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Turkish Dried Fruit

Posted by / Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Image: turkishblue/Shutterstock

The other day I tried something truly amazing: Turkish dried apricots. I’m a big dried fruit fan, and have tried almost every kind of dried fruit at least once, but these I had never seen. They weren’t bright orange like your typical dried apricots, but a dark brown color. And they didn’t taste as tart as your average dried apricot; they were much denser and had richer, almost chai-like spice flavor to them.

Have you ever wondered why all dried fruits seem to be Turkish? Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, or any of your other trendy markets always seem to sell such worldly items such as “Swiss Muesli” or “Turkish Apricots.” Dried fruit has its origin in Mediterranean areas because that’s where the raw fruit such as apricots, grapes, dates and figs would grow and dehydrating them was the earliest form of food preservation.

Dried fruits and nuts play a big part in Turkish culture, including ancient village festivals, weddings and other celebrations. You can read more about the cultural significance here.

Dried fruits are particularly great as we move past the ripe summer season and into fall and winter. While fruit imported from seasonal harvest-heavy regions tend to be more expensive, dried fruits are more available and economical.

You can buy them at your local Harris Teeter or Whole Foods.

-Julia Harbo


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Oktoberfest-fest!

Posted by / Thursday, October 6th, 2011

I know it looks bleak, but it was actually lots of fun!

Guten tag, once again!

Last week, despite the bleak weather, I trekked out to Vienna to partake of their annual Oktoberfest- and I wasn’t the only one. Cold, insistent drizzle and wet, chilly air couldn’t keep away the throngs of enthusiastic German beer lovers. The streets were lined with local vendors and the crowds were lined with happy patrons.

You gotta love the energy and the dedication of the people of Vienna. The German music was loud and lively and smells of sausage and sauerkraut filled the air.

If you didn’t make it out last weekend- don’t despair! There’s plenty more where that came from- and so far the weekend weather outlook is sunny and gorgeous- perfect fall weather for an outdoor festival! So go get your schnitzel on!

This helped

Check out all the Oktoberfest celebrations happening this weekend:

Capitol City Oktoberfest - October 8, Noon – 7 p.m. 40+ breweries giving out 4 oz samples. Shirlington Village, 4001 Campbell Avenue, Arlington; (703)578.3888;  $25 if you want to sample beer, otherwise free

Reston Oktoberfest - October 7-9,  Individual Oktoberfest food and beverage tickets may be purchased on site for $1 each, or in sheets of 24 for $20! Reston Town Center, 1763 Fountain Drive, Reston; (703)707.9045; Free admission

Oktoberfest at City Square Café - October 8, 5 p.m.  A select menu includes a la carte pricing for each course, ranging from $6.50 to $19, along with German wines and beers. City Square Cafe, 9428 Battle Street, Manassas; (703)369.6022;

Also be sure to check out our calendar for other events this weekend happening near you!

– Jennie Whistler

 

 


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Spice Rack Breakdown

Posted by / Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

My latest pride: my spice rack.

After moving into a new apartment, I’m finally getting closer to unpacking all of my things and was beyond ecstatic to get this baby set up. My beloved spice rack was given to me by my sister and brother-in-law, and it’s been hands-down the best kitchen companion I could ask for.

At first, I felt a little overwhelmed by the amount of unfamiliar spices on this revolving monster: cardamom, caraway, marjoram, what?! But after some time I grew to love the thing, how it spins so swiftly with a flick of my wrist and I can pull out whatever color of the spice rainbow calls out to me at any given moment.

I have to admit, having this spinning savior can get a little dangerous, too. I find myself tempted to put a dash of this and a shake of that in everything (to my pan of scrambled eggs– a little bit of paprika? sure, why not!). So to spare anyone else from going spice crazy overboard, here’s a brief breakdown of what you can use different spices for.

