Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Brookfield Orchards

There are few places I love more.

Exaggeration?  Maybe, but hardly.  I love the apple orchard.  There is something about being surrounded by trees and a farmhouse, rolling hills and a country store, that makes me feel at peace.

And for me, the Apple Orchard is not a fall affair, but one that lasts through the year.  You see, my favorite orchard is open all year round.  It begins in the spring once the ground has hardened up enough so the mud won't cake our shoes.  I bring the kids and they play on the old fashioned playground complete with merry-go-round and teeter totter.  I play for a bit then sit and read a book in the grass under the shade of the perfect climbing tree.  I sit and take it all in and enjoy this piece of earth that has not yet fully succumbed to the modern.

When I tire of reading and my children have made their way to the sandbox, I walk over to the sturdy swing set and begin to pump.  My kids see the fun that I am having and join me for a swing.  My daughter wants a push, but my son is content to slowly sway, never flying too high.  After giving my daughter a few pushes, I get back on my own swing and pump my legs and forget for a few minutes that I'm a grown-up.

My daughter sees if she can keep up with my height and eventually exclaims, "Look how high Mommy's going!".  The kids slow their pace and race back to the sandbox or perhaps the merry-go-round.  I swing on.

The wind blows across my face and I lean back and close my eyes.  I suspend disbelief for a moment and I'm flying.  Opening my eyes I see blue sky, dotted by clouds, stretched out before me, framed below by trees.  I take in the view.

Eventually I stop swinging and check out what the kids are doing.  We head in to the country store for some honey sticks and maybe a cookie.  Springtime at the orchard is wonderful.

The visits continue through summer until fall arrives.

Fall at the orchard is delicious.

In the last weeks of August, I feel the season creep up on me.  Suddenly the early apples appear in the store.  The lodi and quinte come first.  This year I missed the earliest varieties and my first apples were Paula Reds.  From these apples I made plain dried apples and cinnamon dried apples in my food dehydrator.  My kids love these!  I also made apple cranberry crisp and swedish apple pie.  My refrigerator is still chuck full of apples so apple bread, apple pie and maybe another crisp are in order along with some more dried apples.

In addition to our regular visits to the orchard throughout the year, we make one visit as a family.  My husband is at work during the day, so he is not able to come with us during our many other trips.  This family trip takes place in September.  We arrive and the parking lot is bursting.  We navigate the bumpy road as we try to find a spot.  Once parked, we trek over to the entrance and wait in line to purchase our pick-your-own bag.  Having done that we head out into the orchard, stopping at the trees we like, sampling a few along the way.  We head to places where we can't see the row markers, pick an apple, bite into it and try to guess what we're eating.  MacIntosh?  Cortland?  Red Delicous?  It's a fun game.

Once our bag is full, we begin the game of apple balance.   Filling the bag to the brim has its drawbacks.  After putting the apples in the car, we head to the country store to poke around.  The kids love to watch the apple washer and I love to search for discount apples for apple sauce or pies.

Next, we head out to the snack bar.  On a busy day, we wait in line for 15 minutes.  It's so worth it.  The scent of kettle corn and apple dumplings fills the air and my mouth waters at the anticipation of the fall's first dumpling.  Once the treats are done, my husband and I sit at a picnic table and watch the kids enjoy the playground.

When we tell them it's time to leave, the kids are never ready.  With promises to return again soon, we coax them to the car.  They reluctantly oblige because as much as they love it at the orchard, they know Mommy loves it maybe a little more.

Last year's family trip to the orchard

A link to my favorite orchard: Brookfield Orchards

I hope you love it as much as I do!

Click the links for some great recipes:
Apple Crisp
Apple Cranberry Crisp
Apple Bread
Dried Apples
Swedish Apple Pie

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Apple Crisp

Image by Pippalunacy

This recipe from my mom's collection had an influence on my apple cranberry crisp recipe.  It does not contain oats, which I love in a crisp, but I find some people want a crisp with no oats.  So if you like your apple crisp minus the oats, try this one.  You won't be disappointed.

