Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Caramel Glaze

apple cakeBut first, a few words about blogging (or rather, my lack thereof)…

I’ve been mostly absent in this space and, at first, I blamed it on the summer.  Kids were home, my husband took an extended work sabbatical, vacations were enjoyed.  Then the kids went back to school and I blamed it on the accompanying frenzy that followed-making sure everyone was organized, forms were filled out, college application deadlines are met.  But when I really slowed down and honestly contemplated the reason I haven’t been hanging out on Fiercely Fresh lately, it looked less like outward distraction and more like inward discouragement.

When I began this blog, I intended to document my journey as a first-time CSA member.  In the process, my love of photography bloomed (hooray!).  Also, I realized there is a vast world-wide web of food blogs out there started by folks who (not unlike me) liked to cook and take photographs.  I added many of those blogs to my rss reader so that I could glean from these pioneers.  Many of them still occupy space there and I cannot wait to open my blog reader every couple of days to catch up on their latest posts.  Slowly, though, something else was happening as I pored over these beautiful blogs taking mental notes about flavors and food styling…I was comparing my blog to theirs and repeatedly feeling as though I was falling short.

Mark Twain said “Comparison is the death of joy” and I have always found this to be truth. Comparing myself to bloggers who have been around awhile and put in a lot of hard work to evolve their blogs has insidiously decreased my joy in this space.  But no more…starting with this apple cake, I’m dusting myself off and reclaiming my joy.  This cake is sweeter than this recipe posted previously, and the brown sugar caramel glaze makes it decidedly decadent.

Another reason I started this blog is because I believe that it can be easy to make good, honest food.  Even though my mother was a good cook, she depended largely on packaged foods (I never had mashed potatoes which were made from real potatoes until I made them as an adult!).  Watching this piece recently from chef Mark Bittman reaffirmed why I will continue to post here.

Everyone has the ability to cook healthy, affordable non-fussy food at home.

Let’s all start today and we will celebrate with a cake.

Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Caramel Glaze


  • 4 cups apples, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinammon
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup safflower oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • Brown Sugar Caramel Glaze:
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a 9 x 13-inch pan with butter and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat eggs until light and foamy. Add the oil and vanilla and beat well.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon until combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing just until incorporated. It will be very thick. Fold in the apples and the pecans.

Spread evenly in the prepared pan using a spatula. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

Make the glaze while the cake is still hot: Add all ingredients to a small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat. After the mixture begins to bubble, continue to cook another 3-4 minutes to allow sugar to dissolve. Pour hot glaze over cake and continue to allow cake to cool.

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Wrap it Up: Weekly Link Love


hydrangeaHappy Friday!  Happy weekend!

I’ve got so many fun links to share with you, but I’ll try not to overwhelm…

Everything started going down in Ferguson, Missouri while we were on vacation.  This is a great piece form a real perspective that mom’s can understand:  A Mother’s White Privilege

Lashblast Fusion, Chubby Stick, and Million Lashes:  proof that beauty product names make zero sense

Can I add a yurt to my Amazon Wishlist?  Also, can I live here?

Here’s what the sun is actually doing to your face

Burpees.  No likey.

This is bananas.  B-a-n-a-n-a-s.

Instead of serving our bodies

Every comment on every recipe blog.  Yes!

10 habits you should pick up from your grandmother

For your viewing pleasure:  Pornburger

These Where the Wild Things Are cakes are amazing!

The authentic weather app tells me it’s “Totally not shitty.” outside today

My son-in-law draws fun lunch bag pictures for my grandkids and I used to pop notes into the kids lunches now and then, so I can totally relate to this article, the lunchbox note on steroids

According to Gene Simmons, the future of rock is dead

Through the years, a few people (I’m thinking of one in particular) have asked us why we never moved “up” to a bigger house (we came REALLY close once), but ultimately we decided against it and I’m SO glad we did.  This article, “Give me gratitude or give me debt” really hit home for me and embodied the reasons why we never took the plunge.  Also, this is exactly how I feel about my coffee maker.

