Leftover Central

I found a turkey in my freezer a few weeks ago. What? Yeah, that’s right. Our CSA, which although I did love it I’m glad it’s finally finished because we had way too much food, included a rather large turkey right before Thanksgiving last year. Generally, I’d think that was pretty great, because we could use a turkey around Thanksgiving, but we’d already ordered ours since Chris likes his heritage turkeys and the farm we ordered from last time sold out quickly.

That said, I’ve never been one to complain about having too much meat around the house (that’s what she said). The down side with the turkey, however, is that it took up a lot of precious space in that little freezer of ours. So after Christmas I vowed to roast that sucker, and have turkey leftovers for days.

Strangely enough, I’ve never roasted a turkey before. That’s Chris’ job; I make the other fixin’s for the best holiday ever, and he cooks the bird. So I was sorta excited that I got to pick my own recipe, and do my own thing.

Also, I would never get away with stuffing cilantro into a turkey on Thanksgiving, because Chris would promptly say, “that’s not traditional”. What can I say, he likes his traditions; I like my cilantro.

I should state here that I’m aware that posting a turkey recipe in the middle of February might not be the smartest idea, but for two reasons I felt it still post-worthy, and actually rather genius, I might add:

For one, this is easily adapted to chicken, and nothing’s better than tossing a chicken into the oven and roasting it whole for a nice Sunday dinner. Just scale back the ingredients and cooking time, and the deed is done.

And second, if you can get your hands on a turkey this time of year, it’s probably much cheaper than buying it in November, and you can save all the uneaten meat in your freezer for months, resulting in oodles of leftover recipes. This is exactly why I was reminded of this recipe, as I’ve been trying to use up all that stuff in the freezer, and as a result I located a bag of shredded turkey.

Said turkey went a long way, that’s for sure. Mexican turkey soup, turkey salad, a mouth-watering turkey pot pie adapted from a previous recipe that’s been on my mind since I made it and as a result has been my dinner all. week. long, and even some turkey tacos.

Of course, you could just have an impromptu ‘Thanksgiving dinner’ in February, and there’d be not nary a thing wrong with that either.

Apple-Poblano Roasted Turkey
adapted from Cooking Light, November 2010; serves at least 12

time commitment: 3 hours, most of which is inactive

the original recipe included a 24-hour brine, which I’m usually a big fan of, but I skipped it this time and the turkey was plenty juicy and flavorful.

printable version

ingredients
1  (12-pound) organic fresh turkey
1  T  brown sugar
1  t  kosher salt
3/4  t  dried oregano
1/2  t  ground cumin
1/2  t  freshly ground black pepper
1/2  t  ground red pepper
1/4  t  ground coriander
3  Gala apples, quartered and divided
2  poblano chiles, quartered, seeded, and divided
1  c  cilantro leaves
Cooking spray
3  c  water
3  c  fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth, divided
2  T butter
2  c  chopped onion
5  garlic cloves, crushed
1.13  oz  all-purpose flour (about 1/4 cup)
1  c  apple cider
3  T  chopped fresh cilantro
2  T  fresh lime juice

instructions
To prepare turkey, remove giblets and neck from turkey. Trim excess fat. Preheat oven to 500 F.

Pat turkey dry. Starting at neck cavity, loosen skin from breast and drumsticks by inserting fingers, gently pushing between skin and meat. Combine 1 T sugar and next 6 ingredients (through coriander) in a small bowl. Rub spice mixture under loosened skin over flesh. Place 1 apple quarter and 1 poblano quarter in the neck cavity; close skin flap. Arrange 5 apple quarters, 1 poblano quarter, and 1 cup cilantro leaves in the body cavity. Secure legs with kitchen twine. Arrange turkey on the rack of a roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Arrange remaining 6 apple quarters and 6 poblano quarters in bottom of roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Place rack with turkey in pan. Roast at 500 for 30 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 F (do not remove turkey from oven). Place a foil tent over turkey breast. Pour 3 cups water in bottom of pan. Bake turkey at 350 for 40 minutes. Rotate turkey, and baste with 3/4 cup broth. Roast for 30 minutes; rotate turkey. Baste with 3/4 cup broth. Roast 20 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 F. Remove from oven. Place turkey, breast side down, on a jelly-roll pan or cutting board. Let stand, covered, for 30 minutes. Serve breast side up.

