Weather: 50 degrees, rain.
What I’m listening to: Heart & Mind, Kina Grannis

I am finding in life that there is not always one precise moment when we become the things we are. When I started Alaska from Scratch five years ago, I was a self-taught home cook who wasn’t sure what, if anything, she had to offer to the food world. Sure, I loved eating and cooking food, collecting ingredients and gadgets, and researching recipes. I had spent a great deal of time reading cookbooks and watching cooking shows over the years, learning things from kitchen techniques to food trends. But I honestly had very little confidence that my passion would translate across or that people might actually make my recipes in their own kitchens. It took me quite a long time, and a lot of feedback from readers, to actually feel I’d earned the right to call myself a bona fide food blogger. Then, after a couple of years and several gigs creating recipes, I eventually decided it was time to identify as a recipe developer, too. And once I was offered a weekly food column in Alaska Dispatch News, it took me probably the first whole year before I legitimately felt I could call myself a columnist. Perhaps one of the hardest titles to finally claim was the one of food photographer and food stylist, after thousands of food shots had been styled, snapped, and edited. I was none of these things five years ago. They all gradually crept up on me, caught me by surprise, and became an important part of who I am today.

At the beginning of this summer, I took a job as a cook on the dinner shift at a popular local bistro. Much like when I started my food writing career, I wasn’t sure my self-taught skills would translate across to a restaurant kitchen. My first day in the kitchen, I heard lots of clatter and noise, and felt ill-equipped to decipher the language beneath it all. But if there’s one thing I know, it’s that every kitchen has a language. I just needed to learn to speak it.  Now after months of working in a bustling bistro through the busy tourist and fishing season, I realize that I can’t really call myself a home cook anymore. I’ve become something new again. I’ve learned the language. I’ve joined the ranks of those who work in professional kitchens and who call themselves line cooks, pastry chefs, sous chefs and the like. Perhaps the best things in life are the ones we never saw coming.

Sauteed Apples in Cider

In an ode to September and fall colors, I’ve made some of Bobby Flay’s sautéed cider apples from his cookbook “Brunch at Bobby’s.” Tart Granny Smith apples, simmered in apple cider spiced with cinnamon sticks, until they are tender and glazed in a syrupy, buttery sauce. Bobby recommends these over Belgian waffles, but they would also be good on pancakes or over ice cream. For a more savory preparation, try them with pork chops or a pork tenderloin.

Sauteed Cider Apples

Sauteed cider apples

Tart Granny Smith apples simmered in spiced cider and butter. Excellent over pancakes or waffles, ice cream, or pork. Recipe adapted from Brunch at Bobby’s by Bobby Flay.

  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled (optional), cored and sliced

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, stir together the apple cider, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Bring the mixture to a boil, cooking about 10 minutes, or until the cider becomes syrupy and has reduced. Add the butter and apples to the pan, reduce heat to medium, and cook another 5-10 minutes until the apples are just tender and the mixture begins to caramelize. Serve hot over waffles, pancakes, ice cream, or pork.

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