Have a great weekend!


Crispy Parmesan Brussel Sprouts with Capers (Also, a few photos from our trip north of the border)

Love VancouverHello strangers!

Yeah, I basically took the rest of the summer off from blogging.  Then school started 1 1/2 weeks after we returned from vacation, and shell shock set in.  It’s definitely been a whirlwind past couple of months, but things seem to be settling back into a slow groove (for now).

You might remember I mentioned in my last post that we were headed to the Pacific northwest for several weeks, kids in tow this time.  Everywhere we went, everywhere we ate, every place we covered during our 2,300 road trip made us falll in love over and over again.

But Vancouver stole our hearts.


Almost all of our hearts (our daughter liked the city also, but she got to visit with a friend in Seattle so, of course, that was her favorite stop).  Vancouver is culturally diverse, ridiculously clean, and magnificently beautiful.  There are REAL bike paths throughout the city, and by real I mean safely separated from automotive traffic.  The motorists respect the pedestrian and bike traffic, unlike drivers in most bigger U.S. cities I’ve visited.  It almost doesn’t make sense to drive your car downtown, especially since there is no major freeway into the city.  Vancouver is surrounded by water on three sides, which means there are plenty of bridges.

We did all the touristy things:  The Canadian Trail, biking the seawall, visiting the Granville Market and (of course) we ate.

And ate….and ate.

One of the standout meals was a lunch we had one of our first days in the city.  On a beautiful breezy afternoon in a part of the city called gastown, we opted for an outdoor seat along one the cobblestone streets at a tavern-y place called The Flying Pig.  Our lovely, engaging waitress (gosh, I wish I could remember her name!) made several menu suggestions, but the crispy Brussel sprouts small plate  was most intriguing.  After confessing my hate of the vegetable, she relayed that many haters are turned lovers after trying it and so we ordered it.  We gobbled it down at record speed and immediately began plotting how to fit another visit back to the restaurant into our already jam-packed schedule.  I refused to leave until the waitress described the chef’s recipe to me.

Flash frying is a method of quick cooking in an extremely hot neutral-tasting oil with a high burn point for a short period of time, thus reducing greatly the amount of time the food is in the oil.  Because the oil is hot, the food only needs to be submerged for about 30 seconds or so.  A few tips for flash frying:

1).  Use grape seed or sunflower oil.

2).  It’s hard to say how much oil you will need.  It will depend on the size of your pot, but you want the brussel sprouts to just be submerged.  I used an entire quart of grape seed oil.

3).  Make sure you choose a deep enough pot because there will be a bit of spitting and splatter when you drop the sprouts in.

4).  Cook in small batches.  If you put too many sprouts in at a time, it will reduce the temperature of the oil too much.

5).  Don’t be intimidated!  It really is a quick process.

crispy brussel sprouts

Crispy Parmesan Brussels Sprouts with Capers (from The Flying Pig)


  • 1 pound of fresh brussel sprouts, halved and woody stems removed
  • 2 Tbsp capers
  • juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
  • Fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • grape seed or sunflower oil

Bring brussel sprouts to room temperature (this will help decrease splattering)

Heat oil in large, deep pot over medium-high heat. I used a candy thermometer and heated mine to almost 200 degrees fahrenheit.

Gently and carefully drop 8-10 brussel sprouts into hot oil. I used my hand and dropped a few in the oil and stood back a few seconds until the initial spitting subsided. Again, you should dividing the brussel sprouts into about 3-4 cooking batches.

Watch the brussel sprouts because they will crisp quickly. When the edges of the leaves begin to turn a golden brown color (about 30 seconds), remove them to a plate lined with paper towels.

Complete the process, working in batches until all the sprouts are flash fried.

Transfer the crispy sprouts to a bowl or plate.

Sprinkle capers on top and squeeze lemon juice over sprouts.

Top with fresh grated parmesan to taste.

Enjoy immediately or the brussel sprouts will lose their crispiness (they still make great leftovers, though!)

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