Showing posts with label apple. Show all posts
Showing posts with label apple. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Why I Farm: Downing Fuit Farm

What is the name of your farm? Does that have any special significance?
Downing Fruit Farm and has been since it opened 176 years ago 

Where is your farm?
New Madison, Ohio

Tell me about your farm.
Downing Fruit Farm has been open and running for the past 176 years. The father and daughters that I spoke to are the 7th and 8th generations of the farm and want to pass on the tradition/family business for years to come.

What do you grow or produce?
Apples, Apple Cider, Apple Butter, Honey, Green Beans, Peppers, Tomatoes, Squash, and other produce items.

Do you produce food year round?
Yes, but the majority of business is done between Labor Day and Halloween with the apple sales and production. 

Have you always been a farmer?

What do you wish more folks knew about farming in general?
How labor intensive the business actually is, especially for fruit farmers. Contrary to grain farming, the fruit farm business is time sensitive and the product must be harvested and sold right away, because it is perishable. This means that the sales need to take place quickly, and be profitable enough to last throughout the year. 

What do you wish more people know about your farm, specifically?
We grow over 75 varieties of apples, and all of the fruits and vegetables are hand picked. This is very labor intensive.

What are your future plans for your farm?
In the future, Downing Fruit Farm is getting many new trees. The new trees are shorter and wider, making it easier to harvest the fruit more quickly.

Where can people buy your products?
Oxford Farmer’s Market
Miami University
Moon Co-Op
Local Grocery Stores

Please connect with the Downing Fruit Farm on Facebook!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Snack Attack: Baked apple chips

Let's face it - chips are pretty stinking delicious. Unfortunately, most chips aren't doing our health a lot of favors. Here is a sweet little snack that is both tasty and good for you.

Slicing the apples can be done with a sharp knife and a steady hand - or, you can use a mandoline. A mandoline is a handy kitchen tool that creates very even, thin slices. They range from basic to deluxe and are priced accordingly. Look for one that is easily washable and has the features you're seeking - basic slicing is sufficient for your cooking needs, or are you going to use crinkle cuts and dicing?

For the apple chips, simply rinse off the apples and slice quite thinly. You can dunk them in a solution of water and lemon juice if you wish - this will slow browning. Place them onto a cookie sheet (I lined mine with parchment paper), sprinkle with ground cinnamon and bake in a 225 for an hour and then flip the apple slices. Bake for another hour or so. They won't be completely crispy until they've cooled.

Not crispy enough? Pop 'em back in the oven! Exact times depends on how thick or thin the slices are and the apple variety, as well as your personal preference - some folks like them to be more leathery and others prefer a crisp chip. You're the boss!

 Reader poll: What is your favorite healthy snack?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Guest post: Homemade applesauce

I am please to round out my week of apple goodness with a lovely guest post from my good friend Sarah Waybright, friend and fellow dietitian and founder of WhyFoodWorks. We met while working on the Kids Eat Right campaign. Sarah did her Master of Science (MS) in Human Nutrition at Drexel University, and her dietetic internship through Utah State University’s distance program to become a Registered Dietitian (RD).  She grew up on a dairy farm in Pennsylvania, does pottery as a hobby, and loves to do yoga and kickboxing to stay active. 


After working all last season for a farmer friend at the Columbia Heights market in DC, I had MORE than my fair share of access to apples.  One afternoon, when I wanted to make a cake and substitute applesauce for the oil (a great trick; it makes your cake moist while reducing fat and adding fiber!), I found myself with apples, apples, everywhere and not a drop of sauce.  So I whipped up a quick batch!

Check it out, these are from Rice orchards - I grew up with the Rices in Gettysburg, so I know for a fact that these apples are both local and delicious :)
As I outlined in my original blog post, the benefits of making your own are higher fiber content, using up older or spotty apples, no added sugar, and above all else, improved taste.  Vastly improved.  And it's really, really not hard.  If you can boil water you can make applesauce.  But in my original recipe, I had to use a blender since I only chopped the unpeeled apples into cubes...which means another kitchen gadget to clean.  No me gusta.  And you definitely want to leave the peels on - that's what ups the fiber content, and a lot of vitamins and minerals are more closely concentrated near the skins of fruit.

Enter a simple mandolin.  I got mine for $10, but you can go as fancy as you like here, and even pay over $100.  If you want.  But I'm here to tell you that the one I have works just fine for my purposes; it comes with a few julienne attachments, which make the pieces of skin so small you won't have to worry about pureeing the sauce after it's cooked.  A box grater would work here, too.