Allspice—used in many baked goods; smoother and milder than cloves
Anise—a mild licorice flavor, used in cookies or other baked sweets
Basil—slightly sweet and herby, used in Italian and Mediterranean cooking
Caraway Seed—herb seed of the parsley family; slightly bitter, this is the seed of rye bread
Cardamom—rich and flavorful; used in Indian cooking
Cayenne—also known as red pepper; hot and spicy
Chili Powder—blend of dried chilis and herbs, not spicy like cayenne
Cilantro—fresh tasting herb; used in marinades, salsa or fresh dips such as for fish tacos
Cinnamon—mild sweet flavor; used mostly in sweet desserts, but also really good in chili, such as Hard Times’ Cincinnati Chili
Cloves—very strong and bitter flavor; used in desserts or sweet vegetable dishes
Coriander—citrusy, sweet and tart flavor; dried seed of cilantro; used in curries, soups and stews
Cumin—aromatic strong and hearty flavor; great with tomato dishes such as chili
Curry Powder—spice blend of typically cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom
Dill Seed—herb used in pickles, dressings, or potato salad
Ginger—sharp and sweet flavor; used in sweet baked goods or curries
Fennel—licorice flavor
Marjoram—similar to oregano and mint, but sweeter and more subtle
Nutmeg—sweet and nutty flavor
Oregano—used in Italian cooking; mild herby flavor
Paprika—from sweet peppers; gives a bright red color and slightly smoky flavor
Parsley—fresh flavor, often used as a garnish
Rosemary—needle-like texture with strong flavor, used in Italian cooking
Sage—herb member of the mint family; typically used in stuffing
Tarragon—mild licorice flavor
Thyme—very strong herb; used in Greek and Italian cooking
Turmeric—natural yellow color and mild flavor of the ginger family

See the complete list here.

And just for fun:

-Julia Harbo


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Crop Rapport – Stone Soup Bakery

Posted by / Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Farmers Market in Burke

Even through the driving rain and cold wind that blew through the area last weekend, loyal patrons, decked out in galoshes and ponchos, shaking water from their hair still cheerily shopped the mini streets of the Burke farmers market. It’s heartening to see that even the foulest weather couldn’t deter those tried and true local clients, hurrying to get their fresh apples, fragrant herbs and bright vegetables.

Local, seasonal vegetables

Among the local produce vendors, intermingled with startlingly vivid flower stands and fresh-baked breads rests a small, unassuming tent piled high with fresh cookies, pies and brownies and manned by the cheeriest people, despite the nasty weather.

Owners Jennifer Graybill & Johnny Connolly

I’m talking about Stone Soup Bakery, a brand-new business run by local brother and sister team, Jennifer Graybill and Johnny Connolly. The bakery name, I’m told, is derived from the folk tale of the same title. “The message we took from the story is that if everybody contributes a little, it can make a whole lot,” Graybill said.

Well said. A duo that has always been baking, the two recently decided to take their wares public and have made their debut at the Burke Farmers Market. As of right now, all the cooking is done out of Graybill’s home kitchen and their products are sold only at this location.

An assortment of delicious goodies

This family is an example of team work at its finest; Connolly does the pie baking while Graybill creates the cookies and all of their products are made with as many local ingredients as possible. Because they work a lot with local produce, their flavors are more seasonal- right now apple and pumpkin pies are being highlighted in honor of Thanksgiving!

I had the opportunity to taste their pumpkin pie, of which they are especially proud- and with good cause! The smooth, custard-y filling is made from half fresh apple butter and half pumpkin. It simmers in a mix of sweet and savory spices for hours before it’s poured over a ginger snap pecan crust. The crust is truly what makes this dessert special. It’s thick and flaky, with just the right amount of texture that just melts away in your mouth.

Pumpkin pie with ginger snap, pecan crust

You’re gonna want to order this bad boy in advance for your Thanksgiving dinner- or perhaps just for dinner tonight.

What’s more, you can order it for your Thanksgiving dinner and pick it up from them in the same location (Burke VRE parking lot) the Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving to ensure you the freshest possible dessert. That that, Sara Lee!

Get your order in now!

Their cookies are all moist and chock-full of delicious fillings. Whether it’s double chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin (my personal favorite), you won’t be disappointed- there’s something for everyone!

