Monthly Archives: August 2010

Making Homemade Applesauce

Last weekend I visited my good friend and her family. When I arrived, she immediately told me to keep my shoes on- we were going out back to see her compost. “I got my compost pile to steam!!!” Of course, this was something I wanted to see. She and I have long been on the same wavelength about the way we want to live our lives. We take immense satisfaction in doing things ourselves- even if it takes a little longer- in order to maximize food enjoyment and minimize our impact on this earth. In high school, we baked together and went berry picking together. We’ve long dreamt about our adjacent farms, complete with chickens for eggs, goats for cheese, vegetables and fruit galore, and and a brick oven for baking bread and pizza. Clearly, her parents have something to do with ingraining this lifestyle in her, because when they got married and purchased their home 30 years ago they planted many fruit trees, which are now thriving. They have lemons, oranges, nashi (kind of like asian pears), persimmons, nectarines, and apples. When I saw the apple tree, I asked what they were planning on making with the apples. My friend said that her parents don’t use the apples because they tend to be very “buggy.” She asked her parents, and they said I could take as many apples as I wanted! Hmmm…..it didn’t take me long to decide I would make my year supply of apple sauce to freeze. So we set out to pick apples, and boy did we pick apples- 17 pounds in all! I also ended up with about 5 lbs each of lemons and nashi. Yum!

For the next 3 days, I was cutting and slicing apples (making sure to cut out any bugs, of course!) and cooking the slices down into applesauce. The recipe is a very simple one- apples, a little lemon juice (to keep the apple slices fresh until you are ready to cook them down) a little water (if the apples seem dry), sugar (if the apples are tart), and cinnamon (if you’re a cinnamon kind of person). Really, all you need are apples. The other ingredients are up to you/the apples. It’s also up to you whether you peel the apples or not. I opted to not peel them, but I did run the sauce through the coarse setting of a food mill to break down the peels a bit after cooking them. Once the sauce was ready, I jarred it, labeled it, and put it in the freezer to be enjoyed throughout the winter and spring.

Oh and in case you’re wondering, 17 lbs of apples ended up filling 12 pint jars, plus several smaller jam jars and a medium-sized tupperware container.

Thanks you Travis’ for all the apples, and the nashi and lemons too!

Advertisements

Steak & Cocozelle Squash Dinner


Yesterday, for the first time, I tried my hand at canning. Tomato sauce, to be specific. I purchased a large amount of organic heirloom tomatoes from a guy who had somehow decided that he needed to plant 40 tomato plants in his backyard this summer. Tomato overload for him=lucky day for me! He gave me a very good price for a beautiful harvest of tomatoes (more on this in a future post). Suffice to say, I was exhausted last night and definitely not in the mood to cook more. So I had Trevor grill some steaks from Prather Ranch (grass-fed beef purchased from the Campbell Farmer’s Market), and I sliced up & sauteed some Cocozelle Squash, which were purchased, along with the tomatoes, from my newest overzealous gardening friend. The beef was a delicious treat, and exactly what we both needed after a hard morning workout for Trevor and a kitchen “workout” for me. The squash, though, was my favorite. I was unfamiliar with this type of squash and O.M.G. it was so scrumptious! I could eat it everyday. For the rest of my life. I’m not sure Trevor would be quite so enthusiastic about it (he doesn’t usually get as excited about vegetables as I do), but lucky for him they’re surely only ridiculously delicious at the peak of their freshness- in the summertime. This brings me to my locavore thought of the day- If you eat what’s in season, you’ll never get bored with any one fruit or vegetable in particular. You might tire of zucchini at the end of a particularly healthy summer harvest, but after abstaining from it for 8+ long months, you will be more than ready to start zucchini overload all over again. So go enjoy the last few weeks of summer produce! Soon I’ll be writing about winter squash, potatoes, kale, beets, spinach and all my other favorite fall produce.

Holy mother of….

CABBAGE??

Picked up the CSA veggies today and we got this HUGE head of cabbage. Actually, looking at this again I don’t feel that the picture does it justice. But really, it’s big. And heavy. And chock-full of vitamin C. I’m not sure yet what this cabbage will end up in, but I’m sure it’ll be tasty. It might not even be in a fraises et tartines creation, since we are now splitting the CSA box with a friend, but nonetheless I’m sure it’ll be tasty (unlike many people, I’m actually a cabbage fan).

