Fall Fun Facts Part 2: recipe Edition

In our last installment we spoke about Apple Picking, Folk Lore, and The Do’s and Don’ts of Leaf Peeping. This time we shall explore my favorite recipes of the season starting with something to drink – Spiced Apple Cider, something to eat – Beef Stew in a Pumpkin and something for dessert Apple Pie.

Hot Spiced Apple Cider:

  • Ingredients:
    • 6 cups fresh apple cider
    • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup (more or less, to taste)
    • 2 cinnamon sticks
    • 6 whole cloves
    • 6 whole allspice berries
    • 6 strips orange peel
    • 6 strips lemon peel


Pour the apple cider and maple syrup into a large stainless steel saucepan. Place the cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice berries, orange peel and lemon peel in the center of a washed square of cheesecloth; fold up the sides of the cheesecloth to enclose the bundle, then tie it up with a length of kitchen string. Drop the spice bundle into the cider mixture.

Place the saucepan over moderate heat for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the cider is very hot but not boiling.

Remove the cider from the heat. Discard the spice bundle. Ladle the cider into big cups or mugs, adding a fresh cinnamon stick to each serving, if you like.

Beef Stew in a Pumpkin


  • A plump, very fresh, 10 – 12 lb pumpkin with a wide, steady base
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds beef, cut in 1″ cubes
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped green onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 3 large minced garlic cloves
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • 1 cup madeira or dry sherry
  • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds white potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1/2 lb zucchini, slices about 1/4″ thick
  • 1 cup corn
  • 12-14 dried apricots
  • 12-14 pitted prunes
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cinnamon
  • Pinch ground cloves


Scrub pumpkin well.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in 5 quart casserole over medium heat. Add beef in batches to brown on all sides. Warm brandy, ignite and pour over beef. Transfer meat to platter and set aside. In same casserole pot, combine oil, onion, green pepper and garlic, cooking over medium heat about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add stock and madeira and bring to boil. Scrape sides and return meat and juices to pot.

Stir in tomatoes, salt, oregano, pepper, bay leaf, and cloves. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook 15 minutes. Add potatoes and cook 15 minutes more. Stir in zucchini and cook 10 minutes more. Add corn, apricots and prunes and cook another 5 minutes. Keep stew warm on low heat while preparing pumpkin.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut pumpkin about 3 or 4 inches from top to form a lid and do not remove stem! Scrape out seeds and string fibers from lid and base. Brush melted butter inside pumpkin and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Replace lid and bake pumpkin in roasting pan about 40 minutes.

Pour juices from pumpkin into stew and stir well. Place stew into pumpkin and bake about 15 minutes longer.

Apple Pie


  • For crust
    • 2 cups all purpose flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
    • 2 tablespoons chilled vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
    • 6 to 7 tablespoons chilled orange juice
  • For filling
    • 2 generous tablespoons coarsely chopped dried tart cherries
    • 2 generous tablespoons finely chopped dried apricots
    • 2 generous tablespoons finely chopped dried peaches
    • 2 tablespoons orange juice
    • 2 1/2 pounds Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, thinly sliced
    • 3 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
    • 1/4 cup honey
    • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
    • 1 tablespoon grated orange peel


Make crust:

Combine flour, sugar and salt in large bowl; add butter. Using fingertips, rub in butter until pieces range in size from rice grains to peas. Add shortening; rub in until pieces are size of small peas. Sprinkle 5 tablespoons juice over, tossing gently with fork to blend. Continue adding enough juice 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with a fork, to form moist clumps. Gather dough into ball; divide into 2 parts, 1 slightly larger than the other. Flatten dough onto disks. Wrap in plastic; chill 1 1/2 hours or up to 1 day.

Make filling:

Mix cherries, apricots, peaches and orange juice in large bowl. Let stand 30 minutes. Mix in apples, flour, cinnamon and cardamom; then mix in honey, butter and orange peel.

Position rack in bottom third of oven, and preheat to 425°F. Roll out larger dough disk on lightly floured surface to 13-inch round. Transfer dough to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Trim overhand to 1/2 inch. Roll out second dough disk on lightly floured surface to 12-inch round. Using fluted pastry wheel or knife, cut dough into 1/2-inch-wide strips. Spoon filling into bottom crust. {Step Two} Arrange 6 pastry strips evenly atop filling. Arrange 6 more strips at right angles, forming lattice. Fold under ends of strips with overhanging dough. {Step Three} Crimp crust edge decoratively.

Bake pie 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake until apples are tender and juices bubble thickly around edge, about 1 hour 10 minutes longer. Transfer pie to rack. Cool 1 hour.

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