Fresh cookies by Stone Soup Bakery

Not only were the baked goods a delightful treat, it was a real pleasure talking with and getting to know this family. Not only are they creating wonderful desserts and baked goods, but they’re contributing a positive image to farmers markets everywhere. You could tell that they took great pride in what they were doing and that they truly enjoyed doing it. Fresh, local ingredients and friendly faces are what helps the local markets persist and thrive in today’s economy- and Stone Soup is doing everything right.

Come see for yourself! Visit Stone Soup every Saturday at the Burke Farmers Market. “We love being at Burke Market,” said Connolly. “We live here, sell our products here, and contribute to our home community.”

And that’s what it’s all about, kids.

Visit them on Facebook and “Like” their page!

Visit them in person:
Burke Farmers Market • 5671 Roberts Parkway, Burke – Sat, 8-noon

Stone Soup Bakery – 703.909.6089; stonesoupbakery@yahoo.com

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Northern Virginia Farmer’s Market and Hours:

Annandale Farmers Market • 6621 Columbia Pike, Annandale – Thu, 8-noon 
Arlington Farmers Market • N. 14th St. & N. Courthouse Road, Arlington – Sat, 8-noon 
Ashburn Farmers Market • 44036 Pipeline Plaza, Ashburn – Sat, 8-noon
Ballston Farmers Market • N. Stuart St. & N. Ninth St. – Thu, 3-7 p.m. 
Brambleton Farmers Market • 22875 Brambleton Plaza, Ashburn – Sun, 9-1 p.m.
Burke Farmers Market • 5671 Roberts Parkway, Burke – Sat, 8-noon 
Cascades Farmers Market • 21060 Whitfield Place, Sterling – Sun, 9-1 p.m.
Clarendon Farmers Market• 3100 Wilson Blvd., Arlington – Wed, 3-7 p.m.
Columbia Pike Farmers Market • S. Walter Reed Drive & Columbia Pike – Sun, 9-1 p.m.
Community Farmers Market • West & Main Streets (Sat), North St. & Old Lee Highway (Sun), Fairfax – Sat: 8-1 p.m.; Sun: 10-2 p.m.
Crystal City Farmers Market • Crystal Square Arcade between S. 18th and 20th Streets – Tue, 3-7 p.m. 
Culpeper Farmers Market • E. Davis & Commerce Streets – Sat, 7:30-noon
Dale City Farmers Market • Dale Blvd. & Minnieville Road, Dale City – Sun, 8-1 p.m.
Del Ray Farmers’ Market • E. Oxford & Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria – Sat, 8-noon 
Fairfax Farmers Market • 3720 Old Lee Highway, Fairfax – Tue, 8-noon
Falls Church Farmers Market • 300 Park Ave., Falls Church – Sat, 8-noon 
Fredericksburg Farmers Market• George and Prince Edward Streets, Fredericksburg – Mon-Sat, 7-6 p.m.; Sun, 12:30-4 p.m.
Frying Pan Farmers Market • 2709 West Ox Road, Herndon – Wed, 8-12:30 p.m.
Great Falls Farmers Market • 750 Walker Road, Great Falls – Sat, 9-1 p.m. 
Haymarket Farmers Market • 1500 Washington St., Haymarket – Sat, 8-2 p.m. 
Herndon Farmers Market • Lynn and Station Streets, Herndon – Thu, 8-noon
Kingstowne Farmers Market • Kingstowne Center & Kingstowne Blvd., Franconia – Fri, 4-7 p.m.
Leesburg Farmers Market • 20 Catoctin Circle S.E., Leesburg – Sat, 8-noon
Lorton Farmers Market • 8990 Lorton Station Blvd., Lorton – Sun, 9-1 p.m.
McLean Farmers Market • 1659 Chain Bridge Road, McLean – Fri, 8-noon 
Middleburg Farmers Market • 300 W. Washington St., Middleburg – Sat, 8-noon
Mount Vernon Farmers Market • 2501 Sherwood Hall Lane, Alexandria – Tue, 8-noon
Nokesville Farmers Market • 13005 Fitzwater Drive, Nokesville – Sat, 8-noon
Oakton Farmers Market • 3200 Jermantown Road, Oakton – Wed, 8-noon 
Old Town Alexandria Farmers Market
 • 301 King St., Alexandria – Sat, 5:30-11 a.m.
Old Town Manassas Farmers Market • 9201 Center St., Manassas – Thu, 7-1 p.m.; Sat, 7:30-2:30 p.m.
Nokesville Farmers Market • 13005 Fitzwater Drive, Nokesville – Sat, 8-noon
Purcellville Farmers Market• 751 E. Main St., Purcellville – Sat, 8-noon
Reston Farmers Market • 11400 Washington Plaza W., Reston – Sat, 8-noon
Smart Markets – Centreville • 5875 Trinity Parkway, Centreville – Fri, 3:30-6:30 p.m.
Smart Markets – Fairfax Corner • Grand Commons Ave., Fairfax – Tue, 3:30-6:30 p.m. 
Smart Markets 
 Gainesville • 13297 Gateway Center Drive, Gainesville – Sun, 10:30-1:30 p.m.
Smart Markets – Herndon • 460 Elden St., Herndon – Thu, 3:30-6:30 p.m.
Smart Markets – Oakton • 2854 Hunter Mill Road, Oakton – Sat, 10-2 p.m. 
Smart Markets – Reston • 11890 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston – Wed, 3:30-6:30 p.m.
Upper King Street Farmers Market • 1806 King St., Alexandria – Wed, 3-7 p.m.
Vienna Farmers Market • 131 Church St. N.E., Vienna – Sat, 8-noon
Wakefield Farmers Market • 8100 Braddock Road, Annandale – Wed, 2-6 p.m.
Warrenton Farmers Market • Branch Drive and Warrenton Village Center (Wed), S. Fifth & Lee Streets (Sat) – Wed, 7-1 p.m.; Sat, 7-noon
West End Farmers Market • 4800 Brenman Park Drive, Alexandria – Sun, 9-1 p.m.