Up next…what do you do when life gives you 17 lbs of apples…?

Paella!

Ahh Barcelona…we spent some time there last summer and had a marvelous time. If you remember from a previous blog post of mine, we were not lucky in the food department while we were there, but I would give Barcelona another chance in a heartbeat. This time, I would be armed with recommendations from friends who have both visited and lived there. I’m sure we would not be disappointed. One of the mainstays of Catalan cuisine is paella, and I’m fairly certain that paella is to Barcelona what quiche is to France. Each family has their own recipe that differentiates it from others.

A few years ago, my good friend Anton spent a summer in Barcelona. He has many good memories from those few months and often reminisces about his time there, including the delicious paella he ate there! We’ve talked for months about getting together to make paella someday, and finally found the time to do it! He asked his friend from Barcelona for his paella recipe, and he was kind enough to share it with us. It turned out delicious, so I’m sure there will be more paella-making in our future.

Paella:

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups paella rice
  • 1lb canned tomatoes, pureed
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 chicken drumsticks (or whichever part of the chicken you prefer)
  • 1/2 lb calamari
  • 1/2 lb cuttlefish (or octopus, or if you can’t find this, add an extra 1/2 lb calamari)
  • 1 lb mussels
  • 1/2 lb clams
  • 8 prawns, deveined
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • a few pinches of saffron
  • 1.5 L water

Directions:
1. Boil a small amount of water in a medium-sized pot. Clean the muscles and the clams, then put them in boiling water until they open. Drain the water and set them aside for later.

Cleaned mussels & clams

2. In a large dutch oven boil the 1.5 L of water.
3. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add some olive oil and fry the chicken drumsticks until they are golden on all sides.

4. Add the chicken to the boiling water.

5. In the same olive oil you used to cook the chicken, fry the cleaned cuttlefish and calamari. When cooked add them to the boiling water with the chicken.

6. Add a little more olive oil to the frying pan and cook the bell pepper until softened. Once bell pepper is cooked, transfer it to a bowl and set aside.

7. Use the same frying pan to cook the prawns. Cook for one minute on each side and add them to the bowl with the bell pepper.

8. In the same pan, cook the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the bell peppers and prawns to the onions and pour in the tomato puree. Cook until the tomato puree thickens.

9. Add the tomato mixture to the boiling water. If you have a paella pan (which I didn’t when making this), add everything from the dutch oven to the paella pan. When it starts boiling add the rice and the saffron. Mix in shellfish. Stir and allow to cook for at least 15 minutes (or until rice is done). Remove from heat and cover with foil for 5 minutes before serving.


Que aproveche!! Enjoy!

Summer Beet, Heirloom Tomato, Goat Cheese Salad


This simple summer salad was inspired by the bounty of our CSA and the farmer’s market. Once again, summer has supplied us with amazingly fresh and flavorful food. When you have such good ingredients, you don’t have to do much (or anything) to them to make them taste good. This salad was nothing to put together, but Trevor and I absolutely enjoyed it to the last bite. You can follow my recipe, or head out to the farmer’s market this morning and see what inspires you! Let me know what you come up with!

Summer Beet, Heirloom Tomato, Goat Cheese Salad

Ingredients:
4 small beets
1 medium heirloom tomato
4 cups fresh baby spinach
2 oz soft goat cheese
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
a few splashes of walnut vinegar
salt/pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place beets in an oven-safe heavy bottom pot (like a dutch oven, or roasting pan with a lid). Lightly coat the beets in olive oil. Cook beets for about 40-50 minutes, until you can easily stick the tip of a sharp knife in them.
  2. As soon as you can handle them, peel the beets. One trick I learned from my mom for peeling beets is to use a dry paper towel to push the beet peel off. It’s surprising, but really works and is much easier and faster than peeling them with a knife!
  3. Cut the beets into thin slices. While they are still warm, cover them with red wine vinegar. While the beets soak in some vinegar, prepare the other ingredients.
  4. Divide spinach onto 2 plates. Slice goat cheese into “coins” (as best you can, perfection is not essential here). Cut the tomato into wedges.
  5. Arrange the beets on the spinach, top with goat cheese and tomatoes. Drizzle with walnut oil and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve immediately.