I was thinking this week about how cooking is somewhat like clothes. What I mean by that is as the seasons change, we tend to choose different types of clothes to wear because what seemed just fine for hot summer days doesn’t always appeal in cooler weather. I think it is the same with cooking. I know as the weather cools down, I tend to think about a different kind of cooking to what I did in the summer. Fall seems to bring a yearning for pumpkins, apples, spices, soups, stews and the like. Trying to squeeze in a little more “porch time” before it is too late, sipping a nice hot coffee on the front porch and watching that “certain slant of light” that Emily Dickinson wrote about is a joy not to be missed. And speaking of coffee, be sure to check out the homemade coffee creamers today! I think you’ll find all of that reflected in today’s column.

There must be a gazillion Apple Cake recipes out there, and I have yet to have one I did not like. I have included a couple for you today. And if you have a favorite please send it to me so I can share it! This column is rather heavy on sweets, but there are two “savory” recipes you don’t want to miss. Kathryn Choate was one of Dayton’s finest cooks, her Black Eyed Pea Chili is a wonderful recipe, particularly if you like black eyed peas. I tend to think of it ore as a dressed up black eyed pea recipe more than I do as a chili. And Melissa Morgan Foster’s Ruben Casserole has all the right flavors to enjoy a little taste of Oktoberfest!

Apple Cake

2 eggs

1 cup oil

2 cups white sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking soda

4 cups of apples diced

Preheat oven 350° grease and flour a 9x13 cake pan. Beat oil and eggs with mixer till creamy add the sugar and vanilla and beat well. Combine flour, salt baking soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl slowly add this mixture to the egg mixture and mix until it combines. The batter will be very thick. Fold in the apples by hand using a wooden spoon and spread batter into prepared pan. Bake 40 to 45 minutes


2 cups powdered sugar

1/8 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. butter, softened

1 small apple diced and microwaved for a minute and then mashed.

Mix all together and spread over the cake.

One Bowl Apple Cake

Note: This cake is so moist and rich and just perfect for this time of year. (and easy to make!)

2 eggs

1 & 3/4 cups sugar

2 heaping teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 cup oil

6 medium Gala or Fuji or Honey Crisp apples

2 cups flour

2 tsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, cinnamon and oil. Peel and slice the apples and add to mixture in bowl (coating as you go to keep apples from turning brown.) Mix together the baking powder and flour and add to the ingredients in the bowl. Mix well (best with a fork) until all of the flour is absorbed by the wet ingredients. Pour mixture into a greased one 9x13 or two 9-inch, round pans. Bake for approximately 55 minutes.

Autumn Apple Cake!!

5 to 7 apples

1 (9 oz.) pkg. yellow cake mix

2 Tbs sugar

1 Tbs. ground cinnamon

1 stick real butter

Preheat oven to 350°. Fill a 9x13 pan one-half full with apples which are peeled, cored and sliced thin. Sprinkle the apples with dry cake mix. Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the cake mix. Melt butter and drizzle over. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Can be served with ice cream, if desired... You can also use other fruits for this cake.

Kathryn Choate’s Black Eyed Pea Chili

Note: All the notes in the recipe are Kathryn’s.

I always double.

1 lb. sausage (I prefer Bryan’s extra lean.)

1 medium onion chopped

1 clove garlic minced

2 (16 oz.) cans black-eyed peas, drained

1 (16 oz.) can tomatoes (I use Rotel)

1/4 cup water

1 Tbs. chili powder, or less to taste

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. sugar

Crumble sausage in a skillet, and cook until done. Drain well. Stir in onion and garlic. Saute three to five minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer one hour, stirring occasionally.

