/2 pounds thick-cut smoked bacon (I used hickory smoked – yum)

2 cups shallots, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground mustard

1/2 cup bourbon

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup cooking sherry

1/3 cup light-brown sugar

1. Slice bacon crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Cook in a deep skillet or large pan over medium heat until browned. Work in batches. Remove fat from pan between each batch. Retain one tablespoon of bacon fat and do not scrape all the brown bits at the bottom of the pan. Drain bacon on paper towels.

2. To the pan with 1 tablespoon bacon fat. Add shallots and garlic. Saute until soft and translucent – approximately 5 minutes. To the shallots, add chili powder, mustard, and ginger. Saute for a few additional minutes.

3. Add bourbon and maple syrup to the mixture. Increase heat to high and stir until boiling. Add sherry, brown sugar, and bacon and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let the mixture simmer until well-thickened and reduced – about 10 minutes.

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4. When reduced, transfer jam to a food processor and pulse a few times to break up to the bacon into small pieces. Toss in a jar and refrigerate for up to 4 weeks. Serve at room temp with a toasted baguette and aged cheddar cheese.

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So much to be thankful for this year…. 

Lavender Blueberries in Simple Syrup

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Today was one of those days that just makes you love fresh air (and Vermont, if you are lucky enough to live here). After the heat wave and days of thunderstorms, it cleared off last night and led to a cool (57 degree!), beautiful, Sunday morning. A berry farm we visited last year, Pure Livin’ Farms, opened at 9 am and we were the second ones there to pick. It is a bumper blueberry crop this year. It took an extremely short amount of time to knock some 14 pounds off the bushes.

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I’ve recently read a lot, and have been interested in, canning whole berries. I found multiple recipes out there, but tweaked them a little. My main recipe came from ZoeBakes. I then added some lemon juice, homemade vanilla extract (instead of a bean) and lemon zest. What smelled incredible, I can only hope will turn out to be a great mid-winter treat! I dream, and drool, of a homemade lemon pound cake smothered in these berries…. aaaand fresh whipped cream!

And for those of you who are not canners, I promise you this is the easiest. I think I should have started with this! Remember that I didn’t grow up canning. What I know, I taught myself. Also, the recipe below is for a small batch. Three pint jars are all you need… just in case you don’t have 13 pounds of blueberries on your hands!

Canned Blueberries in Simple Syrup with Lavender and Lemon

Fresh, ripe blueberries – enough to fit in 3 pint jars

3 cups water

2 1/2 cup sugar

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp lemon zest

3-6 springs fresh lavender flowers

1. Clean your pint jars and bring to a boil in a water bath canner. Let boil for about 10 minutes to sterilize.

2. Fill the hot jars with berries until just below the neck. Lay a lavender flower or two on the top of each jar and sprinkle a few pieces of lemon zest.

IMG_18973. Pour syrup over berries in each jar leaving 1-inch headspace. Top with sterilized lids, finger-tip tighten bands, and process in water bath for 10 minutes.

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Green Bean Salad with Bruschetta

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My Mom found this recipe (or one like it) quite a while ago. I feel I was still in high school when she first made it, which to me, is quite a while ago. It has become a staple when fresh green and wax beans are picked daily from the garden. There is something about a fresh homegrown green bean. There is something about anything homegrown.

Speaking of homegrown – I stopped by a little farm store near us and picked out a beautiful ripe tomato (ours are soooo close to ripe!) and some 100% pure Vermont feta cheese! Chain-store feta < local whole-milk feta!

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I like to give credit when credit is due, but since I have no idea where this simple concoction came from, I will give credit to my Mom! I never really pay attention to amounts, so I am guessing below. Just go with what seems right for your palette!

Green Bean Bruschetta

Fresh green beans (about 1/4-1/2 lb)

2 tomatoes

5-8 large basil leaves

crumbled feta cheese (about a 1/4 cup)

olive oil (or any other type of tasty oil)

balsamic vinegar

s & p

1. Clean and trim green beans. In a small pan, add green beans and an inch of water and cover. Place over high heat until boiling. Let boil for about two minutes. Remove, drain, and rinse beans under cold water. (In other words, blanch your beans!).

2. Chop tomato into small cubes. Roll the basil leaves length wise and thinly chop (this will make long strips).

3. Plate the green beans. Top with tomatoes. Crumble the feta cheese over the tomatoes, sprinkle with the basil strips and season with salt and pepper. Prior to serving, drizzle with oil and vinegar.

