Don’t Waste, Make Apple Sauce
We buy bulk organic apples. They are great to have on hand for quick and easy snacks. Sometimes we aren’t the best at eating them in a timely matter. They tend to start going soft making them not great to grab and go. While we could put them in the compost bin, I usually make apple sauce instead. Why waste them when you still can create something yummy?
Let’s talk about waste.
Turns out the wasting of food is a global problem. According to the World Food Program USA, nearly one-third of all food produced each year is spoiled before it can be consumed. It is noted that between 30 to 40 percent of the US food supply is wasted. That comes out to be roughly 20 pounds of food per person per month. Yes, 20 pounds per person per month. That’s shocking to me, but yet I can see that happening.
I try to use everything I buy especially fresh produce, but more times than I’d like to admit, a lot of it goes into the compost bin. I am embarrassed by this and I need to change how I meal plan and shop. We try to do the right thing with having a compost bin to cut down on what is going to the landfill and a rain barrel to collect water to use on plants.
I buy too much food. It is so easy to do so in the US with prepackaged produce and retail warehouse clubs. I go into these places with good intentions that I’m going to make this or that. And, well, the making of the meal doesn’t happen. I’m usually good at making something else, but sometimes the produce gets stuck in my veg bin.
Changing how I shop.
I need to change how I plan meals and shop. Going to the grocery store once a week is really convenient. We lead busy lives. I work part-time, run a business, go to graduate school, and volunteer outside of being a wife and mother. I need to make cutting food waste a priority. Not only for the planet but our budget. We’re on a tight budget right now so food wasted is money wasted.
I’ve tried to meal plan, but my changes taste on a daily basis. I look forward to dinner every night. That is the highlight of my food day so I have to really want it. And often meals changes as my taste of something does. It is hard to explain. I should do groceries every other day and pick loose produce over the pre-packaged.
Back to the Apple Sauce
Now back to the apple sauce. It is very easy and quick to do. Peel and chop the apples then add them to a pot with water, sugar, and cinnamon cooking until apples are soft. It doesn’t matter what kind of apples. I just use what I have on hand which is usually Gala apples. You can cut down on the sugar if you’d like just maybe add more cinnamon to keep the flavor high.
If you like the apple sauce, try the Cranberry Chutney.
- 4 apples cored, peeled, and chopped
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- Place apples in sauce pan with sugar, water, and cinnamon.
- Stir until mixed.
- Cook over medium heat until apples are soft usually 20-30 minutes.
- Store in glass jar in fridge.
Cranberry Chutney – A Multipurpose Condiment
Most American holiday tables from Thanksgiving to Christmas have some sort of cranberry dish. I grew up the jellied kind that came out of a can. Just slice it up and serve it. Sometimes my Mom would make a cranberry mold. All of it was good. It felt like I was eating dessert with my main course.
I never got my Mom’s cranberry mold recipe before she passed and she never wrote her recipes down so I had to make my own way. And maybe why it is important to me to write this blog for my son’s sake. I want to preserve and share family favorite recipes. I want my son to be able to have access to them to make for his friends and family when I am gone hopefully passing them on family traditions.
In our first year in Newport, we hosted a Thanksgiving dinner. And what is a Thanksgiving dinner without a cranberry product? Not Thanksgiving that’s what.
As I wandered through BJ’s, I came across a huge bag of cranberries from New England. On the back of this bag of Cape Cod Select cranberries was a recipe for a cranberry chutney. Why not I thought. Let’s just go for it. The huge bag of cranberry was in my cart.
This is a super easy recipe. A tart apple like a Granny Smith is best, I use Gala or whatever apples I have on hand. I recently made a batch and added overly ripe pear with the apple to the mixture. And very versatile. While you can serve this with turkey, you can serve it with other food. Warm some brie up and top it with this cranberry chutney. You can serve it with roasted pork. Top plain yogurt for an added punch to breakfast
- 4 cups cranberries
- 1 large apple
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 cup water
- 2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1. Chop up an apple. A tart apple is recommended, but use whatever you have on hand.
- 2. Combine all ingredients in saucepan.
- 3. Bring to a boil stirring along the way.
- 4. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes. Apple should be tender and the mixture thickens.