That was a whole apple down in less than a minute, if you were paying attention.  And you NEED to pay attention when you use a grater or mandolin, because your fingers will pay the price if you don't.

It's your turn!  Try it and let us know what your favorite flavor combo is.  Besides substituting for oil in baked goods, applesauce is also delicious for breakfast mixed with some plain greek yogurt, heated over vanilla ice cream as a dessert, or even frozen as a summer popsicle.

2c water
6-7 apples, preferably Nittany, York, or Braeburn (or any crisp, flavorful variety)
Cinnamon, cloves, ginger, allspice, nutmeg 

Bring the water to a boil in a large pan, and use a mandolin with a julienne attachment (or a box grater) to grate the apples.  Add to boiling water, reduce to simmer.  Cook for 10-15 minutes, then mash with a potato masher or fork, and season with a dash of any or all of the spices listed to taste.
Thanks for posting, Sarah! 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Simple snacks: Apple granola sandwich

I love apples. I love peanut butter. And who doesn't love chocolate? Here is a delicious hearty snack that satisfies that sweet tooth while still being healthy. Only a few minutes and an apple corer are between you and this treat!

An apple corer is a simple little kitchen tool that looked like an over-sized peeler. You use it to cut out the core from a whole apple and then can slice the apple into rounds. This is also helpful for making other apple dishes like apple chips or stewed apples.

Apple Granola Sandwich
  • 1 firm apple
  • 1-2 tablespoons peanut butter (or almond butter)
  • 1 tablespoon chocolate granola
  1. Use apple corer to remove core from your apple. Watch your fingers! 
  2. Spread a thin layer of peanut or almond butter on each half of your sandwich. My apple made three sandwiches.
  3. Sprinkle granola on peanut butter and press the two halves to make your sandwich!
Note: if you don't have an apple corer, you can slice your apple into rounds and use a small cookie cutter to remove core, or a paring knife. 

Gather your ingredients
Core the apple
Assemble the sandwiches
Dig in!
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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Splendid Salads: Chopped apple salad

This is a simple little salad that my mom and dad had at a bed and breakfast years ago and remains one of my mom's favorites!

  • 2 chopped apples
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries (or raisins)
  • 1/4 cup chopped raw pecans
  • Juice from one orange
  • Juice from one lime
  • Drizzle of honey
  • Optional: grated fresh ginger
  1. Chop apples and place in bowl. 
  2. Add everything else and toss to coat. 
Notes: The citrus juice prevents browning. If you're not going to serve right away, leave out the pecans until the last minute to prevent them from getting mushy. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sweet treats: Apple Cake with ginger

Here is a lovely little sweet treat that isn't going to pack on the guilt - it is high in sugar, but skips the frosting or glaze and is low in fat. Even dietitians like an indulgence sometimes!

What kind of apple? Some apples do better in the oven than others. I remember the first time I heard the term "a good eating apple". What else are you supposed to do with apples, I wondered? This distinction dates back to when people participated in the production of their own food and grew many varieties of produce. With apples, they would grow some that would make good cider and apple sauce and some that stored well over the winter in their cellar. Some are best raw, "a good eating apple" and some are better cooked.

For baking, use apples that are firm and tart - I like Granny Smith, Winesap, Jonagolds and Gala. For best results, choose more than one variety and the mixture of flavors will be great. 

Apple Cake
  • 2 cups chopped apples (no need to peel)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup chopped candied ginger (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease or spray a 8 or 9 inch square pan and set aside.
  2. Mix chopped apples and sugar and let sit for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, beat egg well. Once apples are ready (there will be a lot more liquid - the sugar draws it out!), add all other ingredients to the egg bowl and mix. The batter will be very thick. 
  4. Spread batter into prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Ready for the oven!
Ready to eat! Yummy

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Scrumptious Soups: Apple pumpkin soup

Pumpkin soup is hitting the spot! I love having a warm bowl with lunch or dinner (or both). This recipe makes a pretty large pot of soup - which is perfect if you're feeding a crowd or plan to pop some in the freezer. If not, it is simple to cut in half.