Strain pan drippings through a sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté for 5 minutes or until translucent. Stir in chopped garlic; sauté 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup, and level with a knife. Sprinkle flour over onion mixture; saute 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add drippings, remaining 1 1/2 cups broth, and 1 cup apple cider; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until reduced to 3 cups (about 15 minutes). Strain through a sieve over a bowl, and discard solids. Stir in chopped cilantro and lime juice. Carve and serve with gravy.

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Getting Fresh

Now that the big secret’s out, we can get back to this backlog of recipes I’ve been wanting to talk about for ages but wasn’t able to since there’s been about ten thousand things on my mind.

And let there be no doubt, there are still at least 9,000 things on my mind, but nonetheless, enough space has been cleared in my brain where I can talk about food again. Cooking it is another thing, but fortunately I have a pretty big backlog.

I don’t know about you, but one of the first things that comes to my mind when I think of California (my future state of residence!!) is all the fresh food. The words fresh and local will be a little different in the Golden State than here in the Midwest – word on the street is that people grow oranges, and lemons, and maybe even avocados there! I’m hoping real hard to land a place with a lemon tree in the backyard, and if not, you best believe I might plant one myself, even with my horrible track record of growing things.

This is certainly a recipe that should fit well into any season, but it’s usually in January or so when I really crave something light and fresh in between all the stews and chili. Plus, with having a constant meat rotation with the CSA, I find that I need a good excuse to have some fresh fish that isn’t something coming from my freezer. This is a good, easy answer to all of those things.

And I never turn down a taco, or an avocado, or salmon for that matter. All things that make moving to the West Coast even more exciting, if truth be told.

Chipotle-Rubbed Salmon Tacos
Adapted from Food & Wine, March 2010; serves 4

time commitment: ~30 minutes

printable version

ingredients
salsa
1 Granny Smith apple—peeled and small-diced
1/2 cucumber—peeled, seeded, and small-diced
1/2 small red onion, small-diced
1/2 small red bell pepper, small-diced
1 1/2 T champagne vinegar
1 1/2 t sugar
salt

2 T mayonnaise
2 t fresh lime juice
2 t chipotle chile powder
2 t finely grated orange zest
2 t sugar
1 lb skinless wild Alaskan salmon fillet, cut into 4 pieces
1 T plus 1 t extra-virgin olive oil
8 corn tortillas
salt
1 Hass avocado, mashed
zest from 1 lime

instructions
cut up all ingredients for salsa. toss with vinegar, sugar, and salt. can be prepared in advance and refrigerated.

preheat the oven to 350 F. In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the lime juice. In another small bowl, combine the chipotle powder with the orange zest and sugar. Rub each piece of salmon with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and then with the chipotle–orange zest mixture. Let stand for 5 minutes.

Wrap the tortillas in foil and bake for about 8 minutes, until they are softened and heated through.

Meanwhile, heat a grill pan. Season the salmon with salt and grill over high heat until nicely browned and just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.

Break salmon into small chunks. Spread the mashed avocado on the warm tortillas and top with the salmon, and salsa. Drizzle each taco with the lime mayonnaise and serve right away.

Verdammt gut

You may remember (but you probably don’t, or if you did it would be weird) a comment I made a few months ago about Germany. German, to more specific. I considered myself quite the ‘language buff’ in high school and college. For a while, my intended major was business with minors in French and Spanish. I had dreams of being a big-time international businesswoman, racking up miles like George Clooney and living out of hotels with only the best room service, a constant supply of freshly-made cookies, 700-count sheets, and a suite with French doors opening out to the sun each morning.

That lasted approximately 1 semester. I hated economics, I did not like the idea of constant groupwork and presentations using pie charts, and the business building was slam on the other side of campus from my other classes. I liked the language coursework though, and I had full intentions of sticking with those minors until I took that damn genetics class.

I took both Spanish and French in high school, and to be totally honest, they were both easy to me, though it was probably because our classes were full of hoodlums (myself included) who acted up all the time, deterring Señora Williford and Madame Whatever-her-name-was from teaching too much anyway.

For whatever reason, I left the Spanish behind (which I now regret) and continued with French for a couple of semesters at college. Once I challenged myself to take French AND German at the same time. Ballsy, yes; smart, no.