- 5. Serve warm or chilled.
Turkish Eggplant Tomato Casserole
One of my favorite vegetables is eggplant. I am always looking for new ways to cook eggplant. I can never eat enough of Turkish cuisine. It is one of the cuisines I hope to explore more of in the future to cook.
So when I came across Imam Bayildi or Turkish Eggplant Tomato Casserole, I had to make it. While this is a simple recipe, it is time-consuming. About an hour and a half so it isn’t a quick weekday meal, but a leisurely weekend one. Do not let the time scare you off, It is worth making it.
This dish is nice year round. It can be served warm or at room temperature. I have served it with hummus and pita or a cucumber salad. It also would go nicely with roasted or grilled meat.
Imam Bayildi Turkish Eggplant Tomato Casserole
- 2 pounds of medium-sized eggplant (I prefer Japanese eggplant, but Italian will do) thinly sliced
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1-4 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
- Dash of cinnamon
- 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley, divided
- 1 Preheat the oven to 350F.
- 2 Lightly salt the eggplant slices and allow to stand for 20 minutes. Pat the slices dry and set aside.
- 3. In a large skillet, heat olive oil.
- 4 .Pan fry the eggplant in batches over medium-high heat until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Add more oil as necessary between batches so the eggplant doesn't burn, but try not to have too heavy a hand - the pan just needs to be greased.
- 5. Remove the eggplant to a plate.
- 6. Add the onion to the skillet and saute over medium heat until soft.
- 7. Add the garlic, chili flakes, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and cinnamon. Cook for one minute more, until fragrant.
- 8 Add tomatoes and simmer until thickened slightly, 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in half the parsley.
- 9. Spread a layer of tomato sauce in an oven proof casserole dish. Layer eggplant and sauce.
- 10. Cover with foil or casserole lid and bake in the oven for 45 minutes, until the eggplant is very soft and the sauce has reduced.
- 11. Let it stand for 10 minutes before cutting into it.
- 12. Garnish with the remaining parsley and serve warm or at room temperature.
Years ago, a friend made me granola. It was amazing and she shared the recipe. I made it a lot then life got busy and it had quite a few ingredients. I just couldn’t keep up with keeping the ingredients in the kitchen and making it. I abandoned it.
Fast forward a decade or so, I am sitting a Girl Scout Women of Distinction breakfast in Providence, Rhode Island. The breakfast starter was granola, plain Greek yogurt, blueberries, and honey. It was divine! It got me thinking about granola again. What a nice change for breakfast would it be outside of my usual of Wasa crispbread and cheese or homemade bread and cheese. I went to the grocery store looking for granola. While there was a huge selection, none of them seem to work for me. I don’t know if it was all the ingredients with some I could not pronounce or the sugar or fat content, but I walked away empty handed. Off to the Internet, I went to seek out an easy simple granola recipe. I found it on The Live Fit Girls blog.
Granola Made Simple
The recipe was super easy and quick. Only six ingredients needed to make this recipe and you can make it in about 30 minutes. The key to this recipe is the quality of ingredients. I used organic and local products. They are worth seeking out especially the honey. That said if you can not find organic and local then buy what you can. I couldn’t find raw local honey, but I did buy some organic at the grocery store. As for my rolled oats, I went with Bob’s Red Mill Organic Old Fashioned Rolled Oats Whole Grain. Bob’s Red Mill products are always good quality. And they haven’t paid me to say so.
The preparation could not have been easier. Chop almonds and mix with oats then toast in the oven. While the oats mixture is toasting, you mix the wet ingredients. Once the oats are done then drizzle the honey mixture over the oats then pop by in the oven. The important step is in the toasting. You toast first at 350F then complete the toasting with the oven off. It makes the granola less likely to burn.
I made this recipe at night after a crazy day. Only took me 30 minutes. I let the granola cool overnight and it was ready for breakfast the next day. Recently I have been making this once a week and when I make my bread. Trying to use my time efficiently. Plus the house smells amazing… the sweet smell of toasted oats, almonds, and honey then the next day the house smells of freshly baked bread. Good to live in my house.
