Thursday, October 29, 2020

Time to Make the Donuts.

Dear Diary, This is month ten of Jumanji.  Just as the Covid monster seemed to be going into hiding, it suddenly reared its massive head.  It tricked us, just as we were beginning to have fun, and life was going back to normal, once again.  What the worst of it is, having the children home, and they are missing out on all the fun.  What will November bring?  Signed, Feeling Doomed.

Dear Feeling Doomed, stop complaining!  You and your family have each other.  That’s more than many others, in this overpopulated world, have.  Would you rather the outbreak of much deadlier diseases, so you can lose each other?  Your children are home, and not having fun; well why is that?  This is the time that family should come together, not just to “make time”, but now having the time to do fun things…together!  Signed, Diary.

Wow, even someone’s diary is getting tired of all the “whoa-is-me” going round.  Yes, it has been ten months of Covid-19 turning our lives upside down.  It has also been ten months of political, civil, and social unrest as well.  However, this is where choice comes into play; the choice of “Will I allow it to deflate and destroy me?”, or “Will I stand tall, grab that negativity bull by its fiery horns, and ride it down into the ground?”

One of my favorite televised series is Good Witch, a Hallmark original that is about to air its seventh season.  Previously, there were yearly movies about main character, Cassie Nightingale, a descendant of the Merriwick clan.  This is what many would call, a “clean, goody two shoes” show, as there is no blood, gore, foul language, or really nasty stuff that would make one cover the eyes and ears at the same time.  This is, however, one of those shows that tugs at heart strings, makes one feel all lovey and comforting inside, and teaches many, many lessons.

Cassie Nightingale has traveled the world, and believes in, and practices, holistic “medicine”.  Natural remedies using plants, essential oils, crystals; what is usually referred to as “New Age”.   While these practices stem from ancient cultures such as Greece, Egypt, India, Japan and China; well it goes to show, “everything old is new again”.

The main focus, in my opinion, is that this show teaches good life lessons, and that any adversity can be overcome.  Just what we all need to keep focusing on, not just for 2020, but for life in general.  So, as we go into month eleven of Jumanji, focus more on overcoming the negative, reach for the fun, whether alone or with others, and cherish the moments.

Oh, Thanksgiving, a time to be thankful for what we had, have or will have in the future; like fun.   Think about this, how can anyone, for 10 months, be complaining, arguing, harassing, just be plain old nasty to others, and then suddenly be thankful?  If we have, then now is the time for a total turnaround in thinking and behavior.

Enough preaching, let’s practice.

My new toy for 2020 is donut pans; available in silicone (not a personal favorite), or non-stick metal (a best buy, in my opinion).
  Donuts are often fried, giving a light, airy texture to them.  Baked donuts are denser which means longer time to eat, longer time to savor the flavor.  I became fascinated with apple cider donuts, and the uses of cardamom (also spelled cardamon) while watching, what else,
Good Witch.  Oh yes, I have used cardamom in recipes from India, but have not really tried it in baking.

Cardamom is from the ginger family, and can be used whole or ground.  That chai tea or latte you enjoy so much, it contains cardamom.  The flavor is savory, smoky, lemony and minty; the aroma earthy; a complex herb.  Yes, herb, but once it is ground up, it becomes referred to as a spice.  One aspect you might appreciate, for health reasons, is cardamom is an antioxidant.

With the Thanksgiving holiday coming up, and apple cider often served to drink, why not eat it too!   This recipe is as close, considering the many I have found, to the donuts seen on Good Witch – Curse from a Rose.  It takes place during the last week of October, ending with a Halloween festival.  The lesson learned is, “Take ownership for the choices you make, even if you do not voice them out to others.  If the choice goes wrong, do not blame someone, who could not know your heart’s true intention.”

Now go, bake up some donuts, and HAVE FUN!!!


Apple Cider Donuts



1 and 1/2 cups apple cider

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon Cardamom

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter melted

1 large egg at room temperature

1/2 cup packed light or dark brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon Vanilla extract


1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground Cardamom

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


Reduce the apple cider: Stirring occasionally, simmer the apple cider in a small saucepan over low heat until you're left with about 1/2 cup. Start checking at 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, etc. until you have 1/2 cup. Mine takes about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray donut pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.

Make the donuts: Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.

Whisk the melted butter, egg, brown sugar, granulated sugar, milk, and vanilla extract together. Pour into the dry ingredients, add the reduced apple cider, and whisk everything together until smooth and combined. Batter will be slightly thick.

Spoon the batter into the donut cavities—for ease, I highly recommend using a large pastry bag with a round tip -- a zipped-top bag with a corner cut works as well. Pipe the batter into each donut cup, filling about halfway.

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the edges and tops are lightly browned. To test, poke your finger into the top of the donut. If the donut bounces back, they're done. Cool donuts for 2 minutes then transfer to a wire rack. Re-grease the pan and bake the remaining donut batter.

Coat the donuts: Combine the granulated sugar and spices together in a medium bowl. Once cool enough to handle, dunk both sides of each donut in the melted butter, then generously in the apple spice topping.

