Good Grief & How do You Like Them SuperBowl Stuffed Apples

a variety of local farm apples

a variety of local farm apples

This week’s blog post is brought to you by a chance meeting with “a genius” at the Apple store. If you own an Apple anything you probably are familiar with all the friendly folks who provide such fabulous customer service and classes at your local store. I especially enjoy the “one-to-one” tutoring and yesterday I was learning about iphoto and photo organization. As I was working with Charlie I mentioned a small glitch I was having with the computer. He immediately signed me in to have a session with a repair associate and while I was at it he recommended I also meet with a business associate in case I ever wanted to turn this blog into a business. As a side note, GoodGriefCook will never be a business, but I was flattered.

pick your own heirloom apples getting a bath

pick your own heirloom apples getting a bath

Off to the “Genius” bar I go where Chris is now analyzing my computer. He is reading and talking in code and I fully understand how he’s earned the title of “Genius”. I have no clue what he is saying or doing, but I nod politely and go along with it. Meanwhile, the business associate joins us and asks me to tell him about my food blog. We chat for a few minutes and then I turn my attention back to Chris who has completed the diagnostics. It comes as no shock that he has figured out the computer glitch, but what he says next completely surprises me. He looks me straight in the eyes and says, “I am going to read your blog. You see I have been going through some things with grief that I don’t understand. It isn’t getting better “.

cranberries are the perfect bittersweet fruit

cranberries are the perfect bittersweet fruit

Gosh darn it if I didn’t feel like “the Genius” now. It’s not a job I trained for, but I sure could relate to what he was trying to figure out. I could not fix it like a computer, but maybe I could help in some small way. I hope I listened well and I hope that I did the best teaching of my life in that moment with Chris who was feeling so alone in the middle of that crowded Apple store.

that's Italian

that’s Italian

Are you anticipating a big crowd around your TV for the Superbowl? This recipe landed me a finalist spot in the Ocean Spray Tailgate recipe contest a few years ago and a trip to Gillette stadium where the New England Patriots play. I remember the judge, Chef Ming Tsai saying my recipe would be fit for a tailgate with Martha Stewart. I was flattered.

Big Game Cranberry Sausage Stuffed Apples

8 large Granny Smith apples

8 ounces sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed

1 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup Ocean Spray® Cran•Apple™ Cranberry Apple Juice Drink

2 cups Ocean Spray® Fresh or Frozen Cranberries, coarsely chopped plus 16 whole berries

1 large egg, slightly beaten

2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

1/4 cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Slice off 1 inch from top of each apple. Core apples, but do not go through bottom. Scoop out remaining apple flesh, leaving 1/4-inch shell. Chop scooped apple flesh.

Cook sausage in large skillet over medium heat, stirring to crumble, until no longer pink. Add onion and chopped apples; cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes or until onion is softened. Add juice drink, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of skillet. Transfer mixture to large bowl. Add chopped cranberries, egg, brown sugar, parsley, thyme and 1 cup cheese; mix well. Fill apple shells with stuffing. Sprinkle tops with remaining cheese and the walnuts. Top each with 2 whole cranberries. Place apples in large baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes.



Ocean Spray Tailgating Recipe Contest Finalist 
Lisa Keys.

Memories & Recipes: Please Share

low country potato salad

low country potato salad

Have you read The Giver by Lois Lowry? It is the story of a frightening world where freedom of choice has been taken away. It is a world of government-controlled sameness devoid of emotion and memories. There are vivid scenes of infanticide and elder euthanasia that brings this one to tears. Thankfully, the main character, a 12-year-old named Jonas, is about to set this world on fire. He is “the Receiver” of the memories and quickly learns it is just too much for one person to bear.

sharing some memories

Sharing some memories

memories of great friends

Fun Family Memories

Like Jonas, I agree that memories are meant to share. After William died the best gifts given to me were memories of him. The personal stories provided a glimpse into his world through the eyes of others. I learned so much about him from friends, family, classmates, military brothers and sisters. They felt so very privileged to know him and were delighted to share a few tales. It was the good, the bad and the ugly of William. It was comforting. For the most part it made me laugh and to this day thoughts of these memories continue to heal me. I would be lying, however, if I did not admit to at least one story that made me cringe. Trying to put that one out of my mind and forgive the one who shared it.

memories of great friends

Memories of great friends

So if you ever find yourself wondering what to say or write to someone who is grieving…Share a good memory of the deceased. And if you live close and feel the need to stop by share a family favorite recipe. Bring your most comforting dish. It is a sign of your love and caring. Don’t forget to share a copy of the recipe.