Apple Crisp


3 cups apples, peeled and sliced
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch salt
1 egg
1/4 cup butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread apples in a 9X9 pan sprayed with non-stick spray.  In a medium-sized bowl, mix together sugar, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and egg.  Spread on top of apples.  Cut butter into small squares and place evenly over topping.  Bake 35-40 minutes.

Nutrition Information
Serves 9
1 serving =
207 calories
6 grams fat
39 grams carb
1 gram fiber
2 grams protein

Nutrition information calculated using calorie count.

Weight Watchers Points Plus - 6
Weight Watchers POINTS - 4

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Family Recipe - Pumpkin Bread

If you are looking for a melt in your mouth, delicious quick bread for fall, look no further.  This tried-and-true family recipe is a sure winner!  It's another one straight out of my mom's recipe collection

Pumpkin Bread

This pumpkin bread calls for canned pumpkin, but freshly cooked pumpkin also works well.  Keep in mind canned pumpkin is dense, so if you plan on boiling your pumpkin, make sure to drain it well to keep the texture just right.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Helpful Tips on Equal Measures

Image by Pippalunacy

Did you ever wonder about equivalent measures while making a recipe?  Here's a helpful chart to help you out.

Remember to use liquid measuring cups for liquids, and dry for dry.  While they do measure the same, filling a 1 cup dry measuring cup to the brim with water will guarantee a bit of spillage before it reaches the bowl!

1 Tablespoon
1 cup
3/4 cup
1/2 cup
1/3 cup
5 1/3
2 2/3
1/4 cup
Half pint

Also note that in other countries dry ingredients are listed by weight vs. volume.  While that is technically a more accurate way of measuring, I have not run into any major problems using volume.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Recipe - Apple Bread

Image by Pippalunacy

Here is a recipe for a delicious fall treat.  You are in for a yummy surprise when you try this quick bread from my mother's recipe collection. Try it with or without nuts, you decide.

Apple Bread


3 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup oil
2 cups sugar 
2 eggs, beaten
1/2  teaspoon vanilla
2 cups apples, peeled and chopped into small pieces
1 cup walnuts (optional)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Recipe - Apple Cranberry Crisp

This recipe is inspired by a couple recipes I have already.  I added the cranberry for an extra tart punch.  I thought the results were delicious.  I hope you do too!

Mix sliced apples and cranberries.

After adding topping, distribute cubes of butter evenly.

Apple Cranberry Crisp


Fruit layer
3-4 cups apples, peeled and sliced
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/3 cup Demerara* sugar (you can use any sugar but this is a more natural one)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice**

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Musings - Salty Pancakes

Image by Pippalunacy

When I was a preteen I loved to cook on my own.  It was almost a right of passage learning my way in the kitchen.  My mom, gracious as she was, allowed me to endeavor into this world with a little trepidation.  My first true baking venture without parent supervision resulted in hairy cookies.  My neighbor and friend, Kate, helped me with those.  I also clearly remember chunky jello where I thought adding the cold water first was a great idea, because who really needs to follow the directions anyway?  Then there were various concoctions constructed by Cathy and I during our days-long sleepovers.  We made cakes and shakes and who knows what else.  I think her older brothers thought we were nuts.  My younger years were definitely filled with experimentation in the kitchen and I think it served me well.

Needless to say that though I learned from my kitchen ventures, a there were a few bumps along the road.  One such bump resulted in salty pancakes.

I was with my friend, Tara, and we had been playing outside for a good part of the day.  Supper time was nearing and for some reason that I cannot remember, my mom was not home.  I had to be about 12 or so.  Heidi was down the street with her friend and Tara and I decided that we should make pancakes.   We were going to be making them for several people so we decided to double the batch.

At this time in my life, my math skills were a bit weak.  And adding fractions, that thing you thought you'd never really need to know how to do, well your math teacher wasn't lying when she said you would need math in the real world.  Adding fractions is a real thing.

But I digress….

