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Posts Tagged ‘recipes’

Diary #585

It’s harvest time again, and that means processing fruit!  The heat wave stunted our blackberries and plums, so I only got enough of the former for a few bowls of berries with cream, and enough of the latter to make a plum cobbler and two jars of jam.  But the fruit we did get of both was wonderfully juicy and sweet.  The apples, on the other hand, appear to have done quite well; last week Chekhov gathered a whole cart full of them, and after I culled out the bad ones I still had enough that, after coring, filled the three big bowls you see here plus one of my extra-large stock pots.  After pulping it all fit into the three bowls, and I was able to press about 6 liters of juice from all that.  So I’ve got a carboy fermenting into cider in the dark, cool, under-stair cupboard, and two mason jars of fresh juice in the fridge (well, one now, because the fresh stuff is so much better than store-bought apple juice it’s almost like a different thing).  There are still plenty of apples on the trees, so I plan to keep gathering and pressing until there aren’t, and I hope to get at least two more carboys of cider plus enough to make four to six jars of apple butter; I hadn’t made it before last year, and it came out so well I kicked myself for only doing two jars.  After pressing, we mix the resulting pomace into the feed for Shiloh and Jonathan, but as you can see, Cicero prefers his fresh (and seems quite happy with cores).

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Diary #583

Since Lorelei knew I was coming into town last week, she invited me over for a Who night on Friday, and when I arrived this was what she had waiting for me because she knows I’m very fond of charcuterie with all the trimmings, especially for a TV-watching date.  Look at how gorgeous this is; I told her at the time it was almost too pretty to eat.  Emphasis on the “almost” there, because eat it we did, nearly every morsel.  The drinks, by the by, are our signature Who cocktails; mine (left) is a Sonic Scewdriver (a screwdriver made with our favorite cinnamon-sugar flavored vodka) and hers is an Ass-kicking Amy Pond (like a Moscow Mule but made with our favorite vodka and blood orange-flavored ginger beer).  We don’t get to do our Who nights as often as we used to, but we still do them as often as possible.  And occasions like that are made extra-nice when the person one is sharing them with does something like this to say, “I love you and you are important to me.”

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I can’t even breathe.  –  Kyle Vinson

The subject of this week’s obit was a member of that very exclusive club: people who had songs written about them.  So here it is.  The links above the video were provided by Dan Savage, Franklin Harris, Clarissa, Jesse Walker, Lenore Skenazy, Mike Siegel, and Cop Crisis, in that order.

From the Archives

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Diary #544

It’s always satisfying when one does something for the first time and it goes without a hitch.  When it came time to press my apples for juice, I knew I wanted to ferment most of it into cider so it would keep longer.  But when I tried to locate the instructions for doing so online, I discovered a lot of websites advising me to wash off all of my apples’ natural yeasts and introduce champagne yeast instead.  Given that people were making cider for millennia before fancy packaged yeast became commercially available, I knew that this was both overcomplicated and plain wrong.  So I kept searching and eventually found a site written by a woman with a small backyard orchard who gave me what I was looking for:  yes, there are already sufficient yeasts on the skin of raw apples to cause fermentation.  So after pressing my crop into juice, I simply filtered the debris out and put the juice into a clean glass carboy (like the one in the picture), put in a stopper fitted with an air lock, and placed it in the cool, dark pantry under the stairs.  The air lock allows the carbon dioxide produced by fermentation to escape without letting air in, and as the alcohol content of the cider increased it killed off any other bacteria that might be present.  After nearly two months, I decided on Thanksgiving that it was time to check out the results; since the foam seemed to have died down, I filtered the cider through cheesecloth to remove the top foam and precipitates, and transferred the result into a clean carboy.  The result?  A perfect balance of sweet and tart, with an alcohol content so smooth it didn’t even make my nose wrinkle up.  I had a big glass with my Thanksgiving dinner, and another the next day with leftovers; there is still some slight fermentation going on, because there’s a satisfying hiss of escaping gas when I unscrew the top.  My family likes it so much, I’m afraid it won’t last long.  But I bought a set of four carboys, so next year I’ll gather a lot more apples and make four times as much!

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Diary #537

I think I’m just about done processing apples for the year. There’s a gallon carboy of cider fermenting out in the garage, and three jars each of apple jelly and apple butter in the larder. That does not count the open jars in the refrigerator; when I make jam or jelly I put all of what’s in the pot into jars, even if the last one isn’t full enough to form a proper vacuum once they cool.  I then open the underfull jar the next day so we can sample the contents.  This way, I not only avoid waste, but also test the product to make sure it’s up to snuff.  Next year, I’d like to make about twice as much; considering that we should be finished the bathhouse project well before next harvest season, I think that’s doable.  See, the limiting factor isn’t really the amount of fruit, but rather the time and effort it takes to pick it, sort it, prepare it (pitting plums, coring apples, juicing, etc), and prepare the preserves.  Next year, I should even have enough fruit and time to do mincemeat.  And even though the pectin I extracted performed perfectly, I think next year I’ll just buy it; it was a lot of effort for just enough pectin to make 31/2 jars of apple jelly, and the animals seemed less enthusistic about eating the pomace which had been boiled than that which had merely been juiced.

