Saturday, September 30, 2017

Tarte Tatin, a Fall tradition!

Hello, everybody!! Mary Jane is back with one of our traditional Fall recipes. We're gearing up for the balloon stampede here.

The Walla Walla Balloon Stampede is a forty year old tradition where balloonists come from all over the world to float the bright blue skies of Eastern Washington. This will be our fifth year crewing, which means we get up long before dawn, work fast and hard to get the balloons inflated, and then either help the school kids get a chance to get in the basket, or send them off on a beautiful ride over the wheat fields!
 We have so many wonderful memories...

 This was a special IMAX movie made at a vineyard. They tethered the balloons above the vineyard and spent a few hours getting sunrise and early morning video. It was kind of funny because as the drone went by, my kids had to crouch in the basket so they weren't seen.
 This was one morning last May when we'd had a cold snap. There was frost on the ground and we weren't even sure they balloons would be able to go up, but by the time the sun rose, it was warm enough for them to lift off!
A funny thing happened this year: the organizers said that they needed a design for their Tshirts, and they wanted it made with a specific piece of clip art. The prize was a jacket and a balloon ride for two (worth $500) My artistic sixteen year old jumped at the chance... and won! The people who chose the art had no idea it was a person who'd been crewing for the stampede for years, so when we showed up... Surprise! LOL. It's a fun twist to a family tradition...  Our usual crewing shirts will be her design. :D
Oh, before I forget, be sure to stop by Seerkerville on the fourth of October where I talk about the "Ten Ways Seekerville Made me a Better Writer"!
Anyway,  this is what we're up to... besides Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, WW Choral Society, sports, service projects, church classes, First Communion classes, learning to drive, getting driver's licenses, checking out colleges, taking SAT and PSATs, being an RCIA sponsor, setting up etsy stores, and youth group... ETC. (I'm forgetting something. I know I am.) But we still find time to cook!!
On to the Tarte Tatin!!
1)  France. Specifically, the city of Lyon. I didn't live there but I lived in a town like it, about forty minutes away, toward Troyes.
2) These apples. You can't really celebrate Fall without apples. You can eat them raw, or caramel apples or.... well, you can see all the ways from the cartoon we all remember of Johnny Appleseed, Disney version here!
3) Chuck Norris. I read a really funny Chuck Norris joke. (Hi, Jimmy!) You know, those ones like "the boogey man checks under his bed for Chuck Norris" and "Chuck Norris doesn't dial the wrong number, you answer the wrong phone" and "Chuck Norris has a grizzly bear rug in his bedroom; the bear isn't dead, it's just afraid to move".
Well, I read one that said, "When life gives Chuck Norris lemons, he makes an apple pie, and it's the best steak you'll ever eat."
I don't know why that struck me as SO FUNNY. But it did. And I started thinking about making an apple pie that wasn't a pie. We've had apple pie here twice lately and but I still have lots of apples and lots of hungry, dessert-loving kids!
So, that brings us to Tarte Tatin!
If you're not sure how to pronounce it, here's the phonological description:\ˌtär(t)-tä-ˈtan, -ˈtaⁿ\
Oh, that's not helpful? Well, I guess we all can't have linguistics degrees, I suppose. (OW! Julie just poked my ego with a sharp stick! Fine...)  I kept saying it to my husband until he told me, "That sounds like the end of a song." HA! Okay, true. Dun dun-DUN.
Anyway, moving on!
You'll need:
For the filling-
8 TBS butter
3/4 cups sugar
6-8 apples
For the crust-
1 stick plus 2 TBS butter
2 TBS sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup flour
pinch of salt
2-3 TBS of cold water