Decidedly, the German language was not for me. I couldn’t get the difference between der and das and the crazy crazy noun inflections; most of all, I couldn’t get anywhere close to sounding German, and when I tried I was too busy laughing at myself (I also would not make a good actress, I know).

The only phrase I could say and know it was right was, “Ich komme aus Bombay” which translates to “I come from Bombay”. Why did I say that?! Who knows – we were told to pick names and countries of origin, so I thought being from India sounded pretty rad for someone in German class. It was short-lived, all of it.

Ironically enough, the Hubs is of 100% German descent, but I didn’t hold that against him when we met. Furthermore, I’d probably consider German food to be my absolute least favorite type of food (at least of what I can think of now). And don’t take that the wrong way – I like German food. Bratwurst? Mustard? Pretzels? Let’s not forget the bier und Rießlingen (beer & Riesling). And when, thanks to the CSA, I found myself with some red cabbage and pork chops, I couldn’t get the German themed combo out of my mind. I knew the cabbage needed a good braise, and both cabbage and pork needed more pork – bacon. It seemed to be a match made in heaven, and it was.

That said, I racked my wee ol’ brain and conjured up one more German phrase to add to the only other one I know: “Dies ist gut. Dies ist verdammt gut.”

Pork Chops with Braised Red Cabbage
Adapted from Gourmet, 2006 via Epicurious.com, serves 4

time commitment: 45 minutes, mostly active time

printable version

ingredients
6 bacon slices, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small red cabbage, halved lengthwise, cored, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 granny smith apple, sliced into thin sticks
1/4 c sherry vinegar
3/4 c water
2 T sugar
1/2 t caraway seeds
1 1/4 t salt
3/4 t black pepper
1 T canola oil
4 (1-inch-thick) bone-in rib pork chops (2 1/2 to 3 lb total)

instructions
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450 F.

Cook bacon in a 4- to 5-quart wide heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, and transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Heat remaining bacon fat over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook onion, stirring occasionally, until it begins to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Add cabbage and apples and turn with tongs until coated with fat. Stir in sherry vinegar, water, sugar, caraway seeds, 3/4 t salt, and 1/4 t pepper and braise cabbage over moderately low heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 25 to 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, pat pork chops dry and sprinkle both sides with remaining salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown seasoned chops, turning over once, 5 minutes total, and transfer to a shallow baking pan (1 inch deep). Roast chops in oven until thermometer inserted horizontally 2 inches into center of a chop (do not touch bone) registers 145 F, 5 to 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir half of bacon into cabbage, then finely chop remaining bacon for sprinkling.

Let chops stand in pan, loosely covered with foil, 5 minutes. Serve chops over cabbage, with any pan juices spooned over and sprinkled with bacon.

No Place Like Home

Visits to North Carolina are quick and to the point, event-driven, and filled with obligation (not that we mind, of course). So much so that we often times forget that NC was at one time home to us, and not just our parents and friends.

A couple of weekends ago, we remembered.


Even though home for now is in Chicago, North Carolina was where I learned to ride a bike, where my feet trudged through the sand and shells every summer of my childhood while looking for sand dollars and conchs, where I fell in and out of love with boys, and where I learned that life is what you make it, wherever you make it. It’s who we make it with that counts.

You reach a point where you think all of your friends are married, and then you reach a point where they all start their own families. We keep realizing that it isn’t as uniform as it seems – they’re still getting married (hence this past trip), they’re still having or not having kids, and sadly some are parting ways – for better or worse isn’t always as easy as it seems, it appears.


Sometimes we realize that we’ve grown apart – perhaps it’s the distance, or the difference in career choices (or lack thereof), or maybe we just mature at different rates (some of us, ahem, more slowly than others). Either way, we’re still friends, and that’s what counts.

I can’t say if we’ll ever live in NC again. Shoot, I can’t even say where we’ll be in two or five or ten years, for that matter. But what I can say is that, while home is wherever we choose to settle down for the time being, North Carolina will always be home-home. It will always be special for that reason and so many more, and we will always look forward to the visits back – even those visits when we say goodbye to someone we love – because it’s those visits that count.

This recent weekend was one of those trips – another wedding, another visit with our respective families, and another drive or two between Raleigh and Greensboro. This time, we stayed until Monday, catching an early flight home just in time for the work week. It’s something I think we’ll make a new tradition, as we found ourselves with an extra day – a “freebie” of sorts.