Saturday, September 12, 2015

New Facebook Page

Hi everyone!

Thanks so much for following me here on homecookedhandmade.com and now on Facebook.  If you haven't already "liked" my page on Facebook, head on over there and take a look and if you like what you see, "like" the page.

Home-cooked and Handmade

Promote Your Page Too

I just had a contest for a crochet towel holder and our winner was Jane.  We have 98 "likes" so far and once we reach 200, it will be time for another giveaway.

So if you like what you see, "like" the page and share it with your friends.  Hopefully we can create a fun community.

You can also share posts on Facebook directly from this site using the "f" button at the bottom of the post.

The crochet towel holder

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Mom's Pancakes

Image by Pippalunacy

Here is a great recipe for pancakes.  My husband who thought he did not like pancakes learned that if he tried the right ones, they were one of his favorite breakfasts.  I often double and sometimes even triple this breakfast treat.  I hope you enjoy this family favorite.  It's easy and delicious!

Mom's Pancakes


1 1/4 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
3 tablespoons oil
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup milk

Mix all the dry ingredients together.  Add the wet ingredients, stirring gently being sure not to over mix.    Place frying pan on medium heat.  Once heated, coat with non-stick spray and pour batter on by 1/4 to 1/3 cupfuls.  Flip when bubbles appear.  If pancakes appear to be burning, turn burner down slightly (I usually keep my burner at 4, one click below medium).  Serve with maple syrup and butter or topping of your choice.

Tip!  If you want to keep these hot while you cook, place an oven-safe dish in your oven at the lowest setting and place pancakes on the dish as you cook them.

Tip!  If you want fluffy pancakes that melt in your mouth, flip only once.  Over-flipping causes the pancakes to become rubbery.

Tip!  If you want to add less fat to your recipe, omit the oil.  The pancakes are still great, they just have a slightly different texture.

Nutrition Information:
Serves 4 (Divide pancakes into four servings for accurate nutrition information)
1 serving =
312 calories
13 grams fat
41 grams carb
1 gram fiber
8 grams protein
Good sources of calcium and iron.

Nutrition information calculated using caloriecount.com.

Weight Watchers Points Plus - 8
Weight Watchers POINTS - 7

Pancakes with no oil
Nutrition Information
Serves 4
1 serving =
222 calories
3 grams fat
41 grams carb
1 gram fiber
8 grams protein

Weight Watchers Points Plus - 6
Weight Watchers POINTS - 4

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Whole Grain Crispies

Did you know you can make rice krispie treats with virtually any cereal?  Well, I suppose they wouldn't be called rice krispie treats, but you catch my drift.  All you do is follow the directions on the package and substitute whatever cereal you like.

Here is a super easy recipe for what I call Whole Grain Crispies. My kids like these as much as the original recipe.  Sure they still contain marshmallows, but I think upping the whole food factor with puffed wheat is a bonus.  Besides, in my opinion, healthy living is about increasing the quality of your diet while still enjoying your favorite foods.  

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Musings - Blue Hands

Image by Pippalunacy
I had just been getting over a cold.  Sometimes for me this induces a slight feeling of dizziness.  It's not debilitating or even too disruptive.  It's just an odd sense when I sit still that I feel a bit of a swirl.  I'm sure it has to do with my inner ear or something of that nature.  Anyway, I was experiencing this dizziness and I did not think too much of it.

Just then I looked down at my hands and noticed that they were quite blue.  It was weird.  I began to get nervous and after (wisely or unwisely?) searching the Internet, I thought that maybe my dizziness was somehow related to circulation and I thought I had better call the doctor.

I waited a bit more, not wanting to overreact.  I asked my kids.  Did mommy's hands look blue?  Yes, they agreed that they did.  This sent me into more of a nervous state, thinking that I really had better call the doctor.

My husband arrived home from work and I let him know what was going on.  He looked at my hands and agreed they were indeed blue.  I was very concerned by now and put in a call to the doctor's office.  I let them know of my symptoms and they urged me to come right in.