First off, Happy Thanksgiving! Many of you will prepare some dish for the occasion, something you look forward to eating all year; yet, reserve just for this day. To what degree your family’s spread resembles that shared in Plymouth, Massachusetts may be far from your mind (just pass the stuffing already). But curiosity got the best of me when I came across a copy of The Colonial Cookbook, by Lucille Penner.

Maybe it was just the light reading I needed, because I read it cover to cover and earmarked at least 10 recipes I wanted to prepare. I have to say I had “a moment” when, having read Colonial Cookbook’s recipe for fried ham with red-eye gravy, I went to the East Village restaurant Back Forty and found it on their brunch menu–it’s for real! (Red eye gravy, by the way, is a pan gravy made with strong coffee. Definitely a unique flavor that pairs well with salty/sweet ham. I ordered it and was not disappointed).

One of those earmarked recipes happened to be apple butter. Our final CSA pick up of the year supplied us with over a dozen empire apples, which I was quick to turn into–according to my colonial reference–a special favorite of the Pennsylvania Dutch:

“Apple butter was made everywhere in the colonies….at harvest time, a huge kettle was set up over an outdoor fire. The cooking and boiling of apple butter went on until there were no more spare jugs or crocks to be found.” So, equipped with my gas stove, a pot, and empty jelly jars, I was ready to be colonial for an afternoon.

Below is Penner’s recipe for apple butter, and some step by step photos.


  • 3 cups sweet apple cider
  • 2 pounds apples (around 6)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, or mix of 1/4 tsp ground clove and 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  1. Boil the cider in a 4 qt saucepan for 15 minutes.
  2. While the cider boils, peel and core the apples; chop into small pieces.
  3. Add apple pieces to the cider. Cover and cook over low heat until tender, about 1 hour, stirring often.
  4. Remove the pot from heat. Using an immersion blender or masher, blend apples until smooth. Leave a little texture behind if you’d like. Stir in the honey and spices.
  5. Put the pot back on the heat and cook over very low heat, stirring frequently until the mixture thickens, about 30 minutes. Cool the apple butter 1-2 hours in the pan. Transfer to jars and refrigerate. Makes about 2 pints.

Also, consider making the recipe in a slow cooker.

Adding chopped apples to boiling cider

Apples cooked for an hour then blended

Apples cooked until thickened, then cooled, jarred, and spread on pumpkin bread


The Dumpling, A Seasonal Guide Several summers ago, chef Wai Hon Chu approached me to test 90+ recipes for a cookbook project with fellow chef and writer Connie Lovatt. Wai and Connie introduced me to the definition of a dumpling, “…a portion of dough, batter, or starchy plant fare, solid or filled, that is cooked through wet heat, and is not a strand or a ribbon.”

So, wet heat (literally) was what I worked through that summer, learning that sticky toffee pudding and Mexican tamales are actually dumplings! And that I’m a huge fan of dropped dumplings (a Grunt and Cocky’s Joy come out on top for flavor and funny names). And I learned that my supportive husband, then fiance, will try anything I cook; although, we’re both still suspicious of tripe.

I’ve included photos taken during the testing period of some favorites, along with several potato dumplings appropriate for this season. Check out The Dumpling’s website for info on purchasing a copy and catching one of Wai’s dumpling making workshops: The
Tied Tamale

Single-Husked Tamale Fold

Tamales Stuffed with Chicken and Tomatillo Sauce

Tamales Stuffed with Chicken and Tomatillo Sauce--Tamales de Pollo (Mexico)

Wontons with Red Chili Oil

Wontons with Red Chili Oil--Hung You Chao Shou (China)

Dumplings and Cocky's Joy_cropped

Dumplings and Cocky's Joy (Australia)

Country Cabbage Soup with Cornmeal Dumplings

Country Cabbage Soup with Large Cornmeal Dumplings--Soupe aux Miques et aux Choux (France)

Pumpkin and Lentil Ravioli with Browned Butter and Rosemary

Pumpkin and Lentil Ravioli with Browned Butter and Rosemary--Ravioli di Zucca e Lenticchie (Italy)

Potato Dumplings with Crouton Centers

Potato Dumplings with Crouton Centers--Kartoffelklosse (Germany)

Potato Dumplings with ham

Potato Dumplings Stuffed with Ham, with Ligonberry Jam--Kroppkakor (Sweden)

No-Fuss Potato Dumplings

No-Fuss Potato Dumpling with bacon and onion--Pyzy (Poland)

Big Dose of Green!

April 22, 2009

Big Green CookbookIn honor of Earth Day, I wanted to mention the release of Big Green Cookbook, by fellow RD Jackie Newgent. I spent several weeks last summer testing recipes in Jackie’s Brooklyn kitchen, and was excited to receive my signed copy last week. Congrats Jackie!

The focus here is on low-carbon, from the food sources (local, seasonal, sustainable) to the cooking methods (limited cooking times, using small appliances). So grab a recycled tote, buy from local farmers, plug in (and then unplug) your toaster oven and get cooking!

Some of my favorites made it into the book, so be sure to check out the Blueberry Crumble Bars, Autumn Black Bean Salad, and Organic Burger Bites (complete with “special sauce”). You won’t be disappointed.

Celebrate Earth Day by clicking below to purchase the book on Amazon and treat yourself to good for you-and-earth recipes.

Big Green Cookbook