– Jennie Whistler


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Killer Fish Tacos, Dude!

Posted by / Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

The other night I had the pleasure of enjoying a fantastic meal of fish tacos at my boyfriend’s parent’s house. Fish tacos have recently become one of my favorite meals; every time I have them I am reminded of how good they are, with so many fresh flavors and textures. Plus, enjoying some fish tacos makes me feel like a cool Californian surfer, like this dude:

Here’s my recipe for ridiculously delicious and easy fish tacos. Most fish tacos are made with mahi-mahi, but I use tilapia because I like the mild taste and it’s generally less expensive. I use a bean-corn-tomato dip recipe as the topping for the tacos, and it compliments them amazingly. Finally, they’re topped with a killer sauce my boyfriend whipped up to give the tacos an ultimate zesty kick. These fish tacos are Wapahh! good:

(Serves four)

For the converted dip-topping:

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can sweet corn
1 large tomato, diced
1 small red onion, diced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper, to taste
Sprinkle of cayenne pepper (if you want an extra kick)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix together thoroughly. Put aside, either in refrigerator or leave out at room temperature.

For the sauce:

1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
Juice of 1/2 lime
A couple leaves of cilantro, finely chopped

In a small bowl, whip together mayonnaise and vinegar with a spoon. Add the honey and the lime, and lastly, the cilantro. Put aside.

For the taco essentials:

4-12 small soft corn tortillas (depending on how many tacos you plan on eating)
3 tilapia filets
Salt and pepper, to season
About 1 tablespoon of olive oil, for pan frying

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Season the filets with salt and pepper on both sides and throw in the pan when hot. Cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side or until cooked all the way through. Don’t worry about keeping the filets intact as you serve them in medium-sized chunks anyway. When finished, put the fish into a bowl with a spoon for easy serving.

Warm the tortillas in the microwave or in the oven.

To assemble, spoon some fish onto your open tortilla, followed by a generous serving of the dip-topping, and finally, the sauce. I like to finish it off with a sprinkle of green chile hot sauce. Roll the tortilla together and dig in! Expect it to get messy and have extra napkins handy (or just lick your fingers like I do).

For more fish taco options, check out this Northern Virginia-based blog recipe or visit some of the fish taco-serving joints in the NoVA area, such as Taqueria Poblano‘s Baja Fish Tacos with beer-battered and fried mahi-mahi.

Enjoy, dudes!

-Julia Harbo


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Chicken Soup For Your Soul- And Your Health!

