Real Food

Savor the flavors of everyday real food, fresh from the garden or stored on your pantry shelves.

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As I was racking my brain trying to think of a way to use all these blueberries as I was sipping my homemade blueberry milk, I thought for a moment, said “Huzzah!” and I got to work on this recipe.  It has a tinge of extra sweetness, and its coloring is quite unique.

Baking Supplies

• 1 standard 8-1/2 inch x 4-1/2 inch loaf pan
• 1 large mixing bowl
• 1 wooden spoon


• 3 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup blueberry milk
• 1/2 cup warm water
• 4 tablespoons melted butter
• 3 tablespoons agave nectar
• 1-1/4 teaspoon salt
• 2-1/4 teaspoon (1 packet) yeast


1. Combine all of the ingredients into a large mixing bowl, and stir until there are no dry spots visible.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap of a towel and let it sit for about an hour.

2. After it has risen, remove the dough and place it in the greased loaf pan. Cover and let it rise for another hour.

3. Preheat oven at 350 degrees.  Once the loaf has successfully risen, place it in the oven for 35 minutes.

4. When time is up, remove the pan from the oven and the loaf from the pan.  You will know it’s done by tapping the bottom of the loaf and hearing a hollow sound.

5. Place loaf on cooling rack for approximately ten minutes. Note: The baking process is not complete until the cooling process has been completed.

6. Enjoy.


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I recently made this slow cooker applesauce in my second grade classroom, and oh how the children loved it. It made our entire classroom smell cinnamon-y sweet. I love making festive autumn treats during this glorious time of year. Fall has long been my favorite season, and I relish any opportunity to make comforting harvest dishes. Try this simple, yet decadent applesauce as a side, or even a dessert at your dinner table this autumn.


10 apples, cored and sliced (with or without peels)*
1/2 - 3/4 cup brown sugar*
1 tbsp cinnamon*
1/2 cup apple juice, plus 1/4 cup*
1/2 tsp salt
*homegrown/organic ingredients recommended

Pour 1/2 cup apple juice into the base of a slow cooker. Sprinkle brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt over apples. Pour 1/4 cup of apple juice over the apples to help dissolve the dry ingredients. Set slow cooker on high, and allow apples to cook down over a period of about four-five hours. Stir occasionally. Mashing may be required and can be done with a fork or potato masher.

Students in my class enjoy this applesauce with crushed pecans stirred in. If you are not making this recipe for a large group, excess can easily be canned in pint jars. Simply use a water-bath canner and process for 15 minutes. Learn more about Applesauce Canning.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.


coffee cakeThis is delicious and fragrant comfort food if there ever was any. I’ve been making this for many years, and the smell is just heavenly. How heavenly? A number of years ago I was awaiting delivery of something, can’t remember what now, but what I do remember is the reaction. Two men and the truck arrived in the driveway, whereupon they got out and came to the door. When I answered, the driver said, “I don’t know what you’re making, but the smell outside is just incredible!!!” I was a bit shocked, not realizing my wonderful aromas had carried that far. This cake is not for those counting calories, as it contains fair amounts of sour cream, butter, brown sugar and eggs, but the result is well worth it. Plus, you can always freeze it.

The original recipe comes out of the first cookbook I ever bought when I was first married, so don’t laugh: Betty Crocker’s Cookbook. That was some time ago now, but over the years, it has maintained its comfort food status. Probably a number of you can find this recipe in your own collections, as I’m sure it’s been kept through the ages. A good cup of tea, and you’re living! So, thanks to Betty, here’s the recipe:


1-1/2 cups sugar*
3/4 cups margarine or butter**
3 eggs
1-1/2 tsp vanilla***
3 cups all purpose or whole wheat flour, I used all purpose
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups sour cream

Filling, mix:

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup finely chopped nuts (I use pecans, but walnuts will work very well too)
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon.


Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease tube pan 10-inch-by-4-inch or 12 cup Bundt pan, (I usually use the tube pan). or 2 loaf pans, 9-by-5-by-3-inch. Beat sugar, margarine/butter, eggs, and vanilla in large mixer bowl on medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally, 2 minutes. Beat in flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt alternatively with sour cream on low speed. Prepare filling.

For tube or Bundt pans, spread 1/3 of the batter (about 2 cups) in pan and sprinkle with 1/3 of the filling (about 6 tbsp); repeat 2 times. For loaves, spread 1/4 of the batter (about 1-1/2 cups) in each pan and sprinkle each with 1/4 of the filling (about 5 tbsp); repeat.

Bake until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean, about 1 hour (note: this could be less, so keep an eye on it). Cool slightly; remove from pan(s). Cool 10 minutes. Yield 12 to 14 servings.

*The last time I made this cake, about a month ago, I cut the sugar down to 1 cup with no appreciable difference in quality.

**I really urge you to use real butter here for the flavor.

***Please use pure vanilla extract here: The flavor difference is amazing. An older bottle of the fake stuff will smell, of all things, like flowers or perfume. Don’t think you want that.

 You can follow the further adventures of Sue for info on food, travel and shopping in eastern Ontario among other spots. She'd love it if you came for a visit!

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.


Here is a simple recipe that provides a sweet, cool treat and helps clear out some space when the turf war between fresh blueberries pick last month and applesauce from yesterday gets heated in the freezer.

the milk


2 quart saucepan
hand-held strainer
small mixing bowl


1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup water
2 cups milk

Combine blueberries, sugar, and water into the saucepan. Heat on medium-high until mixture boils.  Lower heat to medium-low, and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

When mixture thickens, remove from heat and strain into mixing bowl. Allow to cool, then refrigerate. Use ¼ cup of syrup with 1 cup of milk.



Our Farmhouse Decorated With PumpkinsI absolutely love autumn, especially where we live in rural Ontario. The bugs are gone, the weather is neither too hot nor too cold, the leaves are brilliant in color and pumpkins are ready! I enjoy growing a variety of pumpkins and squash for their eye catching beauty and delicious flavors. One recipe I make a lot of and has proven to be popular seller at our farm is my Pumpkin Maple Butter. Most customers purchase it to spread on toast or scones, but recently I was told by one customer that they use it as a glaze on salmon. Sounds wonderful! I enjoy making this preserve as it is something that does not require your immediate attention to ‘can’ down. Pumpkins picked fresh from the garden store very well in a cool, dry pantry until January or later. That way you can make this preserve when time permits. I would like to share my recipe with readers.

Cooking Pumpkin For Preserving

Irish Hills Farm Pumpkin-Maple Butter


2-1/2 pounds organic pumpkin, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp salt
brown sugar

InstructionsCanned Pumpkin Maple Butter

Put the pumpkin in a pan with 2 cups of water and cook approximately 30 minutes until tender. Drain. Mash the pumpkin or use a food processor or blender to make into a puree. Stir maple syrup and spices into the pumpkin puree.  Measure all the puree into a large pan, adding 1 cup of brown sugar for each 2-1/2 cups of puree. Gently heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat and boil for 10 to 20 minutes until the mixture forms a thick puree that holds its shape when spooned on to a cold plate. Note: The United States Dept. of Agriculture recommends that pumpkin purees and butters should be frozen, not canned. For more information, visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation's information page on canning pumpkin and squash at

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.


ginko nutsYou can smell ginkgo fruit long before you arrive at the tree, and it’s not a pleasant experience. But once you get rid of the stinky orange pulp, there is a culinary jewel waiting in the “nut” inside.

Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) is a fascinating tree. Apparently it is a living fossil that evolved before there were flowering plants. Ginkgo’s fan-shaped leaves with veins running all the way to the edges of each leaf are unique among trees. In autumn they turn bright yellow before falling. The leaves are the part of the tree used to produce the memory-enhancing tinctures you can buy at the health food store. These trees are disease and insect resistant and can be extremely long-lived. There are ginkgo trees in China that are close to 2,500 years old! They are also pollution-tolerant, which is one reason so many ginkgos have been planted as street trees in cities.