We finally got to eat at The Pit, a lauded spot for eastern-NC BBQ, and for the first time in 8 years, we wandered through our old campus, reminiscing on things that were the same, all the while remarking about all those that were different. We met up with more of the fam and people-watched at the State Fair while eating fried cookie dough and the best ice cream around – from our alma mater itself. We spent time with some of the kids, who seem to grow in feet rather than inches. I had dinner with friends. We drove past our old apartments, old dormitories, old hang-outs.


We saw Autumn in the South – leaves falling, crackling beneath our feet, reminding us once again, that this – North Carolina – is home-home. There’s no place quite like it, and that’s what counts.

Apple Hand-Pies
chiknpastry recipe, makes 6 pies

time commitment: ~2 hours (most of which is inactive time)
other: dough freezes easily. to use frozen dough, let sit in fridge overnight to thaw.

don’t get me wrong – I love fried treats from the fair, but one can only eat so much in one month, right?! these hand pies are baked instead, but they’re just as charming. the dough makes enough for two pie crusts, so you can save 1/2 of it, or double the filling for double the hand pies. i like the idea of getting another pie dough out of my efforts, so I freeze the other half for later.

the crust is very similar to other crusts I’ve used before, but I swapped out half of the AP flour for spelt flour for a whole grain twist and a nuttier flavor. the shortening has also been reduced a tad.

printable version

ingredients
crust
1 1/4 c all purpose flour
1 1/4 c spelt flour
1 T sugar
3/4 t salt
1 stick (8 T or 1/2 c) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 T (1/4 c) chilled vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
up to 1/2 c ice water

filling
1 large granny smith apple, peeled and chopped into small cubes
3 T agave nectar
1/4 t cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of salt
1 t lemon juice
1 egg, lightly beaten
turbinado, or “raw” sugar, optional

instructions
crust
pulse flours, sugar, and salt in a food processor to blend. Add butter and shortening and pulse repeatedly until small pea-size clumps form. Add 1/2 of ice water and pulse until dough holds together when small pieces are pressed between fingertips, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. (alternatively, this can be done by hand or using a pastry blender, but it’s gonna take longer!) Gather dough together; divide into 2 pieces. Form each piece into ball, then flatten into disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or until needed. (You can keep it in the fridge for 2 days, or even freeze it and let thaw overnight. But, let it sit out for a few minutes to soften before you are ready to roll it out.)

filling
combine all ingredients (apple through lemon juice) for filling. cook over med-hi heat in a small saucepan until some of the liquid dissolves and the apples cook but remain crunchy. remove from heat and cool completely.

assembly
roll out 1 dough disk on floured surface to 12-inch round (as i said above, i freeze the other round for later). using a 4 7/16″ pastry cutter (or whatever size you want, really; can also use a plate if you don’t have a pastry cutter), cut as many disks as possible, then repeat the process by rolling out unused dough until you have 6. you may need to chill the dough again if it gets too warm.

position rack in lower third of oven. measure out a heaping tablespoon onto one side of each round (total amount is somewhere between 1-1.5 T). brush entire edge of each round with beaten egg, fold half of dough over to make a half-moon shape, and press edges together. seal edges using the back of a fork. move to baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

preheat oven to 400. brush entire top of each pie with egg, and sprinkle with raw sugar, if using. bake @400 for 20-25 minutes. remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes before digging in!

An Apple a Day

It seems that Jennifer and I are making an annual tradition out of apple picking in Woodstock, IL. It’s a good outing for a fall Saturday, and an opportune excuse for having some girl time without the constant conversation from the spouses.

Good intentions aside, we never can seem to pick the best weekend to go. Last year, we were completely unprepared for the cold, wet day ahead of us; we learned just how hard it was to pick apples with numb fingers. This year, we left Chicago with optimistic thoughts, both saying this exact sentence: “There’s no way the weather will be worse than last year!” and with good reason – Summer had decided to roll into town for one last hoorah, and we knew that this year the ground was dry, the gloves would stay home (just like they did last year!), and we’d be wearing sunglasses.

What we didn’t realize was that we’d be sweating as well as fighting “the crowds” and the truck carrying multiple groups of fellow pickers around the orchard (as if it’s hard to walk through it, or something). We also didn’t realize that, as opposed to last year’s plethora, this year’s orchard was slim pickin’s, in fact most of the apples were all over the ground.