This recipe is really a winner at my house especially with my son who is not a breakfast eater and he loves this granola. It is fresh, flavorful, and you can pronounce all of the ingredients. We have it with blueberries, plain Greek yogurt, and local honey. It will keep you going the whole day. It even tastes yummy with just milk if you run out of yogurt. As for yogurt, use a good Greek yogurt. I’d recommend Fage or Chobai and I buy the fat-free versions.
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup raw almonds, chopped
- 1/2 cup raw honey
- 2 teaspoons melted coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix dry ingredients in a glass baking dish and toast them in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While the oats are toasting, combine the wet ingredients.
- After the oats are toasted (they should be very aromatic), drizzle the honey mixture over the oats. Stir until well combined.
- On a baking sheet lined with wax paper form a single layer of the oat mixture.
- Place the baking sheet back in the oven and turn the over OFF. This will allow the granola to finish toasting without burning. Let it sit in the oven for 5-8 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
Farm Fresh for Eggplant Okra Curry
During the summer, local fresh produce is abundant like eggplants and okra. Perfect for this simple eggplant okra curry dish that’s vegetarian. As I am traveling up the East Coast of the US on my way to our new home in Newport, Rhode Island, I plan on taking advantage of locally grown produce. Currently, I am on the Northern Neck of Virginia which is on the Chesapeake Bay. Farm fresh produce and just off the Bay seafood is in abundance. Honestly, I have been here since Friday night and it is Monday now and I have been to the produce stand three times! So glad they take bank cards as payment. The tomatoes, corn, peaches, berries…. yum! You can not OD on fresh tomatoes and corn, can you? If yes, then I will gladly go that way. I think by the end of three weeks here they will know me by name and I will know them.
Back to the eggplant okra curry. The produce stand had a quart okra and small local eggplants. How could I pass them? They needed to come home me and have me cook something. I am trying to get back on the plant positive lifestyle again so I decided to make a veggie Indian curry. Indian cuisine like many of the regions of the world is focused on veggies and fruit. As I traveled with a trunk of my spices, Dutch ovens, and other favorite cooking things, I had everything on hand to make it. The ingredient list is simple with spices you can get at your local grocery store. If you have fresh tomatoes, you can chop them up. It would take about 5 Roma or 2 big slicing tomatoes. I used my canned since I rather eat those beauties of slicing tomatoes with a little salt and pepper.
You can make it as a meal by adding naan or rice, serve it as a side for grilled chicken, or throw it in a food processor making a warm dip. Either way, it is not over powering and I have kept it mild in spiciness for those who aren’t into the heat. If you are looking for more Indian-style or vegetarian recipes, check out here.
Now go find a local produce stand and see what you came make. Since I have leftover okra, I will be trying out Thug Kitchen’s Baked Okra and Potato Hash.
Simple Eggplant Okra Curry
- 2-4 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 small onion, sliced thinly
- 1 teaspoons turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 large eggplant, chopped into 1 inch cubes
- 1 15-oz can petite diced tomatoes
- 1 lb okra, trimmed and chopped
- Kosher salt to taste
- Generous turns of the pepper grinder
- Bunch of cilantro, chopped
- In large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium to medium-low heat.
- Fry the cumin seeds until fragrant.
- Add the onion cooking until soft
- Then add turmeric, cumin, and coriander cooking for a minutes.
- Add the eggplant and okra cooking for about 15 minutes just until it begins to soften. (you may have to add more oil.)
- Add the tomatoes and cook for another 15 minutes.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Stir in cilantro.
Simple Bean Salad is a No Cook Side
Let us face it. No one regardless of how great your air conditioning is during the summer, you still hesitate turning your stove on to make something. This simple bean salad is a perfect no cook side or a nice vegetarian meal for the summer.
It is easy to make and beats anything you can buy pre-made out of a bottle or can. Sure it takes 15 to 20 minutes longer than opening a can, but it will taste a lot better and you can control the intensity of flavors.
Try some other sides and salads
- 1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 15-oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 15-oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- A few generous turns of the pepper mill
- Combine beans, celery, red onion, parsley, and rosemary in a large bowl.
- Make the dressing by whisking the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- Mix dressing throughly with the bean mixture.
- Serve chilled or at room temp.