There is a catch, though: there are both male and female ginkgo trees, and only the males were intended to planted used as street trees (they don’t produce the smelly fruits). But when they aren’t fruiting, the male and female trees are difficult to tell apart, and numerous fruiting female ginkgos found their way to our streets and parks. That’s good news for urban and suburban foragers. The orange fruits, about the size of a ping pong ball, ripen and fall to the ground in the fall. Inside the smelly pulp is a thin-shelled kernel about 3/4-inch long that is easily cracked. And inside that there is a pistachio-green “nut” that is delicious once roasted.

The roasting part is not optional — raw ginkgo nuts are not edible. See the directions below for how to roast ginkgo nuts. I should mention that scientifically ginkgo nuts are not really nuts and ginkgo fruits are not really fruits. Somehow roasted gametophytes doesn’t sound as tasty as roasted ginkgo nuts, so I’m going to stick with the commonly used culinary name and ignore the scientific jargon. Ginkgo is a popular food in Asian communities where people often “field dress” — clean on the spot — the nuts. You’ll know that’s what happened when you find a heap of the smelly pulp at the base of a ginkgo tree and all the nuts are gone. Then again, you don’t have to be in an Asian community for that to happen. It also occurs if I got there before you did.

Autumn and early winter storms can be a boon to ginkgo collectors. The smelly pulp gets washed off of fruits that had already fallen to the ground, sparing foragers from the messiest part of the harvest. Some people get a rash from the juices of the pulp. Just to be on the safe side, wear gloves or cover your hands with plastic bags when collecting ginkgo. What do ginkgo nuts taste like? Sort of like a cross between walnuts and a barely pungent cheese such as brie.

How to Roast Ginkgo Nuts
Reminder: this is not optional. Raw ginkgo nuts are not edible. Wash off any pulp clinging to the shells. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 300-degree-Fahrenheit oven for 30 minutes.

Tamari Ginkgo Snack

Toss already roasted (see instructions above), shelled ginkgo nuts with a little tamari or soy sauce. Bake in a 325-degree oven for 5 minutes or just until the tamari coating dries on the nuts. Really good with a pint of homebrew.

Ginkgo “Cheese” Spread
Puree roasted, shelled ginkgo nuts in a food processor with just enough extra-virgin olive oil to make a smooth paste. Mix in salt to taste.

Preserving Roasted Ginkgo Nuts
The best way to preserve ginkgo nuts is to store them, roasted but unshelled, in tightly sealed containers in the freezer.

Leda Meredith is the author of Northeast Foraging: 120 Wild and Flavorful Edibles from Beach Plums to Wineberries. You can watch her foraging and food preservation videos, and follow her Leda's Urban Homestead. Her latest book is Preserving Everything: Can, Culture, Pickle, Freeze, Ferment, Dehydrate, Salt, Smoke...and More.



Fall is in the air, and I have been busy making lots of yummy autumn treats. One of my favorites is this delicious Crockpot Candied Cider. Delicious cinnamon candy melts into the juice adding a delightful sweetness to this hot beverage. The aroma it lends to your home is a pleasure in itself. Enjoy this treat on a brisk fall evening and enjoy its comforting warmness.

Crockpot Candied Cider Recipe


1 cup organic Cinnamon spice candy (like Pure Fun Organic Cinnamon Spice Jaw Boulders)
64 ounces organic apple juice or cider

Simply spread cinnamon spice candy around the base of a crock pot. Pour apple juice or cider over the candy. Turn the crock pot on low and give it a stir. Continue stirring every 30 minutes until candies are completely melted. This process should take a couple of hours.

Candied cider is great for a fall gathering and makes several servings. If you wish to share with a smaller group, it can easily be halved. Enjoy this sweet taste of autumn. Cheers!

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