Posted by / Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

“Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food.” — Hippocrates

Cold weather breeds colds and I’m already feeling the bite of the season. This past weekend felt more like November in Seattle than October in NoVA and I, for one, began feeling the effects. The driving cold drizzle and the arctic (feeling) temperatures made me want to curl up on the couch and nurse my sniffles with that magic elixir known as chicken noodle soup.

It’s known the world over as an age-old home remedy for treating the common cold- but does it really work?

As a matter of fact, there may be legitimate healing properties to that cup of soup and there is actual scientific research being done to support this. The most widely cited of these studies, published in the medical journal Chest in 2000, is by Dr. Stephen Rennard of the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. He conducted laboratory tests to determine why chicken soup might help colds.

And a lot of research took place in the kitchen with Grandma:

Using blood samples from volunteers, Dr. Rennard showed that the soup inhibited the movement of neutrophils, the most common type of white blood cell that defends against infection. He theorizes that by inhibiting the migration of these infection-fighting cells in the body, chicken soup essentially helps reduce upper respiratory cold symptoms.

Read the full article here.

While no one seems to be able to pinpoint the exact ingredient that makes chicken soup so special, some think it may be a combination; that all the vegetables and herbs and protein work together in harmony to create the perfect, all-natural cold-buster!

Pretty cool, huh?

None of the research is definitive, but at the very least, the soup contains healthy vegetables and vitamins, keeps you hydrated and tastes good too!

Now, I’ve never made chicken noodle soup before. I’ve always grabbed a can or Campbell’s, dumped it in a pan with one can of water, and called it a day. But I’m a big girl now and feel like I deserve a big girl soup.

So- why not make it? Can’t be too hard, right?

Turns out, it’s not! In using ingredients that I already had lying around my kitchen, I was able to come up with a tasty and healthier version of that go-to canned soup.

Homemade comfort in a bowl

I simply used leftover grilled chicken from dinner the night before and any vegetables I had lying around in the fridge. I sautéed together onions, garlic, celery, baby carrots, yellow squash and a whole bag of baby spinach before pouring in some chicken broth, a box of pasta I had in the cupboard and the already-cooked chicken.

Use any seasoning you have on hand- I used dried Italian seasoning, dried basil, salt, pepper and a few healthy dashes of Tabasco sauce. Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat and cook everything together for about 20 minutes. I also added frozen peas at the very end so they didn’t get too mushy.

That’s it! I had a big girl, cold-weather, cold-fighting, vitamin-packed dinner that’s yummy, healthy and easy to make!

Find restaurants in your area serving up chicken soup!

Grandma’s recipe above is fine, but my way is quicker. So here’s a reference guide of ingredients I used:

About 2 cups of grilled chicken
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 an onion
1/2 cup carrots
1/2 cup celery
1 bag baby spinach
1 package frozen peas
32 ounces of Chicken broth
1 box of whole wheat noodles
To Taste:
Italian seasoning
Dried basil
Tabasco
Salt and pepper

Happy noodles, all!

– Jennie Whistler


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D.C.’s The Jockey Club Reopens as 2100 Prime

Posted by / Monday, October 3rd, 2011

 

The legendary restaurant formerly known as The Jockey Club, which served celebrities and politicians in D.C.’s Fairfax Hotel on Embassy Row, has reopened as 2100 Prime with a fresh focus on all-natural ingredients.

Executive Chef Mark Timms aims to serve an approachable cuisine that has been prepared with traditional techniques with the freshest ingredients. “An important piece of my work is to involve the local community, children, students and adults, introducing them to fresh, organic, aromatic and tender vegetables, herbs, fruits, fish and grass fed, hormone free meats. I want to bring what’s growing outside to our table here at 2100 Prime, creating a local dining experience for our guests,” Timms said.

The new fall menu includes items from quality organic farms and all-natural producers, such as:

Vermont Butter & Cream Co., Vermont (butter, goat cheese, and marscapone)
Pineland Farms, Virginia and Maine (beef strip loin and tenderloin)
Blue Mon Acres, Pennsylvania (chicken)
Grafton Cheddar, Vermont (cheddar cheese)

Featured on the fall menu is also a section called “Memory Lane,” which will bring back some of the old favorites of The Jockey Club, including their Lobster Thermidor and Dover Sole and Prime Steak Tartare.

