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.

Good Grief, Good Deeds & Super Bowl Beer Bread

Super Bowl Beer Bread with horseradish cheddar

Super Bowl Beer Bread with horseradish cheddar

Us grievers live on a roller coaster of emotions. It is a scary ride. One second we are up and the next second we are down. We feel out of control. It is just the way it is. It is normal. If you are new to grief then most likely you are spending more time sad than happy. Trust me that is going to change. Eventually there will be more smiles than tears. It’s a promise. I am happy to be the voice of hope. This ride is going to get better.

Let the grief happen. Take however long it takes. Use your instincts to get through it or  counseling or a bereavement group. Whatever it takes. Always keep in my mind that your loved ones want you to go on, live your life and be OK. Honor them by doing just that. It’s hard work. Remember you are stronger than you think. You CAN do this.

Suddenly, without warning, change happens. At least that is the way it was for me. I did not recognize it at first. I am the same person, but I am different. It is a transformation. I am smiling more. I am laughing and not feeling guilty about it. I am engaging in activities and having fun. When the heck did that happen? My William is happy about this. I just know it.


A smiling toast to you William


It’s OK to have a princess party

Somehow, our brains and hearts learn to adapt. It must be some kind of evolutionary survival thing. The pain is still there. I expect and accept it will always be, but it is as if it is tucked away in a safety deposit box. Like a precious piece of jewelry only to be worn on special occasions.

Talk about special occasions today is the day I announce the winner of my, “This is for Meghan” good deed give away. Thanks to everyone who did an act of kindness in her honor. Your support has meant a great deal to her dad. Congratulations to Louis Matino for winning the Cuisinart Griddler.

Another special occasion coming up is the Super Bowl, so I am sharing a great game day recipe. Instead of serving the usual crackers and crostini at this year’s party try making this easy quick bread. Made with whole wheat flour (healthy) and beer (any brew will do), its perfect slices make a great platform for cheese spreads and sandwiches. Did I mention it has beer in it?…….a football party staple. Have fun and enjoy yourself.

Quick Whole Wheat Beer Bread

1 ½ cups  100% whole wheat flour

1 ½ cups all purpose flour

¼ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon Asian five spice

1 (12 oz) bottle of beer

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Heat oven 375F.  Spray 8×4 or 9×5-inch loaf pan with no-stick baking spray. In large bowl, combine flours, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and spice. Add beer, all at once, and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened; do not over mix. Spoon batter evenly into loaf pan. Drizzle or brush melted butter evenly over the top.  Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until golden brown on top and instant read thermometer measures about 205F. Cool 5 minutes in pan. Turn out onto wire rack and cool completely.

Note: this recipe is adapted from Heckers