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Strawberry Preserves (pectin free)

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The strawberries are finally ready in Vermont! We took full advantage of this and visited a local organic berry farm. Over 11 lbs of strawberries later, some serious jamming had to be done. I made two batches of preserves, the first is outlined below and the second was a variation in which I added some frozen blueberries that we picked last summer.

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We are not big fans of sugary fruit in this household, so I kept the added sugar to a minimum and used some maple syrup for additional flavor. I’d much rather taste my strawberries slightly sweetened than taste strawberry flavored sugar.

Strawberry Preserves

14 cups fresh strawberries (cleaned, whole)

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup pure VT maple syrup

1/4 cup lemon juice, plus juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp vanilla extract (optional)

1. In a large stock pot over medium heat, add all of the above ingredients. As the mixture warms, mash with a potato masher. The berries get easier to mash as the mixture warms (but the warming increases the chance of splattering). Bring the berries up to a boil and reduce to a summer for about 30-45 minutes or until thick. Remove foam with a spoon, if needed. To test the readiness of the jam, use the spoon test, plate test, or temperature test. Check out this great how-to guide to determine when your preserves are jellied.

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2. In a separate pot, bring 4-5 pint-sized mason jars to a boil. Sterilize for 10 minutes. The number of jars needed will depend on natural pectin and simmering time of the berries.

3. Pour jam into sterilized jars leaving about a 1/2 inch head space. Clean rim and top with a sterilized and unused lid (keep in boiling/hot water until use). Tighten the lid ring lightly and process in boiling water for 10 minutes.

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4. Remove, let cool, listen for the POP (my favorite part), and enjoy whenever you need a fresh berry taste! Store in a cool, dry, and dark place.

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Thar She Grows!

IMG_1652The very first edibles of the season.

After a month (not even kidding) of rain and rain and rain and rain and wait… some more rain, we finally had a clear day in which I could get to weeding. The grass around the garden is about as tall as my head and the wheeler splashed up muddy goop the entire ride down the hill. I was pleased to see the garden thriving despite all of the rain and cool weather… well, most of the garden anyway.

IMG_1656Chard (two plantings… no those are not weeds!) and Kale… both almost ready.

My red onions bolted already. Apparently, when onions are under stress in their second season (they are biennials) they bolt. When that happens, they will not keep and will discontinue bulb growth. My project for the week is to yank them and figure out a way to store them. Any ideas? Canning, pickling, freezing?? I’ve got some reasearch to do! Besides the onions, my peppers have barely grown and my garlic looks, well, eh.

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Onions, peppers, and garlic aside, everything else is thriving! The snap peas have wrapped their little fingers around the fence and the dry beans are all up and healthy. The broccoli and cabbage have quadrupled in size and are luckily not being attacked by flea beetles! In fact, the flea beetles are few and far between… I even got to pull a few radishes already! Usually our radishes are decimated by the little buggers.

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I guess rain is a good thing! (And getting a r.e.a.l teaching job! wa hoo)

The Garden is Calling!

IMG_1513Parsley and basil and dill OH MY!

Well, we had to move unexpectedly. We knew it was coming, but we weren’t planning to HAVE to get out. Let’s just say it ended with me driving a couple of outfits, toiletries, and the squawking cat and Ty driving a couple Carhart’s and the dog to his parents. We are moving back to our old town, renting from our old landlord, but in a brand-spankin-new place. It’s slated to be completed the first week in June, so in the meantime we are hopscotching around. Fun stuff. Hey, it’s the challenges in life that build character, right?

Fortunately, we were able to get our hands in the garden a few days before the moving shenanigans. We got some manure, Ty tilled and expanded the garden (yet again), and we got most of our raised rows created. Onions and garlic are sprouting, the chives and rhubarb are back, and a new asparagus bed was planted! I am itching with excitement to get my butt in the garden this weekend and plant up a storm! There is nothing more soothing and mind-clearing than a day digging in the dirt.

We don’t really have much to show now. The fence needs fixing and expanding (yes our fence is approximately 10 feet tall… apparently moose are not the brightest creatures). The edges still need to be weeded and we need to build a permanent raised bed for herbs and lettuces. Check out some recent before and after pictures. Hopefully by Sunday, I’ll have a better update to share!

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we kind of neglected the garden in the fall – which meant much more to clean up this spring

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A piece of rhubarb from my Grandpa’s childhood farm – planted last year and currently growing strong (I can’t wait to make wine from this)

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Boomer found a baby carrot

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flowers sprouting

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looking better – almost ready to go!