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

1 (15 oz) can pumpkin

1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk

3 large eggs

1 & 1/2 cups sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tso. salt

1 box yellow cake mix

1 cup pecans, chopped

1 cup butter, melted

Cool Whip

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. (I used my mixer for this step.) Pour into a greased 9x13 baking dish. Run cake mix through a sifter to get lumps out and sprinkle dry cake mix evenly over pumpkin mixture. Top with pecans. Drizzle melted butter over pecans. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until golden brown. Cool. Serve chilled (or warm). Top with a dollop of whipped topping.

Ruben Casserole from Melissa Morgan Foster

6 slices rye bread, divided

1 lb. pastrami or corned beef, thinly sliced or shaved

1 (14.5 oz.) can sauerkraut

4 cups Swiss Cheese, shredded

1 cup dill pickles, chopped

1 cup milk

1/3 cup Thousand Island dressing

1/4 cup mustard

3 large eggs

2 tsp. caraway seeds

Preheat oven to 350° and lightly grease a 9x11 baking dish with butter or non-stick spray. Take four pieces of rye bread and cut them into cubes. Place remaining bread in food processor, pulse until you’ve got fine breadcrumbs and set aside. Spread cubed bread out along the bottom of your baking dish, then cover with one-half of pastrami. Top beef with sauerkraut, pickles, half of caraway seeds and two cups cheese. Cover with remaining beef, caraway seeds and cheese. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, salad dressing and mustard, then beat in eggs until combined. Pour wet ingredients evenly over the casserole, then top with breadcrumbs. Place baking dish in oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until mixture is bubbly, top is browned and center is set. Remove from oven and serve hot. Serves six to eight.

Homemade Coffee Creamers

For each flavor of creamer, you start off with the same basic ‘base’ recipe.

14 oz sweetened condensed milk

1 & 3/4 cup milk or cream

Mix the ingredients together well. Add them to a mason jar and shake to thoroughly mix the contents.

Possible Flavor Combinations:

French Vanilla Creamer

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Vanilla Bean Coffee Creamer

2 tsp. vanilla bean paste


2 to 3 Tbs. chocolate syrup

Chocolate Almond

1 Tbs. cocoa powder

1 tsp. almond extract


1 Tbs. cinnamon

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. almond extract

Vanilla Caramel

2 Tbs. caramel ice cream topping

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Chocolate Raspberry

2 tsp. cocoa powder

2 Tbs. raspberry syrup

Irish Cream

2 Tbs. chocolate syrup

1 tsp. instant coffee

1 to 2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. almond extract


2 tsp. coconut extract


2 tsp. coconut extract

2 Tbs. chocolate syrup

2 Tbs. caramel ice cream topping

Peppermint Patty

2 Tbs. chocolate syrup

1 tsp. peppermint extract

Cinnamon Vanilla

2 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Pumpkin Spice

3 Tbs. pureed pumpkin

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

4 Tbs. maple syrup

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Honey Vanilla

1/4 cup honey

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Almond Joy

1 to 2 tsp. coconut extract

1 tsp. almond extract

2 Tbs. chocolate syrup

Sweet Cream

Use 1 & 3/4 cups of heavy cream instead of the milk in the base recipe

2 tsp. vanilla extract OR the inside of a vanilla bean, scraped

1 tsp. almond extract

Chocolate Orange

2 Tbs. chocolate syrup

1 to 2 tsp. orange extract


2 tsp. hazelnut extract

Chocolate Hazelnut

2 Tbs. chocolate syrup

2 tsp. hazelnut extract

Cinnamon Cake

2 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Salted Caramel

2 to 3 Tbs. caramel ice cream topping

1/2 tsp. salt


Replace milk in base recipe with equal amount of heavy cream

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 tsp. rum extract

1 tsp. ground nutmeg

Toasted Almond

2 tsp. almond extract

In all these recipes, anything that has a dry or thick ingredient (like cinnamon, honey, etc.) should be heated up with a small amount of your milk/cream from the base recipe so it can dissolve properly. Then, add the rest of the milk/cream along with the sweetened condensed milk. If you want really creamy creamer, use heavy cream instead of milk in your base recipe.