I never quite understand those who covet their recipes. Guarding grandma’s secret sauce mix or worse, yet, sharing a recipe, but omitting an ingredient on purpose. I, on the other hand, think it the ultimate compliment when one asks me for a copy of a recipe. Recipes like memories are meant to share. Enjoy. This one brings back memories of my days in the South.IMG_0845

Low Country Style Potato Salad

12 small (1 pound) red-skinned potatoes

2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning

½ pound large shrimp, shelled, deveined

1 cup fresh cut or frozen sweet corn, thawed

2 links fresh andouille sausage, casing removed

½ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup chili sauce

2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley plus additional for garnish

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons prepared horseradish

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 rib crisp celery, chopped

4 green onions, thinly sliced including some of the green part

2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped

Place a metal steamer basket in a large pot. Add water to a depth of 2- inches. In a bowl, toss potatoes with vinegar. Drain vinegar into pot with water; bring water-vinegar mixture to a boil. Toss potatoes with 1 tablespoon old bay seasoning; place in steamer basket, cover and cook 20 minutes or until tender. Transfer potatoes to a plate; let cool. In bowl, toss shrimp with remaining 1-tablespoon old bay seasoning. Place shrimp and corn in steamer basket; cover and cook 3 to 5 minutes or until fully cooked. Transfer to plate; let cool. Meanwhile, brown sausage in small skillet, breaking up into crumbles with a wooden spoon; set aside. In small bowl, whisk mayonnaise, chili sauce, parsley, lemon juice, horseradish and Worcestershire sauce; cover and chill dressing until ready to assemble salad. Cut potatoes and shrimp into bite-size pieces. In a large bowl, toss potatoes, shrimp, corn, half the sausage crumbles, celery, green onions and eggs with the dressing. Place potato salad on a large serving platter. Sprinkle with remaining sausage crumbles and garnish with parsley.

Ounce of Prevention …and a Pound of Sausage

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I wonder how William would feel about my mission taking on the Naval Safety Center.  As one who never needed anything “fixed” by his mother he’d probably encourage me “to get over it and let it go”. However, finding a cause that celebrates one’s child and may benefit others helps to give some positive meaning to the tragic situation. Maybe one can make a difference, so another doesn’t find themselves here. Maybe change is possible. It’s about an ounce of prevention. Choose a cause.

Cooking in Afghanistan. Maybe sausage & peppers.

Cooking in Afghanistan. Maybe sausage & peppers.

For the last two years my mission has to do with educating those in command of the Naval Safety Center. Not that these folks need educating about sleep deprivation, but they sure could use some impetus to implement some common sense rules related to its risks. My goodness the military has rules about everything–where to go, how to dress, what to do and what to eat…..how about a rule to protect those who at a given moment really can’t protect themselves?

Most are well aware of the scientific evidence that cognitive deficits of sleep deprivation kick in early and linger and that the incidence of motor vehicle fatalities is higher among those military that have been deployed. Our government spends millions of our hard earned tax dollars on educational safety programs for enlisted young men and women seemingly committed to the goal of zero preventable losses.  Sailors and marines are required to take classes on everything from personal protective equipment to travel risk planning throughout their careers. Hmmm–with all this education these young sailors and marines should be able to take care of themselves.

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William’s roadside memorial

Oops-we forgot about the facts on sleep deprivation: the cognitive impairment, the poor reaction time, the slowing of the reflexes and “the impairment which is like being drunk” according to one correspondence. Don’t they get it? All the education in the world doesn’t matter when one can’t think for oneself. It’s common sense that a commander would never turn over the car keys to a sailor who had been drinking, so why doesn’t the same rule apply for those who have been sleep deprived due to a course of special training? It’s an easy rule: Go to sleep. No liberty for 48 hours. I’ll keep you posted when I hear back from Naval Safety Command on my latest suggestion.

In the meantime, here is a super easy recipe that is a family favorite. There are no hard and fast rules to the recipe, so feel free to experiment with it. Only 4 ingredients, so buy the very best products available. Delicious on a crusty Italian roll or over some cheesy soft polenta.

Sausage & Peppers

1 pound Italian sausage links, hot or sweet or combination of both

3 bell peppers( red, green), seeded and sliced

1 large onion, sliced

1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes (splurge on the San Marzano)

Heat oven 400F. Place sausage in a roasting pan. Roast about 20 minutes, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides. Add peppers and onions, roast for 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes or until bubbling. Remove foil and bake for another 10 to reduce some of the liquid.