New dishes of 2100 Prime include Heirloom Tomato (from Blue Mon Acres) Soup, Brie Spinach and Prosciutto Salad, Chicken ‘n’ Crepes, and Braised Lamb Shank.

“I believe in providing the freshest regional foods available incorporating hormone free meats, fish that is not over produced, and produce grown locally with no pesticides or chemicals. I hold an encompassing respect for farmers who nurture and protect the land,” said Chef Timms.

The restaurant also showcases a wine list with other 130 bottles of domestic and international wines.

2100 Prime is located in the Fairfax Hotel at 2100 Massachussetts Ave., NW (202-835-2100). See the full menu and restaurant website here.

-Julia Harbo


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Fall Food Favorites- Butternut Squash

Posted by / Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Image: SunnyS/Shutterstock

Well Gut Checkers, fall has finally arrived. While sad to see summer go, I usually always look forward to the autumn season; crisp fall air, vivid fall foliage and that slightly acrid smell of burning leaves lingering on your nose.

Yes, ‘tis the season of the Great Pumpkin and another one of my all-time favorite gourds: butternut squash. A popular winter squash, this bright orange, fleshy fruit is as pretty to look at as it is delicious.

One of the things I love about butternut squash is its versatility. Its sweet, yet savory flavor lends itself to all different cooking methods and recipes. It can be baked, grilled, sautéed, roasted- even microwaved!

Now let’s look at the facts. Butternut squash is low in calories and can even potentially aid in weight loss and management; because it is so dense and full of fiber, it fills you up faster. Fiber can promote weight loss because it slows down digestion and makes you feel fuller, longer. However, if you are eating butternut squash to lose weight, the preparation method is important. Don’t ruin it all by adding loads of butter and brown sugar (a popular holiday preparation).

Additionally, full of antioxidants like beta carotene and vitamin C, this squash is also great for your eyes, heart and immune system! A true superfood!

Read more about the health benefits of butternut squash.

So the trick then is to prepare it in a way that tastes good, but that doesn’t add a lot of extra calories and strip the nutrients. I love making squash as a side dish because it’s so easy to coax big flavors out of this small gourd.

This is a favorite recipe of mine: it’s super easy and the squash comes out warm, sweet and with a slight spicy kick.

1 Butternut squash, cubed (or one pre-cubed package)
1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil
Kosher salt
Black pepper
Cayenne Pepper
Cinnamon
Nutmeg

I’m purposefully not giving any measurements because the truth is, I don’t know how much I use. I usually just fly by the seat of my pants- which consequently drives my boyfriend, the Eternal Measure-er, crazy. The only advice I have is to go easy on the cayenne and the nutmeg at first; a little of each goes a long way.

Simply toss all the ingredients together in a bowl, then line on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or the squash is easily cut-able.

Don’t you just love my technical baking terms?

Of course, this is just one way. You could toss it with sautéed garlic and parsley, whip it into a mash or puree it into a hearty soup. Add your own favorite herbs and spices and make it your new favorite!

 

– Jennie Whistler


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How Do You Like Them Apples?

Posted by / Friday, September 30th, 2011

Image: Raffalo/Shutterstock

So, how do you like them apples?

No, really…that isn’t a disparaging phrase, it’s an honest question.

You can bite them, slice them, peel them, cook them, coat them in caramel, dip them in peanut butter…oh, yes, the list is endless.

My personal favorite way to eat an apple is plain, fresh and raw—there’s nothing better than first crunchy bite through the tough and bitter skin, making way to the sweet, juicy, slightly yellow inside. Some people eat the entire apple raw, core and seeds included (I know, but you’ll grow an apple tree in your belly!).

I’m not that extreme of an apple purist, but I do love apples, and all the things you can do with them. And what better time to enjoy apples than in the fall? That’s why I’m putting together a blog chain that will glorify the apple and all the things you can do with them, with one apple recipe per week.

