spices/sugars

Apple Butter

apple-butter

A few weeks ago I read a book about a family that lived on an apple farm and needless to say after I finished it all I could think about it was all kinds of apple treats. So this past weekend I went and bought an assortment of apples so that I could get started. I made an apple cake the other day, which was finished pretty fast, but really the only thing I have had on my mind is apple butter. Apple Butter is a pretty traditional Southern treat that dates back to colonial days. Ladies spend all Fall making and canning for the upcoming year. I would love waking up in the mornings growing up to a plate of fresh hot buttermilk biscuits and a jar of my mommas apple butter.

In the South we always just eat apple butter with biscuits, but we also use it as stuffing inside little hand held apple pies as well. If you have never had the pleasure or trying apple butter it is thick and concentrated kind of like apple sauce yet with a more butter consistency. Back in the day apple butter was prepared in large copper kettles outside. Large paddles were used to stir the apples, and family members would take turns stirring.

I am always really proud of myself when I make something just like my momma used to. Most of you probably think I grew up cooking Southern food with my family, but the truth is that I never even cooked before I got married. So I actually learned how to cook Arabic food way before my own. I am still learning and getting to know how to cook proper Southern food.

2 green apples, peeled and cored
2 red apples, peeled and cored
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1-1/3 cup apple juice

1. In a saucepan on medium heat orange juice and slice apples into pan. Add vanilla, cinnamon and allspice, stir. Add sugar and apple juice. Cover, reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.

2. With a hand held mixer, blend apples in the pan to get a thick consistency. Serve!

Yields: 1-1/2 cups

Chinese Tea Eggs

chinese-tea-eggs

A few years back when my family and I visited Malaysia we stayed near the popular China Town. Malaysia has a rich culture and also is home to many others such as a large Chinese community. It was really interesting to get to learn so much about so many things at one time and that is why Malaysia will always be one of my favorite places to go. One day while we were about to board the metro I noticed a Chinese lady selling something that I had never seen. It was dark brown liquid filled with beautiful marbled eggs. Come to find out they were Chinese Tea eggs.

The liquid is a mixture of soy sauce, black tea and spices. The eggs are boiled, cracked and soaked in the mixture and when you peel them they are just gorgeous. Maybe you’re already thinking yuck tea eggs! Well, I had never had eggs myself for anything other than breakfast before moving to Saudi. And as you all have noticed on my blogs boiled eggs are served with the dishes here such as kabsa, and they go perfect together. Eggs are used a lot in Asian cooking as well. When we were in Indonesia I was quickly taught that they add a fried egg on top of almost everything and I loved it.

These tea eggs are perfect with some Chinese roasted chicken and rice. Over the years I have realized that you cannot write off a new food because you have never tried it. We miss lots of great opportunities in life that way. As they say you should at least try it once. If I had never tried anything at least once then this site probably would not even be here. Try the tea eggs, they are fabulous.

4 eggs
3 teaspoons black tea
1-1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
1/2 teaspoon sugar

1. In a saucepan add eggs and 1 teaspoon salt; cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, and cool. When cool, tap eggs with the back of a spoon to crack shells (do not remove shells) and use a needle to poke several times to help marinade the inside.

2. Drain eggs ans soak in cold water. Meanwhile, make the tea mixture. In a small saucepan add enough water to cover eggs (about 3-4 cups), bring to a boil then reduce to simmer. Add tea, sugar, soy, cinnamon and anise and allow to steep for 10 minutes.

2. In a bowl add tea mixture, spices and carefully placed boiled eggs. Cover and allow to marinade for a few hours then over bowl and place in the refrigerator over night.

Yields: 2 servings

Homemade Vanilla Coffee Syrup

homemade-vanilla-coffee-syrup-with-vanilla-beans

Back in the day when I first started drinking coffee I would always order one with vanilla or a mocha because I really did not understand what everything else was. I have since abandoned those drinks and moved on to bigger and better ones or so I thought. Until yesterday morning when my husband brought me a vanilla cappuccino home from the shop . I fell in love with an old friend once again and wondered why I had ever stopped drinking it to begin with. Well, you all know me so I had to get in the kitchen and make my own so I can enjoy these.

One of my favorite things about all of these homemade coffee syrups is that they are natural. That being said you will want to use a real vanilla pod with this recipe. I know it does not make the prettiest picture and all that stuff does not look appetizing but real vanilla is like liquid gold and if you get rid of it you’re just crazy. Opening a pod is simple you just carefully make a slit from the top to the bottom and then I always use a chopstick to pull out the stuff from inside. The more of the beans and pod equals more of a taste and that is why you should keep both in your syrup. Regardless of what flavor you make you will always want to give it a light shake before using. And there you have it friends this is what real vanilla syrup looks like.

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1 vanilla bean

1. In a small saucepan on high heat add water, sugar and vanilla. Carefully whisk to dissolve sugar. Bring to a full boil then reduce to low and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.

2. Allow to cool then pour into a jar, cover and refrigerate.