 Like so. What a pretty bowl! It's had an adventurous life so far. Something about a very friendly dog...
 Two eggs from the chicken coop. And a walnut. Not sure why that was brought to me when I asked for two eggs, but kids are funny that way.
 Make a well with the flour, salt, sugar. Add in the eggs and the butter.
 Mix with your fingers. Ok, if Chuck Norris can do it, we can, too! (Don't even ask if he can rub eggs into flour without feeling squicked out. He's CHUCK NORRIS.)
 Add cold water a TBS at a time until the dough forms a ball. Wrap it in plastic and put it in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes. It seemed like it was an awful lot of dough for crust. I mean, it's actually just one crust, not even two and it's the size of a kitten. And heavy. (Hold me, Chuck! I'm scared I'm doing this all wrong!)
 Add the butter and sugar in a cast iron pan.
 Stir as the butter melts. (Or employ a child to stir so you can go check your e-mail and read more Chuck Norris jokes.) Medium high heat seems way too hot for this, but this is really the way to go. Stay the course approximately 15 minutes. We're trying to get...
 Caramel. YUMMY. Resist the urge to eat it out of the pan. For one, it's SUPER HOT. Two, we need it.
 Chop apples in half. Skin and core. Layer onto the caramel. (Like how I said that so fast? As if chopping 8 apples takes only a few seconds? That is the genius of a food blog, my friends.)
 Now, several recipes did NOT mention this, but one did, and it was from an actual FRENCH recipe site. (I'm assuming they know what they're doing.) They said add 2 TBS of lemon juice. Sounded good to me. I'm pretty sure it's not so the apples won't turn brown. Boil the apples for 15 minutes on high, turning once.
 It probably seems like a recipe for a disaster. (ha! Recipe! Get it?) Boiling sugar on high for 15 minutes without really stirring?? But, don't wimp out and turn down the heat. The apples will cook more slowly if you do, and then you'll have a huge sticky mess clumped to the bottom of your pan.
 Take the dough out of the fridge and roll out it, so that it's  a couple inches bigger than the diameter of your  pan. (It actually wasn't that much dough so I told Chuck Norris to buzz off. He was getting a little clingy, anyway. I mean, once you've seen a few of those karate moves, you've seen them all, right?) Preheat the oven to 375F.
 Turn off the heat and let it cool for ten minutes. Tuck the crust around the top of the apples but be careful not to burn your fingers. Even thought it's been cooling, these pans stay hot, hot, hot. I have to admit, at this point I was wondering if something had gone wrong. This looked like an apple pie's ugly barbaric cousin.
 Cook about 35 minutes or until the top is browned. (Now I was really sure I'd screwed it up. I was already thinking, "Hm, I wonder what else I can make with all these apples.")

Cool for approximately 20 minutes and invert. You can slip a plate on the top and flip the whole thing over, but that takes some muscle. I actually did a slow slide, turning the Dutch oven until the pie turned gently onto a plate. I had to replace a few apples but it saved my wrists. (And you KNOW how I watch those wrists! These are my writing hands! Must... save... the hands....)
 SHOCKER! It looked so pretty! I was very surprised at how beautiful it was!
 I cut a piece and admired it some more. It held its shape but wasn't tooth-breakingly hard. The apples had softened the caramel and the caramel had seeped into the apples and the crust was like a very sticky cookie, but a bit flaky, too.
 Another shot of the goodness....
I was thinking it didn't quite taste like the Tarte Tatin I remembered from France. I thought it could have used some cardamom or cinnamon or vanilla or... something. But I searched and searched and no recipe ever mentioned any other ingredients (well, unless it was some crazy SoHo New York City one that needed goat cheese and pistachios). So, it's probably just how the memory is better than the reality. Even though the reality is AWESOME.
And here is a last shot of what was left after ten minutes. Mmmm-hmmmmm.
I'll leave you with one more Chuck Norris joke:
Chuck's gmail account address is:
This took me a second. I assume you'll get it a little faster since I'm overdosed on Tarte Tatin!

 Until next time!

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Pumpkin Craze Once Again

Missy Tippens

Yesterday we had apples. Today, I'm talking pumpkin! The craze has hit me once again this year. I love fall, and somehow, the craze of pumpkin everything helps me welcome the season. 

I've pulled out the cinnamon/pumpkin/vanilla hand soap.

I've bought the pumpkin bagels. And the pumpkin cream cheese.

I've bought the pumpkin spice creamer. Yep, had to show my team, too. :) We won last week in a crazy, crazy ending! After the other team scored in the last seconds to go ahead, I headed outside to take the dog out, totally bummed about the loss. When I came back in, my husband was hopping up and down, cheering. The officials had reviewed the play and overturned the touchdown! Falcons won!

Okay, back to pumpkins. :) I've even bought the pumpkins for my front porch (however, I can't take a photo since it's dark outside while I'm writing this). :)

I also found this to try this year! Sparkling pumpkin spiced apple cider

So what about you? Have you started into your fall traditions?

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Applefest Weekend in Hilton New York

Apple Country.

