Thursday, October 27, 2011

I Love Fall, and Especially Apple Picking

There is something magical to me about Fall.  It's my all time favorite time of the year, the crisp air, the beautiful colors of the leaves changing, pumpkin spice latte, boot season, and let's be honest, much better hair weather than the Summer time! 

A few weeks ago the Gimpster and I went apple picking with a small group of friends.  The sad thing was - it ended up being 80 degrees and it was the second weekend of October!  Needless to say, I could not wear any of my cute boots, but we did get to go on a hayride.

The next weekend we were headed to Virginia for Gimpy's homecoming, so I had to figure out something to do with all of my apples aside from the required apple crisp that I made that afternoon.  I wanted to be able to use a lot of apples - I had 28 or so to cut up and cook - so I made two batches of apple cumble coffee cake.   

Apple Crumble Coffee Cake
For the cake:
1 stick unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups peeled, cored, and chopped apples

For the crumble:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

Preheat the oven to 350. 

In your mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time until fully mixed in.  In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  Add to the wet ingredients a little at a time, alternating with the sour cream and vanilla until all are blended together.  Fold in the apples and pour into a buttered 13x9 baking dish. 

To make the topping, mix the dry ingredients in a new bowl and cut in the butter with a pastry cutter, or if you're like me and don't have one, two knives.  Pour the crumble over the cake and bake for 35-40 minutes. 

Once I made the coffee cake, I realized I still had a TON of apples left, and I didn't know what I could do with them all.  I don't have the freezer space right now to freeze whole pies or anything!  Luckily a co-worker told me that you can easily freeze apples.  I set off right away peeling, coring, and slicing the rest of my apples so that I now have about 6 baggies in my freezer each filled with 2-3 apples ready to be thawed and used in baked goods all winter long!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Happy 95th Birthday Grandma

My paternal grandmother is one of the strongest, most amazing women I've ever met.  She married a man she loved and very importantly respected, raised six strong sons, traveled the world, and continues to teach everyone around her on a daily basis.  This weekend, she turned 95, and we had a big family birthday party to celebrate. 

I was in charge of flowers, so I went out to Whole Foods and looked around to see what would be appropriate for five centerpieces on a beautiful Fall day.  I am a big believe that the mark-up florists charge is astronomical, and I know their overhead is huge, and flowers are fragile so they need to have their prices to make a decent living and profit, but I also think with a little imagination you can create something beautiful for considerably less money. 

Gimpy and I went after church to check out the flower selection.  They always have beautiful blooms, and have much more of a selection than other grocery stores, and better prices than a florist.  I picked out some Harvest Bloom roses, which have an interesting meaning - friendship that's falling in love.  I got some beautiful mustardish colored daisies, some hypericum berries, and some greenery.   I think they came out beautifully.