Heaven and Earth/Himmel und Erde
I have been searching the web regarding this recipe. There are many different versions of this out there, but this recipe comes from the recipe collection for the Foxfire House in Camp Furnace Hills (near Denver, PA). Foxfire House was built-in the very late 1700’s or early 1800’s. The Girl Scouts now own the house (which is on the National Register of Historic Places). Girl Scout troops may stay a day, a weekend, or, during the summer, girls from all over the nation and world can spend a week living in the house. One of the experiences for the girls is to prepare and eat period recipes. Both times my daughters’ troop have stayed at Foxfire House, we ate this version of Heaven and Earth.
It is German in origin. Heaven is apples, Earth is potatoes. It is typically a side dish rather than a one-pot meal. The story I have been told is that the Hessian soldiers in the area made this recipe. It’s a great meal for fall. The version made at Foxfire House uses butternut squash rather than potatoes. I’ve never had it with potatoes, but I imagine potatoes would not be as interesting in this recipe.
I made this over an open fire in my “backyard” (this can easily be cooked indoors as well-it would take around 45 minutes to cook on the stove). We are blessed to have woods behind our house. One of the first projects I took on was to find a space for a fire circle-our own little “campground.” I found the perfect spot and forged a trail from the yard to the spot. We have already had several perfect evenings to spend around the fire roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. Last Sunday, I spent the afternoon preparing and cooking Heaven and Earth for dinner. An excellent excuse to spend the afternoon outdoors, “relaxing” by the fire.
A few years ago, I asked for and received my favorite cast-iron cooking vessel-a Dutch Oven with a flanged lid. It is a versatile pot to have in one’s supply. It is an oven, a stew pot, a skillet and a griddle. It is easy to care for and clean. I have used it over an open fire and in my grill and oven. With the lid on, heat can be applied not only from below, but also from above.
I also have a tripod for the Dutch Oven. The chain has plenty of links, allowing me to adjust the height of the oven as needed. I don’t have to worry about the heat of the fire since I can raise or lower the oven depending on how much heat I need. The tripod comes in handy for hanging a lantern, too!
For this recipe, you need:
1 pound pork sausage links
1 pound bacon
2 large onions, cut into wedges
3 tbsp packed brown sugar
1 tbsp parsley,
1 to 2 tsp each, sweet marjoram, ground sage and thyme
5 medium apples, peeled, cored and diced
If you are going to cook over an open fire, start the fire a good half hour or so before you are ready to begin cooking. That should be a sufficient amount of time for the wood to burn down into nice, hot coals. You don’t need a blazing fire in order to properly cook over one. In this case, a few small pieces of wood added now and then will do just fine.
Once the fire is ready and the oven is over the fire and preheated, start frying the bacon and the sausage. I fry the meat one at a time. The sausage and the bacon will be sliced into small, bite-size pieces. Set the sliced meats aside to be added to the dish towards the end.
While the bacon and the sausage are cooking, peel and dice the squash. The inside of butternut squash is similar to a neck pumpkin if you have ever cooked one of those (diced and sautéed with butter and brown sugar. Mmm!).
Add the apples and seasonings and mix well.
We had only enough leftovers for a couple of family members to enjoy again the next day. This is really a yummy meal! Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!