That's what they call our segment of Western New York, nestled along the shores of Lake Ontario. We get cool, damp springs and warm, gorgeous autumns (most of the time) and that allows the apples just the right amount of time to grow... ripen... sweeten... and then the frost brings them to the bags and baskets of pickers.

Our town is famous for its Apple Fest.

The Applefest is put together each year by a dedicated committee of people who oversee the scheduling, the positioning and the behind-the-scenes maneuvering to engineer a festival that draws tens of thousands of people to our little town of Hilton... 

Over a two-day festival on a plot of land that's centered around the Community Center, an old high school building ripe with memories and nostalgia.

Here's a glimpse of this year's brochure. 

Vendors come from all over. Farmer Dave's mother and sisters showcase beautiful tables of crocheted and knitted items. For babies, for kitchens, for wearing, blankets, afghans, washcloths... Over a hundred vendors bring their wares and goods to the festival site and pray for good weather... which can be an iffy proposition here in Western New York in October!

A few area farms take part in the ring of farm wagons along the blacktop... Food of all kinds, from licensed vendors and food trucks to local agencies and non-profits selling everything from hot dogs to cannolis.... and anything you can make with apples! Apple sundaes... apple cider... hot apple cider.... apple pie.... apple cake.... apple fried cakes... cider donuts... apple crisp.... apple dumplings.... I'm beginning to feel like Forrest Gump and Bubba and the SHRIMP routine in Forrest Gump.

It's a crazy fun, busy, turn-the-town-over-to-others time because you can't get near the pharmacies or grocery stores, or the gas stations, or the restaurants until early evening. Every parking space is full and folks who can't find one, park at the high school and take the shuttle bus in.

It's a wonderful way to celebrate the amazing bounty of our land... our town, famous for its apple farms... our climate... and our willingness to work together. The committee holds a "logo" contest each year, and chooses a new logo for that particular year... I love this one from 2002...

Local men and women sell goods and wares, families sell things along the sidewalks, and there's a joy that pervades the whole affair... but why not?

It's all about APPLES!!!! 


And once we realized we were meant to be a pumpkin farm in the midst of fall, the Apple Fest brings us lots of business. We're already firing up the ovens to get baked goods ready for Saturday. Whoopie pies, cookies, and breads... And jams. The Very Berry Cherry is the crowd-pleasing favorite, so I'll make and bottle two batches of that today.... that way they're ready for the weekend sales!

It's fun to live in a small town. It's a glimpse into the world of today through the looking glass of yesterdays.... old buildings, new customs, old men bearing flags, young women pushing strollers. 

It's part of the fabric, part of the tradition, and when we talk apple pie around here, well... it's a serious conversation!

So that's what's happening this week and this weekend. Thousands of pumpkins for sale... Indian corn, so varied and pretty! Gourds, squash, butternut, buttercup, acorn, spaghetti.... 

And a festival celebrating the humble fruit that began it's heyday as a VERY TEMPTING orb in the Garden of Eden... But a welcome fruit here, at our table, any time!

And in three weeks, this beautiful story hits the shelves across America... and I'm delighted to see it happen. My 20th book with Love Inspired, and it's been a wonderful partnership from the beginning... Keep watch for it, I love to hear when people first spot it... and where!

Multi-published author Ruthy Logan Herne has over 40 published novels and novellas... she's living her dream of being a published author and can be found knee-deep in pumpkins this time of year on their pumpkin farm in Western New York... you can find Ruthy on Facebook, on Twitter or visit her website  She loves to hear from readers! 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Red Lentil Rotini

It's been a rather crazy week with a family emergency, so my youngest stepped up to the plate to do this blog for me.

This is my vegan girl and she found a new favorite food - Red lentil rotini with heirloom tomato, zucchini, eggplant, yellow and orange carrots, corn, kale, and broccoli.

She says it would be good with mushrooms or cauliflower, too. She imagines most people would want sauce, but the tomato was so juicy, and she's not really into sauce.

The brand is Ancient Harvest, but she is also really into Explore Cuisine's bean and legume pastas and Ezekiel's sprouted grain pasta. Whole Foods sells some other brands that make lentil and chickpea pasta. Simply Legumes and Panzo.  All yummy, quick, and high protein.

She essentially did a photo essay for me, so I am just going to let the photos speak for themselves.