Donuts are best served immediately. Leftovers keep well covered tightly at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Makes 12 donuts.

Mary Cokenour 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Flipping Over Apple Cake.

"For I have had too much

Of apple-picking: I am overtired

Of the great harvest I myself desired.

There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,

Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall."

After Apple-Picking by Robert Frost


Fall season and it is apple picking time, or is it?  Within the four states of Utah, Colorado, Idaho and Montana, there are twenty-four varieties of apples grown.  During the months of late July through October, a variety may be upon its boughs, waiting to be plucked, eaten, or simply fall to the ground below.  Utah State University offers online guides to Intermountain Tree Fruit Production, and apples can be found at:

“An apple a day” might keep the doctor away, but eat too many, and you might have to see that same doctor.  An average sized apple has about twenty five grams of carbs.  For diabetics, an average serving of carbs is 15 grams, so blood sugar may spike.  It also contains about 90 calories, and can contribute to weight gain; eat 10 apples, that is 900 calories!  Yes, apples are very nutritious, but with any food, moderation should be maintained.  Apples are acidic in nature, so can cause gastric distress, and eat away at tooth enamel.  So an apple a day, maybe two, but don’t be a little piggy with one stuffed in your mouth.

What to do with so many harvested apples?  Eat, bake, cook, give away, and store.  If storing, sort the apples by size and make sure to look for bruising or any damage.  That one bad apple will destroy the lot.  Apples emit ethylene gas which accelerates ripening.  Store other fruits and vegetables away from the apple bins, as the gas will accelerate their ripening as well.  If apples are stored in plastic bags, be sure to poke a few holes in them, so the gas can filter out.  Apples will stay fresh in the refrigerator, and longer if stored at 30-32F.  Like with other fruits, they can be thinly sliced, dehydrated, placed in airtight bags or containers.  On a pantry shelf, six months is the life span; up to a year in the freezer.  Hey, pretty much like the dehydrated tomatoes I wrote about in my last article, and they are a fruit.

Samhain, All Hallows Eve or Halloween is on a Saturday this year, there will be a full moon, and the clocks need to fall back one hour.  One tradition, apple bobbing, dates back to the Roman invasion of Britain (beginning in ADE 43, under Emperor Claudius, and essentially completed by ADE 87).  In Roman culture, the apple tree was scared to Pomona, the Goddess of Plenty.  This was shared with the Celts, and became part of their traditional celebration.

The object of the “game” was young, unmarried people try to bite into an apple floating in water, or hanging from a string on a line.  The first person to bite into the apple would be the next one allowed to marry.  In Ireland, a maiden would place the apple, she bobbed, under her pillow and dream of her future sweetheart.

Of course, cooking and baking with apples gives us all sorts of wonderful treats to enjoy.  Apple dumplings, fritters, strudel, donuts, pies and all sorts of cakes; apples are a wonderland!  Which leads me into an autumn recipe for Apple Walnut Coffee Cake.  This is not a traditional coffee cake, with a streusel topping.  It is actually an upside down style of cake, with the streusel on the bottom.

Now I have found that most baking recipes, involving apples, typically will list the use of the Granny Smith.  They are very tart, yet crisp and hold their shape when cooked or baked.  An average Granny has 24 grams of carbs and about 100 calories; eating them will make your face pucker, just like green tomatoes will.

The key for baking is to use a diverse variety of apples for a mix of textures and flavors: sweet, tart, crisp, and soft.  Try mixing Honeycrisp or Braeburn with Granny Smith if you prefer your baked goods more tart, or for a sweeter experience, go with Gala or Fuji.  Not sure which combo is the best?  Experiment!  Make an adventure of it, sort of like a treasure hunt.

…and now the recipe for Apple Walnut Coffee Cake, or what my aka for it is, Upside Down Apple Walnut Coffee Cake.  I used Braeburn and Granny Smith apples to balance with the brown sugar.


Apple Walnut Coffee Cake

(Autumn Earthsong at:


2 ½ cup all-purpose flour

1 ½ cup brown sugar, packed

¾ cup butter, softened

1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp salt

1 egg

¾ cup sour cream

1 tsp vanilla

2 apples, cored, peeled and chopped


Combine flour, brown sugar, and butter with a fork until crumbly; stir in nuts.   Divide mixture in half.  Press one half into the bottom of a buttered 9 ½” springform baking pan to form crust; set aside.  Add baking soda, cinnamon and salt to remaining crumb mixture; mix well.  Make a well in the center; set aside.  Beat egg with sour cream and vanilla in a small bowl until smooth; add to flour mixture, stirring until just combined.  Fold in apples; spread batter evenly over crust.

 Bake at 375* for one hour and 20 minutes or until cake tests done; cool in pan on a wire rack. 


Makes 12 servings.

Note: Refrigerate leftovers, or store in airtight container in a cool place.  This is a very moist cake, and constant exposure to air will cause mold.

Mary Cokenour