Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Simplicity + Boiled Cider Syrup

My husband has called me out. I may or may not be guilty. He alleges that I put too much time, thought and mess into food preparation. I don't always do that, but sometimes I do. Some of that comes from me enjoying cooking and creating new things and a lot of it comes from me loving to eat. He has been challenging me to make more easy food. I informed him that is not so simple, there are standards to be upheld. I can't just pull dinner out of cardboard boxes every night and expect that to be equal to the stuff I make from scratch. It can't.

I got frustrated and offered to let him plan dinner for the next week, but told him the requirements: no, to steak on the grill every night and yes, to vegetables, legumes, fruits and whole grains. He balked, and hasn't taken me up on the offer. In fact he in even confessed that he couldn't do it like I do. (Thanks.) He just wanted a few nights a week when dinner was easy enough we would have time to hit the park or go on a walk before it is completely dark out.. Point taken. I can do that. Or at least I will try.

Are you ever guilty of the same?
What are your easy meals (easy on time and dishes)? 

Now switching gears. Cider. I adore fresh apple cider. Not the stuff on the shelf at the grocery store, but the just-pressed-yesterday liquid gold at the farm stands and markets. The hazard is, it doesn't last. One or two weeks and it will start to turn hard. Want fun trick of what to do with it? Boil it. Boil and concentrate it until you have a lovely syrup. If you have been balking at the price of real maple syrup- this is just the thing for you. One gallon of fresh cider runs about $3.75 to $5 here, (depending on where you buy it) to yield about 2-3 cups of syrup. The same amount of maple syrup (which is made the exact same way) is about 2-3 times more expensive. Plus, making this stuff is as easy as turning on a pot to boil for 2 hours and not totally forgetting about it.

It is the just the thing to top oatmeal pancakes  on a Saturday morning. Or a little bit in a recipe for muffins or scones would really add another dimension. I can't wait to use mine.


  1. My latest easy main dish is spaghetti with fried eggs, Parmesan, and bread crumbs. I got it out of the Cooks Illustrated publication. It takes maybe ten minutes, and just needs to be paired with a veggie. Another plus is that I almost always have those ingredients!

  2. sounds divine. I want it on whole wheat waffles, which also happens to be one of my easy meals when I am rushed.

    One thing that really simplifies things for me is having a kind of set food schedule. Monday night is mexican -- usually taco salad (easy) or taco soup in the winter (easy) or bean tostadas (easy).

    Tuesday -- rice night. something with rice -- a curry, a stir fry, grilled veggies

    Wednesday night has always been crazy with calling demands in the church so we often will do breakfast for dinner --- whole wheat pancakes or waffles or swedish pancakes with fruit. Or sometimes we will do yummy sandwiches on that night.

    Thursday night -- pasta something.

    Friday - always homemade pizza

    Saturday --- soup in the winter... simmering all day while we are doing chores.

    Sunday -- we are at the in-laws. Typical sunday dinner fare.

    Just a thought. This can simplify things... at least it does for me.

  3. I thought maple syrup came from tree sap, not apple cider. (Obviously, I am not from New York.)

    I am currently in a progressive phase with food as we try to focus more on fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Some ideas:

    - pasta; whole-wheat noodles + sauteed veggies
    - asparagus sandwiches: open-faced with asparagus, tomatoes, basil, and slices of cheese (use your own homemade whole-wheat bread)
    - quesdillas--not sure about whole-grain tortillas; maybe pitas?
    - pizza ALWAYS works well and is easy breezy (Matt grills it; even easier for me)

    Also, Mexican anything works well--some beans and/or rice with tortilla chips and heaps of toppings (tomatoes, lettuce, avocado)

    From a friend: oatmeal with fruit, homemade burritos, veggies with hummus, anything with couscous (easy to make); she preps all her fresh food once a week, the day she buys it, so it's easy to get at later.

    (As you can see, I used this comment as a personal brainstorming session. I'll be interested to see what you come up with!)

  4. Tricia- I actually meant maple syrup is made the same way by boiling something down for a long time. You are right- it does come from the sap of a sugar maple.

    Thanks for all of your ideas.

    I like your theme-style planning. I am not a creature of habit and having one thing on repeat weekly seems difficult for me- but something like a rice dish or a pasta dish on set days is much more doable and helpful for planning.

    I will have to look that recipe up. Sounds lovely simple.

  5. My easy meal is probably chicken curry. I absolutely love Indian food, and it's not nearly as difficult as it sounds.

    I use a basic yellow curry paste, spices like cumin and turmeric, lots of potatoes (and whatever other veggies you like), sometimes chicken, and though I generally use regular white rice, you could alway substitute brown rice, and coconut milk.

    There are tons of curry recipes online, but if you really want to know the way I do it, feel free to email me at

    Love the blog, by the way! I'm one of Christie's friends from the adlab, also. :)


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.