Tart, sweet & spicy apple rings.

Spiced canned apple rings.

You’re seeing apples everywhere aren’t you? They’re crazy this time of year. And when you live in a state like New York that’s known for it’s apples, you really see ‘em everywhere. It’s almost as bad as pumpkin (which has already been popping up, too). And I’m sure you’re thinking, “I’M OVER IT.”

This recipe is a bit different than your average September apple-fare, however.

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Black bottom, a new rhythm.

I love pie plates. Whenever I see one, I’m drawn to it. Big ones, small ones, ruffled ones, plain ones. I love them all. I don’t even make pie that often, but for whatever reason I just love ‘em. I don’t have all that many… maybe 6 or 7. But I just adore them. And really, when one has so many cute pie plates, they ought to be making more pies, amirite?

However pies are usually not my bag. I can make them just fine, but the crust is a pain in my ass & I’m always paranoid that the filling won’t set. I’m more comfortable with cakes than pies.

Black bottom oatmeal pie from a recipe by Four and Twenty Blackbirds pie shop.

Every once in a  while, though, a pie recipe crosses my path and I think “Holy crap that sounds good.” This is one of those. Truth be told most of the pie recipes from Four & Twenty Blackbirds are those kinda pies. Like that salty honey pie.

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Hard cider jelly… yes please!

When (if ever) is it appropriate to quote Destiny’s Child when posting a jelly recipe? Just asking for a friend.

“I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly”: A few months ago, the folks at Woodchuck Hard Cider asked me to create some recipes with their ciders. They sent me a bunch of different ones to sample & create with, and when I got them it was so hot out I couldn’t even think of cooking. So, I made a cocktail. And it was delicious.

But now that it’s fall, and it’s apple-time, I started thinking about those other ciders. And I thought, “Why not make a hard cider jelly?” I did it with champagne, Guinness, and tea (twice! No- three times!), so why the hell not use a hard apple cider?

Jelly made from Woodchuck hard apple cider.

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Toasted walnut maple cupcakes… with a maple rye whiskey butter glaze.

Toasted walnut maple cupcakes with a glaze made from Tap 357 maple rye whiskey.

For some reason, I always associate the maple-y flavors with fall. Maybe because that’s when maple syrup is tapped? Maybe because it goes great with pumpkin & cinnamon & nutmeg- all fall/winter flavors. Who knows. And even though it isn’t “fall” yet, the kids are back at school, the stores are shoving Halloween & Thanksgiving stuff in your face, and- like me- you probably have baking season fever. It’s a real thing, I swear.

So… here’s a cure.

No, not having a drink. Making cupcakes! Maple cupcakes. With an extra oomph: a maple glaze using maple syrup, maple rye, and butter.

It’s that time of year when it’s maybe SLIGHTLY (I emphasize slightly) more comfortable for baking, or having the oven on. Maybe if you’re lucky, the humidity is down too. The windows can perhaps be open during the day, as opposed to the constant hum of the air conditioner. Either way, it’s just that time. The time when I transition from canning my ass off to baking. It’s a slow transition, granted- especially when my garden is still in full swing & I’m wearing shorts. But it’s starting.

The smell of autumn isn’t far away.

Which means that it’s time to get started baking again, forreals.

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Hashtag caraway pickles, hashtag end-of-season garden.

Summer might be over, but the weather begs to differ. My garden is in full swing- cucumbers and tomatoes all over the place, green beans like crazy, banana peppers quicker than I can keep up with. Literally I picked 4 of them on Sunday and three more today. But I know it’s nearing the end, so I’m trying to enjoy them. And if I can’t do that, then get them all preserved or used up as fast as I can.

I made this big ol’ jar of pickles specifically for my dad. Other than me, he’s the only big caraway seed fan in the family. Sad thing is, I don’t like pickles. So this is allllll him. It’s a really easy recipe that doesn’t require canning, so you can make it and toss it in the fridge to let it sit a few days. I just put it in a repurposed spaghetti sauce mason jar.

It’s excellent with pork, or on sandwiches. Plus, because of the cinnamon & caraway, it somehow reminds me of the fact that autumn is coming.

Caraway seed pickles.

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It’s fairytale time.

Fairtytale eggplant and San Marzano tomato.

Last summer I briefly spoke about Fairytale eggplant when I made the Food in Jars’ recipe for it, pickled. However, at the time I couldn’t find Fairytale eggplant so I had to use Sicilian eggplant. Before that, I had only made melanzane sott’olio using regular large white eggplant (and I made it with a Black Beauty eggplant once as well, albeit with more salting & draining, since darker eggplants are more bitter).

It wasn’t until this year when I started to grow my own that I realized how tiny Fairytale eggplant is! They’re only a few inches long fully grown. However, there are benefits to them other than their container-friendly growth & tiny cuteness; they’re inherently less bitter, don’t need to be peeled before eating, have less seeds inside and have a creamier, sweeter flavor than their giant counterparts. Sold me!

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