Monday, October 17, 2011

Cinnamon and Apples

There is nothing like the smell of warm butter, apples and cinnamon on a fall day.  A family tradition during the fall and winter is to have pan-fried apples for breakfast.  It is like apple pie without the crust but quick to make and delicious with the other items on your breakfast plate.  Here is the recipe:

(Note:  You can increase and decrease this recipe to meet your needs - this is a hand-me-down recipe that has no specific measurements so play around with it).

Apples (see below)
Ground Cinnamon
Brown sugar light or dark
butter or Canola oil
A well seasoned frying pan - Cast iron is best
Dried Cranberries - optional.

Apples - pick Gala's, Empires, Pink Lady or your favorite apples.  How many?  One per person to be served.
Core the apples and cut into wedges - should be able to get 8 out of each apple

Using skillet - medium high heat - I love my cast iron pans - use 2 tablespoons of butter or Canola. (Butter is traditional but for those cutting their fat can use the Canola.

Once the butter melts (don't let it burn), add the apples and keep them moving so they don't burn.  (If using the oil wait till it gets hot but not smoking).

As the apple brown, add brown sugar - for about 4 apples a 1/2 cup is fine.  Increase by increments if you have a lot of apples. Too much over powers the apple flavor and makes it too sweet.
Let the sugar melt as you keep the apples turning so they are coated by the syrup that is forming.  Sprinkle ground cinnamon to taste.

Keep the apples moving so that they caramelize in the brown sugar and cinnamon.  I like to add dried cranberries but you don't have to.  Raisins work, too!  A handful will do.  

When the apples are brown and coated add about 1/4 cup of water cover and steam a minute or so then remove the cover and let the water evaporate from the syrup that should be forming.  Keep the apples moving coating them in the syrup.

When apples are tender but not mushy serve!

Comments and suggestions are welcome!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Autumn is here! Yep, even in California

I have lived in California all of my life.  It is one of the most beautiful states in our country - sorry I am a little bias.  I have been to other states and have found them all beautiful in their unique way - Virginia, Louisiana, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Hawaii, New York, and Massachusetts.  When I lived in Los Angeles, you basically experience two distinct seasons, summer (May to October) and a combination of fall and winter which was often just cold and wet  (November to April).  When I moved to the Bay Area with all its micro-climates there was a sense of seasons that come close to the traditional Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.  Now, mind it is no way comparable to back east or other parts of the country where deciduous trees reign. No, no.  But here, if your patient and open yourself to a Northern California set of seasons you will see a cold, wet winter from November to February, a wet but warming spring from March to June with a couple of hot spells thrown in, a summer from June to late September, (again, it depends on where you are in the Bay Area since in the city it is foggy and cool but in the East bay and the valley you see from the 80's to triple digit hot and dry.  Then Fall slips in around October and the liquid amber trees flare up during mild days and chilly nights.  No it is not like back east and that is okay.

Recently, on my way to work the first week in October, the morning sunset was stunning and illuminated a fall day ready to begin.

The day was a mild with the air dry and warm with a dusty edge to it. The Sycamores and liquid amber trees are beginning to shimmer in reds, golds and rusts.  Until the rains came, the nights have turned chill with inky skies and the scent of hearths firing up signaled that our Northern California autumn has a arrived.  For you back east folks, if the temp drops below 60 around here in California, our little sun bunny skin break out into goose bumps and we flare up the heaters.  I know, that ain't cold but it is to

Some mornings on my way to work, I stop at La Boulange, my favorite food stop and I get a mocha to set me up for the day.  My favorite barista, Alexis always does clever things with the drink.  This past week she gave me an autumnal leaf to celebrate the advent of fall.
As Autumn evolves over the coming days, our California farms will finish the harvest, events like, Fleet Week (which just happened), harvest festivals and pumpkin patches will spring up along the highways, in open lots and special places like ArdenWood down in the south east bay.   Fall has come to California. 

Leah Piken Kolidas from  Creative Everyday has provided us with the theme of Autumn to enhance our creative powers.  I hope to complete a piece I started a week ago and get it ready for you all to see.  I love leaves and leaf shapes and with the colors of leaves right now is just stunning and I am inspired.  I am working on a piece that involves collage, printing and painting, so, look out for my next post which I hope will be by next week if not earlier.  Cheers and happy fall!