Hearth & Home

Hearth and Home by Daphne Ross

A True Comfort Season Is Upon Us

As the hints of an Ohio autumn begin to appear more frequently, I can't help but smile; I love all of what autumn has to offer. Don't get me wrong I love summer, and I love spring, but we are coming upon a season of great qualities.

In summer, I might wear a single shirt, but I like wearing layers, and fall is the perfect time for my closet to get out of the closet. Hoodies, jackets, sweaters, scarves, and fall boots, I look forward to every morning standing in my recently transitioned closet. No problem with nothing to wear, it's what to wear.

A few days ago after a treasure hunting trip into Holmes County I came home, dragged a couple old comforters out to the rope hammock, and I took a nap. It was a perfect mix of shade and sun, an ever so light cool breeze was constant, and my favorite orange cat curled up underneath, I drifted off to a soft kitty purr.

From the old trunk coffee table I have pulled out larger and heavier knotted comforters, aired them out over the deck railing, and folded them to hang over our recliners and sofa. Now we are ready for those chilly evenings, yes keeping one window cracked for that fresh outside air; a new magazine, the newspaper, and the TV remote, probably clutched in his cat napping grasp.

The colors of fall are rich and awesome. They are bright, and they are dark. We see the pallet of God's most colorful season painted all across the horizon. The sky is a priceless work of art, the trees are a lesson in technique, the landscape is a blessing on a natural canvas. This beauty is not for sale it is a free-for-all.

Topping the charts when it comes to this color-changing season is the menu; supper in the oven is prepared more often, soups simmer all day on the back burner, stews and roasts slow cook in the Crock-Pot, breads and muffins bake until the dinner bell rings. And sweet desserts are baked in larger 9 x 13's than 8 x 8's; it's just a fact of fall life.

Pantry items change on the grocery lists; stock up on crackers, salty for soup and sweet for S'mores. While I like to make homemade soup, I stock up on a large variety of condensed soups; a quick can of heat-n-eat soup can sure hit the, I need it right now spot.

Fill your baking cupboard with the essential baking ingredients; flour, sugars, cocoa, shortening, oil, cornmeal, oatmeal, baking chips, vanilla, nuts, baking soda & powder, salt, and yeast. This time of year the best way to warm up the kitchen is to bake; and bake often. It is a true comfort of fall.

Calling all kids! Calling all kids! Send your favorite recipes for oven-baked treats to: Hearth & Home, 5973 Blachleyville Rd., Wooster, OH, 44691. Emails are always welcome: thewritecook@sssnet.com

Apple Cider Pork Tenderloin
2 (1 pound) pork tenderloins cut in 1/2 crosswise
Vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups apple cider
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup

Pat pork tenderloins dry, brush with oil, and season well with salt and pepper. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 pieces of pork tenderloin and cook about 4 minutes until brown on all sides turn occasionally. Set pork aside on a baking sheet and repeat with remaining pieces. Place pork in the upper third of a 500 degree oven and cook until thermometer inserted in the middle of the tenderloin registers 150 degrees, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, place pan over high heat, add cider and vinegar and stir, scraping up any browned bits. Cook until mixture is reduced by 2/3. Reduce heat to medium, stir in maple syrup and remove from heat until pork is cooked. When pork is ready, remove to a cutting board to rest about 5 minutes. Warm sauce over medium-high heat; add pork and any accumulated juices and spoon sauce over meat to completely coat. When pork is warm, return pork to cutting board and slice thinly. Serve with pan sauce spooned over.

Apple Cider Chicken
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced into 1/4-inch wedges
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups apple cider

Heat oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, add to pan and sear until golden, about 4 minutes each side. Remove chicken from pan, and set aside. Add remaining butter and onion, apple, garlic, thyme and bay leaves. Sauté until apple begins to get color and onions soften, about 6 minutes. Add flour and stir 3 minutes. Place chicken back into pan, add cider, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook 12 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

Apple Cider Snickerdoodles
1 1/4 cups apple cider
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus 3 tablespoons for rolling
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped red and green crispy apple chips
2 teaspoons apple pie spice
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat the cider in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. Continue to cook 12 minutes until syrupy and reduced to about 2 tablespoons; set aside to cool slightly. Whisk the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Beat the butter with 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar and the brown sugar in a separate bowl on medium-high speed until fluffy and smooth, 3 minutes. Beat in the reduced cider and the egg (the mixture may look slightly curdled). Stir in the flour mixture and 1/4 cup of the chopped apple chips until combined. Stir together the remaining 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons of chopped apple chips and the apple pie spice in a small bowl. Roll heaping tablespoons of dough into balls, using lightly moistened hands if the dough is too sticky, and then roll in the spiced sugar mixture. Place the dough balls 3 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets and top with a few pieces of whole apple chips. Bake 11 minutes until the edges are just set but centers are still soft. Cool 3 minutes on the baking sheet, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Green Beans with Apple Cider
2 (16-ounce) bags whole frozen green beans
Olive oil
1 small yellow skinned onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup apple cider
Salt and pepper
Put the beans in a large microwave safe bowl, loosely cover bowl with plastic wrap and microwave on high 5 minutes. Uncover and stir the beans, then cover and microwave on high 4 to 7 minutes more, until desired doneness, from still-crisp to tender, but with a bite. Heat a small skillet over medium low heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and the onions and cook until beginning to caramelize, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the cider, raise the heat to medium high and cook until liquid is reduced and syrupy, about 5 minutes. Remove the beans from microwave. Season the beans with salt and pepper, to taste, and add to the pan with the onions and cider. Toss evenly to coat the beans and keep warm until ready to serve.

Smoky Cider Chicken
Olive oil, for drizzling
8 ounces bacon, sliced
10 bone-in chicken parts
Salt and pepper
2 onions, peeled and cut into wedges
4 carrots, peeled, sliced on an angle 1/2-inch thick
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups apple cider
About 1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cups chicken stock
1 pound small Yukon gold potatoes, quartered
2 Golden Delicious apples, quartered, cored and sliced
Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the bacon, brown, and then remove with a slotted spoon. Season the chicken pieces liberally with salt and pepper, then brown in 2 batches on both sides, and remove to plate. Add the onions, carrots, thyme, and bay leaves, and season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan and sweat the vegetables 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the flour and stir 1 to 2 minutes, then add the cider, syrup, vinegar, and 1 cup stock, stirring between each addition. Slide in the potatoes, and apples, and sprinkle the bacon over the top. Nest the chicken into the pan and add more stock until the liquids reach the edge, but do not cover the chicken. Cover the pan, reduce the heat, and cook the chicken through, 15 minutes or so. Cool completely, and store for a make-ahead meal. Reheat in a 325 degree oven or on the stovetop over medium heat, covered until warmed through. Once hot, serve immediately. Remove the cooked chicken to a serving platter or shallow bowls, stir to thicken and combine the sauce and vegetables, and spoon over and around the chicken.

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