One thing I’ve noticed now that we’re a whopping 10 days into autumn is that everyone and their grandmothers are going crazy for fall drinks. Having said that, I probably should’ve expected this craze from a distance. The biggest hint was a snapchat I received from a friend that said “First Pumpkin Spice Latte of the Season!” on maybe September 2nd or 3rd, despite it being 80° F and blisteringly sunny that day—perfect pumpkin spice weather apparently. However, now that the temperature is finally dropping from 80° to a chilly 72°, I deem it finally appropriate to partake in discourse on my favorite fall beverage—apple cider. I come from a small town in Pennsylvania—we don’t have much in my small town, but we do have more apple trees than we know what to do with. Consequentially, us Pennsylvanians make a mean apple cider (in our superior opinion), ad with it being your lucky day, you’ll soon be sipping some cider under the foliage while those with their sub-par pumpkin spice lattes look upon you in envy.
- Apples. You need apples, preferably red but hey, the world is your oyster, if you want to try granny smith cider, I’m not going to stop you. A good amount of apples should be about 8-12 depending on how potent you want the deliciousness to be.
- Quarter the apples and keep everything. Those seeds that contain cyanide? Adds to the flavor. Throw the apple quarters in an appropriately sized pot and drown them in the finest tap water you can find. Cover the quarters with water, and seal the apples’ fate by stabbing them with about 4 cinnamon sticks.
- Leave the cinnamon sticks in the apple grave, and bring to a boil. Boil for about one hour. At this point you should begin calling all of your friends and convincing them to come over for a little. This is solely so that you can show them how much better your house smells compared to theirs.
- While boiling, dissolve around ¾ cup of brown sugar into the goopy goodness. Don’t worry though, I’m not your mom. If you want to completely saturate your cider with brown sugar so that it tastes like it came straight from Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, I’m not watching.
- Throw in another cinnamon stick just to be sure.
- Turn down that heat after about an hour of boiling, simmer the juices for a good 90 minutes.
- Pour your apple goodness into a mason jar, it must be a mason jar as anything else with ruin the flavor and authenticity of the apple cider. I prefer my cider semi-pulpy to remind myself of my hard work, however if that isn’t your cup of tea, strain the juice through a cheese cloth and milk the goop in order to maximize the cider.
- Pour more water into the pot (with the same apple from the first batch still in it) and repeat! Usually the apples are good for about 2-3 batches of cider, but be warned! Each batch is more dilute than the last, naturally.
Not only will this incredible, “better than pretty much anything that’s ever touch your tongue” apple cider taste even better knowing that you made it yourself…you might even be able to make a bit of cash on the side, as people will be so desperate to have this nectar of the gods they will pay whatever the price (please don’t take my words for gospel). In conclusion, the spiced pumpkin can move over, there’s a near cowboy in town, and his name is Apple.
Ben’s Kitchen: Chicken and Veggies.
My favorite food is bar food. I love a big juicy burger topped with 4 different kinds of heart attacks that is just finger licking worthy and incredibly delicious. Unfortunately, I’m currently attempting to fight the battle to prevent myself from gaining the “Sophomore seven-hundred pounds” (a 100% real and serious condition that’s sweeping the nation), I’ve been trying to eat healthier with my meal choices this semester. I was talking to my mom the other week, and she told me I should try out these new inventions called “vegetables”, which are apparently supposed to be good for you, or something along those lines. Anyway, after trying my hand at cooking with these “veggies” (apparently a nickname for them), I’ve come across the epiphany that they aren’t actually half-bad! There’s one dish in particular that is very simple to make and is quite delicious. I’ve creatively name it “Chicken and Veggies”
Preheat an oven to 360°F.
- Google what vegetable are, and acquire some. I used “the broccoli”, “the onion”, these things called “carrots”, and bell peppers. Chop them up into pieces a little bit bigger than bite size.
- Take a baking tray and throw those vegetables onto it. Some like it organized based on different vegetables—I prefer to live a little and throw them all in with little to no regard for where each vegetable goes. Pelt the vegetables with garlic cloves and throw the tray in the oven and let cook.
- Lay out big ol’ squares of tin foil, take chicken breasts and place one chicken breast per square of tin foil.
- Sauce it up! Use whichever sauce your little heart desires. I’ve found just standard lemon juice or balsamic vinaigrette takes incredible, but reach for the stars and put on that spicy ranch if you feel so inclined.
- Wrap up the chicken in the tin foil so that no chicken can be seen. You want to keep that chicken sweat in there so that it tastes better.
- Nonchalantly throw the tin foil chicken pieces in the oven as well, cook for about 15 minutes of until all the salmonella has run away.
- Take all the goodness out of the oven, grab a plate or a bowl or whatever you wish to eat on.
This dish is one that I’ve found not only to be nutritious from these vegetables that I’ve been introduced to—but also delicious to put onto your taste buds. Who knew that my parents were right all along, and that healthy food can be just as good as those slow cooked barbecue ribs… even though that’s a very hard feat to accomplish. Next time on Ben’s Kitchen, we’ll learn what vitamins are, and how they’re necessary for daily life. Until next time!