 

 

The sun is shining (hopefully), the sky is blue, the air is getting crisp but not too cold, grocery stores are more stocked with apples than they’ve ever been, and all the local farmers markets and orchards are up and running. So go out there and get yourself some apples…how do you like them apples?!

This week’s recipe: 

“The Best Pancakes I’ve Ever Eaten”—Inadvertently Healthy Apple Cinnamon Pancakes

I discovered this recipe with my sister one morning this summer at our lake cabin in Northern Minnesota. We were looking for a recipe with simple ingredients (we used soy milk instead of regular milk because that’s all we had) and did not expect the results to be as good as they were. My dad even went as far as to say they were the best pancakes he’s ever had.

We made them with blueberries in the summer, but as it’s fall apple season, of course, I’m utilizing apples in this version.

Image: matka_Wariatka/Shutterstock

 

Adapted from cooks.com

Makes about 10 medium sized pancakes

 

1 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon sugar
1 egg
1 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup diced Golden Delicious apples (or Granny Smith if you prefer a slightly more tart flavor)
Pure maple syrup and powdered sugar to top

 

 

 

First combine the dry ingredients and form a donut shape in a bowl, leaving a hole in the middle. Add the wet ingredients to the center. Mix everything together with a spoon, making sure not to over-mix and to leave some lumps—this is very important to make your pancakes fluffy! Lastly, add the apples.

Whenever I make pancakes, I start by heating the pan with a small chunk of butter and as soon as it’s hot enough (I test it by flicking a drop of water on the pan and if it sizzles I know it’s good to go) I make one pancake at a time. I don’t add any more butter after the initial chunk and simply ladle in my batter until it runs out. It usually takes me a couple pancakes before I get the temperature just right, and the first one or two pancakes are completely soaked with butter so I discard them and the rest come out great.

To eat, dust with powder sugar and a little more cinnamon, top with warmed pure maple syrup, and enjoy!

Northern Virginia Apple Orchards (in alphabetical order):

Crooked Run Orchard (37883 East Main St., Purcellville; 540-338-6642)
Hartland Orchard (3064 Hartland Lane, Markham; 540-364-2316)
High Places Orchards (121 Winesap Lane, Flint Hill; 540-635-5537)
Hill High Farms (933 Barley Lane, Winchester; 540-667-7377)
Hollin Farms (11324 Pearlstone Lane, Delaplane; 540-592-3574)
Great Country Farms (18780 Foggy Bottom Road, Bluemont; 20135)
Graves Mountain (Graves Mountain Lodge, Route 670, Syria; 540-923-4231)
Mackintosh Fruit Farm (1608 Russell Road, Berryville; 540-955-2161)
Marker-Miller Orchards Farm (3035 Cedar Creek Grade, Winchester; 540-662-1980)
Nichols Farm (1832 Chapel Road, Middletown; 540-869-1258)
Richard’s Fruit Market (6410 Middle Road, Middletown; 540-869-1455)
Rinker Orchards (1156 Marlboro Road, Stephens City; 540-869-1499)
Stribling Orchard (11587 Poverty Hollow Lane, Markham; 540-364-3040)
Virginia Farm Market (1881 North Frederick Pike, Winchester; 540-665-8000)

-Julia Harbo


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Oktoberfest-fest!

Posted by / Friday, September 30th, 2011

(Image: Kzenon/Shutterstock)

Guten Tag, Gut Checkers!

This weekend, don’t miss out on your chance to put on your lederhosen and polka your eyes out! Here’s a guide to all the Oktoberfest events going on:

Fort Belvoir Oktoberfest
September 29 – October 2 - Fremont Field, Fort Belvoir; (703)879.4088; Prices and hours vary

Octoberfest at Sweetwater Tavern in Sterling
October 1, Noon - 5 p.m. - Sweetwater Tavern, 45980 Waterview Plaza, Sterling; (571)434.6500; Free

Vienna Oktoberfest
October 1, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.  - Historic Church Street in Vienna; (703)281.1333; Free

I am planning to head to the Vienna Oktoberfest myself, where I’m promised there will be lots of great German food, live music and beer gardens galore. I can’t wait to go get my bratwurst on!

I’ll see you there!

– Jennie Whistler


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