Despite all of said adversity, we triumphed and each left with a full peck of apples and a little less water weight. If you couldn’t have guessed, we did not seek out any hot apple cider or coffee like we did last time. We did, however, manage to find apple cider slushies, and those were the meal ticket.

Now the question is, what to do with all these apples? My initial inclination was to make caramel apples since I never got around to that last year. But for whatever reason, I’ve had plenty of bad luck with caramel. Come round three, the apples were getting tired of waiting in the fridge and despite the graininess of this attempt at caramel, I dunked those apples into the caramel, let it harden, and didn’t look back.

For some reason, even grainy caramel is tasty, and thank goodness, the apples don’t discriminate.

What are you doing with your apples this year?

Caramel Apples
Adapted from Cooking Light, September 2010; makes 4-8 apples

time commitment: 1 hour, plus time for caramel to harden in fridge

printable version

ingredients
4-8 wooden sticks
4-8 small, firm apples
1 c sugar
1/4 c light corn syrup
1/4 c water
1 c half & half
1 t vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1/2 c peanuts, chopped finely (optional)

instructions
push wooden sticks into top of apple and keep in refrigerator until ready for dipping.

put sugar, corn syrup, and water in large saucepan; boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. boil, without stirring, until it becomes light golden brown (9-10 minutes).

combine half & halff, vanilla, and salt; slowly stir into saucepan. boil until candy thermometer reaches 235 F (30-45 minutes), stirring frequently.

pour caramel into a bowl sitting in a hot water bath. swirl apples in caramel, roll in peanuts (if using), and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

I Am Thankful

7

I am thankful for my sister. She says what she is thankful for every day on facebook. She also likes Meatloaf. And since I enjoy her facebook gig, I’m going to try to catch up with her.

I am thankful for _____.

the guy upstairs pounding down the long hallway and the puppy downstairs yipping through the night.

mullets. Even if you have to drive to a Rush concert in Ohio to see them in the midwest. That don’t make no sense….

good mullet

the drool on my pillow. That means I had some good sleepin’ last night.

my father-in-law, who just had two knees replaced! He is one crazy mo-fo.

my mommy. today is her birthday. she’s getting old younger by the year.

my washing machine, even though it has started to tear my clothes. I will give it the boot soon. Love ‘Black Friday’ deals.

apple pie, with cranberries! If you behave, I’ll post the recipe below…

apple-cranberry pie filling

good wine; I only wish I had barrels of it and not bottles. *sigh*

wine barrels

my friends, some of my favorite people on earth. They also like to eat. A lot.

Thanksgiving 2008

my husband, as he is only very occasionally annoying but usually cute and delightful. Wait… is he trying to take off his wedding ring here? I guess there’s no better time than when you have balloons on your head and are in the midst of the famous “fist dance”…

Chris - New Year's

my cats, who can sleep standing up. that is so cool. and mine has great teeth. see? Thanks, Lindsay, for this lovely picture!

Tangerine

Rock Band. We love you, xbox game. Look how serious we are. Every. Year.

Rock Band 2007Rock Band 2008Rock Band 2009


knife skillz. that first turkey we made in 2004 was a massacre.

bad turkey carving 2004

and last but certainly not least, leftovers. we will eat you up like there’s no tomorrow. we always do.


Thanksgiving 2008 spread

Cranberry-Apple Crumble Pie
Adapted from Gourmet, November 2009; serves 8

printable recipe

You didn’t think I’d leave you with no recipe did you? Sure, Thanksgiving is officially over, BUT that never means that you can’t make more pie. You’re probably running low anyway, right? And this here pie is a great version of apple pie and a great way to use any leftover cranberries. Sweet and tart. That’s my kinda pie.

ingredients
pastry dough
1 1/2 c ap flour
3/4 stick unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 T vegetable shortening, cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3-4 T ice water

crumble topping
3/4 c ap flour
1/4 c packed light brown sugar
1/2 t cinnamon
1/8 t salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 c pecans, coarsely chopped

fruit filling
2 lb mixed apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
8 oz fresh cranberries (or frozen, unthawed)
1/2 c packed light brown sugar
3 T ap flour
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt
2 1/2 T fresh lemon juice
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

instructions
make pastry: blend flour, butter, shortening, and salt into bowl with fingertips or pastry cutter (or by pulsing in a food processor a few times) just until mix resembles coarse meal with some rough clumps. drizzle 3 T ice water and gently stir with a fork until incorporated. squeeze a portion, and if dough doesn’t clump together, add another T water. don’t overwork the dough! turn out dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and gather dough into round disk. cover with wrap and place in fridge for an hour.