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Diary #532

It’s been years since I made jam; I believe the last time was in 2013, because the year after that I was on tour all summer, then in 2015 I moved to Seattle.  But we had a bumper crop of plums and blackberries, and the apples are almost ripe as well; Jae picked a big basket of plums last week, and even after making two huge plum cobblers I had plenty left.  So on Thursday I made plum jam, then on Friday blackberry, and both came out perfectly!  I have to admit I was a bit daunted; I like making jam, but it’s a lot of work, and, as I said, it has been a while.  But it was a lot easier this time than it was in Oklahoma, for several reasons.  First, Jae picked and pitted the plums for me, and she and a visiting friend picked the blackberries.  Second, I have an electronic cooking thermometer now, which makes monitoring the jam mixture’s temperature much less of a hassle.  And speaking of heat, the Washington coast in September is dramatically cooler than southeast Oklahoma in June, so I wasn’t stuck in a sweltering kitchen while working.  Today I’m going back to Seattle and I’m going to visit the gent I call Dr. Quest this weekend.  But on Monday I’ll be back at Sunset, and soon I’ll be using our apples to make apple cider, apple jelly, apple butter, mince meat, and other lovely treats.

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I’ve always been dedicated to the idea of this as the time of year for spooky fun.  So every year I collect all the spooky, creepy or scary links and other content from the previous year into one place just before Halloween.  If you’ve come to my blog in the past year, or don’t remember previous editions, they are “Trick or Treat”, “More Trick or Treat“, “Tricks and Treats“, “This Trick’s a Treat”, “Tricky Treats“, and “A Trickle of Treats” (because I also love wordplay).  Horror, death or Halloween-themed columns of the past year include “Eros and Thanatos“, “Not Your Costume?“, “Its Own Reward“, “Frozen Smoke“, “The Science of Sin“, and the short story “Wheels“; there are creepy or spooky-fun videos in Links #433, #435, #445, and #447; and here’s a collection of spooky or Halloweeny links:

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Diary #449

I haven’t made gumbo for a long time, and because it used to be the centerpiece of my Imbolc feast I decided to go out to Sunset over the weekend and make some.  I remembered to order the andouille from my favorite supplier, Bailey’s in LaPlace, Louisiana, on Monday so it would be sure to arrive on time, and prepped the chicken on Wednesday (see my gumbo recipe, linked above) so on Saturday all I had to do was chop up the sausage & onions, make the roux, combine the ingredients and wait.  Well, I also had to make potato salad, which many Louisianians (including Grace) enjoy plopped down right in the middle of the gumbo.  I did share my potato salad recipe on Radley Balko’s old Agitator blog years ago, but since that, sadly, is no more, here it is again: cook as many peeled potatoes as you like until soft, and hard-boil one egg per potato. I use small russet potatoes; you don’t want too little egg in proportion to potato.  Crush the eggs with a fork as one would for egg salad, then add the potatoes and mash it together with a potato masher.  Add 1 heaping tablespoon of mayonnaise per potato, then one heaping tablespoon of prepared mustard per two potatoes, then one heaping tablespoon of pickle relish (I use sweet relish) per two potatoes.  You are going to have to fiddle with the proportions a little to get it the way you like it; I usually end up adding more mustard.  You’ll note that south Louisiana style potato salad is much creamier than the styles from other parts of the country, which use much less thoroughly-cooked potatoes for a chunkier texture.  Oh, and most down there like it cold, though some (including a couple of my sisters) prefer it soon after it’s made, while it’s still warm.  Speaking of cold, I headed back to Seattle on Sunday, a day earlier than planned, due to the snow; Seattle drivers in snow are as stupid and dangerous as Los Angeles drivers in rain, and I had no desire to see the effects multiplied by an overnight freeze.

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Diary #422

As you may have already guessed from this picture, my chickens have begun to lay!  And not just a few measly pullet eggs, oh no; they all seem to have started laying simultaneously and at full adult rate!  Nor are the eggs all tiny; though some are small, others are normal-sized and one of them is consistently laying big double-yolk eggs!  Those are noticeably larger, which is how I managed to get two of them into my skillet at the same time; for those interested in such things, these went onto a nice piece of sourdough bread, topped with two slices of cheese, two strips of crispy bacon and another slice of bread.  Such are the simple, homely meals I prepare for myself when I’m alone; they make a nice contrast to restaurant meals I share with friends or clients.  I’m learning to enjoy my time alone much more than I did in the past; I’ve even managed to figure out a work schedule that neither overwhelms me nor triggers my inner nun to start shaking a ruler at me and calling me a “lazy creature”.  But anyway, back to Sunset: the new (smaller & more fuel efficient) pickup Grace put together is out of the shop & ready to run, and I bought a new chainsaw & brush cutter so Chekhov can extend the animal fence to take in a dense brush patch on the east side of my property.  By the time you read this Grace should be digging new French drains in preparation for repairing the floor, and soon we’ll be opening up another protected chicken yard.  And this autumn, I’ll have some lovely pictures of fresh apples from my trees.

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Als Gregor Samsa eines Morgens aus unruhigen Träumen erwachte, fand er sich in seinem Bett zu einem ungeheueren Ungeziefer verwandelt.  –  Franz Kafka

Even though it’s in German, I think you’ll appreciate this short animation of Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” provided by Ed Krayewski (or else you won’t).  The links above it were contributed by Nun YaScott GreenfieldWWAVMike Siegel,  Brooke Magnanti, and Michael Whiteacre (in that order).

From the Archives

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