Monday, October 24, 2011

What the heck do I do with....All these Apples????

How 'bout them apples??? and lots of 'em!!!

For a shaky growing season with hail, Irene and tons of rain, the apples here in MA are superb! It's truly a delicious season. We went apple picking last weekend and brought home tons of apples (that's on top of the apples that I already had from my CSAs)....
I made an apple pie last week and then over this weekend, I made a big pot of apple sauce.
I used a vegan store bought crust for the apple pie. The filling consisted of a blend of Cortlands, Ida Reds, Empires and Macouns (my favorite)....peeled, cored and sliced thin, I mixed them with a bit of unrefined cane sugar, maple syrup, lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla, whole wheat pastry flour to bind the juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, pinch sea salt and dotted it with Earth Balance vegan buttery spread. I brushed the top crust with a mix of almond juice and maple syrup and did a very light sanding w.unrefined cane sugar. Yum, a success!

But what I really wanted to talk about today is apple sauce and how easy it is to make at home, as well as how much more delicious home made apple sauce is than any store bought version.
I used about 1/2 peck, which is about 15 apples give or take a couple. Again, peel, core and this time cut into dice. I used the same mix of apples as the pie and used almost the same ingredients as the apple pie filling. Here are rough estimates:
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4-1/2 cup maple syrup (Grade B)
pinch sea salt
2 TBS vanilla powder (if you don't have vanilla powder, use vanilla extract)
2 TBS cinnamon (or more if you'd like :) )
1 cup water
Combine all of the ingredients on the stove over medium heat, cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer. Stir occasionally. After about 10-15 minutes, remove cover and allow to simmer w.cover off. It will begin to thicken up as the apples break down. After about 30 minutes, use a potato masher to mash the apples up to the consistency that you like.
That's it.
So easy.
Other than some putchkie work to peel, core and cut the apples, it's hands free, and the rewards are great.

So please consider going to get some local apples and make some homemade apple will be very glad you did.

Friday, October 7, 2011

CSA Round up

I have to say that this season has been one of my favorite CSA seasons. The combo of the small share from Stillman's and the every other week share from Newton Community Farm has worked out wonderfully; I managed the amount of produce very well, and I'm proud to say that I wasted very little.
Both farms have had their hard times with the weather this season, but both have produced amazing produce none the less....the past few weeks have given me crazy good broccoli, eggplant, potatoes, cauliflower, peppers (hot and sweet), greens (kale), celery, carrots, onions, apples, pears, plums, Concord grapes, and mixed herbs....gone are the pounds of tomatoes and ears of corn, but they were great while they lasted :)...enter in the beautiful winter squashes and I know fall is here.
It's a sad time of year for me because I know that soon, my weekly stock ups of local produce will come to a stop, and I'll have to shuffle back to (corporate) Whole Foods and surrender most of my (hard) earned dollars...sigh......oh well, but I digress....

What have I been making?

Sauce! With all the loverly tomatoes, I decided to make some sauce. I bolstered the protein by adding in some tofu as well. It created a creamy sauce, that was flavored with 2 things, garlic and basil.

I made some pasta and dressed with with the sauce, some hemp seeds, nutritional yeast and some green chard....mmmm...that's late summer in a bowl right there.....

With some of the sweet and hot peppers, onions and garlic, I did a quick plantain and Vaquero bean stew in my pressure cooker.
I've posted about Vaquero beans before, from Rancho Gordo, an amazing store out of Napa that is dedicated to saving heirloom bean as well as other cool ingredients like chile peppers and ancient grains from South America.
A big handful of cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice finished off the dish.

From our own garden, we've harvested a bunch of butternut squash, kabocha and pumpkin. I used a couple of the butternuts to make a hearty Lentil, Butternut and Kale soup; I also included a sweet potato in the was filling and delicious...

About once a week, I've been making 2 big sheet pans of roasted veggies. The possibilities are endless with roasted veggies...I've been using eggplants, sweet potatoes, new potatoes, summer squash, winter squash, red peppers, onions, shallots, broccoli, cauliflower, get the idea.....for added protein, I like to add in chickpeas as well. All you do is chop the veggies into similar size dice, mix with some olive oil, S+P and fresh (or dried) herb of choice...roast at 425 degrees until caramelized....That's it...I eat the roasted veggies straight up, or as a topping for a grain or pasta. Here's some Brussels sprouts (yes, they grow on a stalk) that I used along with cauliflower, romanesco, chickpeas and shallots to roast...And have you heard of romanesco? It's a cross between broccoli and cauliflower and visually it's a beautiful veggie, looking like a mathematical fractile.

Here's a tray with sweet potato, broccoli, summer squash, eggplant, red onion and thyme.

From the fruit portion of my CSA from the Newton Community Farm, I've been getting the sweetest Concord grapes which I have been juicing...check out how purple the juice is...bursting with anthocyanins!!
From Stillman's farm, I bought a chunk of some wild Hen of the Woods mushroom, and sauteed it with shallots and thyme.

Lastly, I'll leave you with this was a great CSA season and I'm sad to see it end...