Apple Pumpkin Soup

  • 8-10 pounds of raw pumpkin (or 4 cans of pumpkin puree - not pie filling)
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 3-4 medium apples, chopped (no need to peel)
  • 7-8 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup plain yogurt, milk or half and half
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Using a sharp chefs knife, cut pumpkin open into large wedges. Use an ice-cream scoop to scoop out seeds and stringy bits. Place onto cookie sheet and roast until very tender and starting to brown on the edges. 
  3. While pumpkin is cooking, chop apples and onions. Preheat large saucepan over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Once pan is warm, add apples, onions and garlic and saute for 8-10 minutes or until tender.
  4. Scoop pumpkin from skin using a spoon into soup pot (or add cans of pumpkin). Add stock, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper and bring to a simmer.
  5. Using an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth. Add apple cider vineger, one tablespoon at a time, until you like the balance between the acid and the sweetness of the apples. Stir in milk or cream.
  6. To serve, garnish with a thin slice of apple and a swirl of cream.


Reader Poll: Have you ever cooked with a fresh pumpkin before? What did you make?

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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Splendid Salads: Roasted Squash and Apple Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette

This salad really is special. Inspired by an Ina Garten recipe (the Barefoot Contessa). It is the best of autumn flavors in a hearty and filling salad. The peppery bite of the arugula paired with the sweetness of the roasted squash and fruit, the warm vinaigrette and squash with the cool fruit and greens. I just love it and hope you'll try it too! The original recipe called for maple syrup and shallots, both of which are pretty pricey. I made the substitute of onions and brown sugar for similar flavor but a lower impact on the grocery bill. The original recipe called for butternut squash, but since I have pumpkin at home, that is what I used. Use what you have or what you love!

Tip for the winter squash: don't bother peeling; it is a pain in the rear unless you have an epically sharp peeler and a lot of patience. Simply slice or cube, roast and when fully cooked (and cool enough to handle) the skin will come right off.
Roasted Squash and Apple Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette
Serves 4
  • 1 (1 1/2-pound) winter squash (pumpkin, butternut squash, acorn squash), roasted
  • 1 tablespoon  brown sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 apples (or pears), diced
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (or golden raisins)
  • 3/4 cup apple juice (or apple cider)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons onion, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 ounces baby arugula, washed and spun dry
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place the winter squash on a sheet pan. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the brown sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss. Roast the squash for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until tender.
  3. While the squash is roasting, combine the apple cider, vinegar, and onion in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the cider is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Off the heat, whisk in the mustard,  olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.
  4. Place the arugula in a large salad bowl and add the roasted squash mixture, the chopped apples, raisins and the grated Parmesan. Spoon just enough vinaigrette over the salad to moisten and toss well. Serve immediately. 

    Pumpkin ready for the oven!
    Apple juice and onion reducing for excellent flavor; just waiting on olive oil and dijon mustard

    Almost ready and so delicious

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Breakfast of Champions: Super Oatmeal

Oatmeal has a well deserved reputation of being a healthy breakfast. With the soluble fiber contributing to heart health and the whole grains keeping you satisfied, it is no wonder that people feel like they've gotten off to a good start when their breakfast bowl has oatmeal.

Since I like to tweak recipes to make them healthier and better, I have created a "super oatmeal" that is healthy and satisfying. 1/4 cup of oats may not seem like a lot, but when it is bulked up with fruit and nut butter, it is plenty!

Super Oatmeal

1/4 cup quick oats (cooks in 5 minutes)
1/2 cup water
1 medium apple, chopped
1 Tablespoon nut butter (almond, peanut, per your preference)
1 Tablespoon ground flax seed
1 cup low-fat milk or soy milk
Cinnamon powder and vanilla extract to flavor

1. Chop the apples and add to 1/2 cup of water in a small sauce pan. Cover, and bring to a boil.
2. Stir in the oats, cinnamon and vanilla and lower the heat to a simmer. Set the timer for 5 minutes and stir occasionally.
3. At the end of cooking, stir in the spoonful of nut butter and the flax seeds. Plop the thick cereal into a bowl and surround with your favorite milk. I like my oatmeal pretty thick, so I like this "island" approach with the cereal surrounded by the milk. If you prefer thinner oatmeal, you can either make with more water or stir in the milk. You choose!

This recipe is easily doubled or tripled to feed more hungry folks.

Interestingly, this oatmeal is actually good reheated. You can make enough for several breakfasts, reheat the single portion in the microwave and pour your milk in afterwards.

The flax seeds offer many benefits beyond their delicious nutty flavor. When ground up, the seeds offer fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. The typical American diet is pretty low in omega-3 fatty acids and so we should embrace any opportunity to have more in our daily lives. Just make sure to grind the seeds before eating to have access to these benefits; our body cannot brake through the seed coat. Sprinkle on our foods and your body will thank you!

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