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Virginia farm products spice up holiday meals

RICHMOND—From peanuts in the southeastern part of the state to apples in the Roanoke valley, potatoes on the Eastern Shore and broccoli in the southwest, Virginia is full of culinary bounty.

So there’s probably a Virginia product for every taste and holiday table.

Research by Virginia Cooperative Extension found that consumers would invest an additional $1.65 billion into the local economy if each Virginia household spent $10 a week on locally grown agricultural products.

“A Virginia ham alongside Virginia sweet potatoes and greens, followed with a peanut pie, would make a classic commonwealth meal,” said Tony Banks, a Virginia Farm Bureau Federation commodity marketing specialist. “Virginia farmers grow such a wide variety of products that it only makes sense to support them—at the holidays and anytime.”

Another holiday option is an easy slow-cooker dessert made with Virginia apples.

This dessert from Kendra Bailey Morris’ not-yet-released cookbook The Southern Slow Cooker: Big-Flavor, Low-Fuss Recipes for Comfort Food Classic is easy and “makes your house smell amazing,” Morris said.

Apples stuffed with cinnamon, raisins and walnuts are covered with a ginger ale and maple syrup sauce and baked for about 6 hours. Morris recommends topping the apples with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream.

Slow Cooker Apples with Ginger Ale and Maple Syrup


4 large or 6 medium cooking apples such as Braeburn, Rome or Granny Smith
6 teaspoons raisins
6 teaspoons chopped walnuts
6 tablespoons brown sugar (can be adjusted, depending on the sweetness and type of apples)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup ginger ale
2 tablespoons maple syrup


Core each apple almost through to the bottom. Spray the inside of the slow cooker with cooking spray, and place apples cored-side-up inside the cooker.

Stuff each apple with equal parts raisins and walnuts. Mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Take 2 teaspoons of the cinnamon sugar mixture, and sprinkle it over and inside the apples. Pour the ginger ale and maple syrup into the bowl with the remaining cinnamon sugar, and stir well. Pour the liquid over the apples, cover and cook for 5-6 hours on low. During the last couple of hours, baste the apples a few times. The liquid should be syrupy. If it’s too watery, turn the slow cooker up to high, and set the lid ajar to allow some of the moisture to escape.

Serve apples in dessert bowls.

Contact Banks at 804-290-1114.


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