Ramp (Wild Leek) and Kale Grilled Pizza

IMG_1530 Up here, in zone 4, spring is just starting. The hills are coming alive with muted-fall colors. A soft tinge of reds, whites, golds, and oranges are popping out and traveling up in elevation daily. It is just beautiful! One of the first plants to come out of the ground in this area, besides crocuses and daffodils, are ramps (aka wild leeks). I ventured down to the garden to start cleaning up and to toss a few lettuce seeds into the soil and noticed these gorgeous lime green leaves springing from crunchy fall debris. I yanked on a set of leaves only to be intoxicated with this amazing garlic and onion scent. I picked a bunch, took them home, made sure they were what I thought, and returned to pick some more. IMG_1515 Ty expressed a little fear in eating them, thinking that clearly they must be poisonous. I pointed out that he eats wild berries ALL the time and technically all vegetables were once wild! I think his previous feelings about wild plants went out the window when he saw this pizza! Woo wee, it was delish! A whole grain crust, topped with local baby kale, freshly foraged ramps, and smoked pepperoni = so so good!

Ramp and Kale Pizza

1 large pizza dough

1 can crushed tomato

fresh or dried basil and oregano

crushed red pepper

1 ball or log of fresh mozzarella, sliced thin

15 or so slices of smoked pepperoni

10 or so ramps, diced (use ALL of the ramp)

2 cups baby kale, any tough stems removed

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1. Preheat your grill to high heat. Roll out your pizza dough. Any shape will do as long as it fits your grill.

2. Over medium heat on the stove, toss your ramps and kale together and saute with a little olive oil until just starting to wilt. Remove from heat.

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3. Lower heat on your grill to medium/medium-low and coat one side of the dough with olive oil. Here comes the fun part. Grab your dough, and flip it onto the grill grates- oiled side down (if it folds up, oh well.. grilled pizzas are pretty no matter what!). Close the lid and let it cook for about 5 minutes. Check after about 3 minutes for bubbles, pop if needed. When you get nice grill marks on the underside, slide the dough onto a cutting board or pizza paddle. 4. Oil the not-yet grilled side of the dough and flip over. Assemble your pizza on the grilled side. Spread a generous amount of tomatoes, sprinkle with basil, oregano, and a little crushed red pepper. Arrange the sliced mozzarella and pepperoni atop the sauce. Spread out the kale and ramps evenly on top. 5. Return the pizza to the grill. Grill for another 5-7 minutes or until the bottom is cooked nicely. Slide the pizza off, cut, and enjoy! IMG_1525 IMG_1526 …. I’m thinking of pickling some ramps next……

Spring Fever!!

IMG_1171fresh out of the tree

Yes, it’s only the beginning of March… but was sunny yesterday, sunny today, and should be sunny tomorrow. There is not a cloud in the sky, the thermometer reads 49 degrees, and the sap is running!

What better way to celebrate this weather than to plant seeds and start thinking GARDENING!?! I finally found time to get my hands dirty – literally dirt-y! Then I baked a vanilla cake with maple frosting (recipe to come) and layed out on the porch to bask in the glory of sun and fresh air! Check out some photos…

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tapped trees

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sugarwoods

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pouring down the lines

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boiling during a beautiful sunset

And for the planting of seeds….

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Using the sink to expand the seed-starting peat… great idea!

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oh the garden dilemma – so many seeds, so little time!

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peppers, just waiting to sprout

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What I’ve planted for veggies (thus far!)
4 – Jalapeno
4 – Cherry Pepper
4 – Pepperoncini
5 – Orange Bell Pepper
5 – Chinese Giant Bell Pepper
3 – Chili Verde Pepper
2 – Hot Lemon Pepper
3 – Tomatillio
3 – Yellow Pear Tomato
4 – ‘Long Keeper’ Tomato
14 – Roma Tomato
3 – ‘Mortgage Lifter’ Tomato
3 – ‘Jubilee’ Tomato
6 – Broccoli
6 – Cauliflower
4 – ‘Romanesco’ Broccoli
3 – ‘Black Beauty’ Eggplant
3 – ‘Asian’ Eggplant
5 – Cabbage
5 – Purple Cabbage
6 of each – Fennel, Leek, Celery, Lavender, Oregano, Sage, Thyme, Dill, Basil, Thai Basil, Cilantro, Parsley
 
What I’ve planted for flowers (thus far!)
Marigold Snowdrift
Marigold Marietta
Zinnia Cut & Come Again
Zinnia Purity
Zinnia Pinwheel
Coleus
Chrysthansemum Polar
Chrysthansemum Tri-color
Painted Daisy
Dianthus
Columbine
Delphinium