make crumble topping: stir together flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in small bowl. blend in butter with fingertips until large clumps form, then stir in pecans. chill until ready to use.

make fruit filling:  stir together apples, cranberries, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and lemon juice in a large bowl.

assemble pie: preheat oven to 425 F with rack in lower third. roll out dough on lightly floured surface with lightly floured rolling pin into a 13-inch round, then fit gently into pie plate. trim edges, leaving a 1/2-inch overhand, then fold and crimp. transfer fruit filling to pie shell. loosely cover with foil and bake until apples droop slightly, about 30 minutes. reduce oven to 375 F. sprinkle crumble topping over filling is bubbling, and apples are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour more. cool completely, 2 to 3 hours.

Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Apples

fresh-picked apples

While it might be a slightly less-tangling tongue-twister than the original, I can attest to the difficulty of the actual task at hand – apple picking. Now on any other day, I might have reacted differently. But two Saturdays ago on a chilly Halloween morning, we were struggling through the bazillions of apple trees at Royal Oak Farm Orchard trying our damndest to fill up our alotted “peck-sized” baggies in the shortest amount of time possible.

Now what’s so bad about apple picking, you might ask? Well nothing, on most occasions. But combine Jennifer’s lifestyle of “playing it by ear” with my lack of preparation and inability to see past the pure excitment of simply going to an apple orchard in the middle of nowhere, and you are left with two girls traveling blindly into the Chicago outer suburbs on a cold, windy day, sans gloves, warm coat, or appropriate mud-sloshing shoes.

gorgeous apple tress



Which correlates to quickly shifting from excitement to downright pain as our hands became more numb with each apple we chunked carelessly into our bags. And while we desperately wanted our bags to magically become full, we were also saddened by the weight of those bags as we attempted to carry them with our hands in our pockets. Needless to say, the bags’ drawstrings eventually became too painful to hang from our elbow creases, and we were left with no option but to carry our bags with one hand vulnerable to the country “breeze” and cold.

Sometimes, we (meaning Jennifer) had to climb up into the trees for the perfect apple. This was before the cold became somewhat unbearble. The higher up in the trees, the more untouched apples loomed over us, snickering all the while as we stared, eyes full of sadness, knowing we would be settling for the apples closer to our coat pockets.

Jennifer climbing for apples



While there were loads of apple varieties, the ones we really wanted were months and months away:

no candy crisps = sad



We saw a few families out for picking, complete with wagons and multiple peck-sized bags. They also donned appropriate clothing – gloves that I specifically imagined myself wrestling a 10 year old to the ground for. But then I realized that, in doing so, I would become clothed in mud – mud that would not only be cold, but also wet and sticky.

I took the “high road” and we managed to fill our bags and stock up on super cheap winter squash (25 cents a pound!) before darting sheepishly into the warm gift shop where apple cider, fudge, and sugared donuts awaited.

making apple sauce


It may not have been the best day to pick apples, but we made the most of it. Through clenched, clattering teeth we laughed (at ourselves, for being so silly and unprepared) and picked until apples were literally toppling out of our bags. And when we arrived back home into the city, dry and warm, we went our separate ways – both wondering what in the world we’d do with all these apples.

homemade apple butter


Homemade Apple Butter
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks; makes ~40 oz

printable recipe



It might look like it takes a long time, and it does, but apple butter is outta this world. It’s a perfect way to use a bunch of apples and a great way to make the house smell scrumptious.

ingredients
4 lbs of apples, unpeeled & uncored, cut into quarters
1/2 gallon of apple cider
~2 c sugar (or less, if desired)
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t cloves
juice of 1 lemon


special equipment
food mill or very fine sieve
canning jars, ~40 oz in volume
large pot for sterilizing jars


instructions
 

  1. Prepare jars by running them through your dishwasher and using heated dry. Keep door closed until you need the jars.
  2. in a heavy pot over med/med-hi heat, add apples and enough apple cider to cover the apples. bring to simmer. skim foam as it appears (but don’t worry too much about getting it all). cook apples until tender throughout, about 20-30 minutes.
  3. take apples out of pot and, in batches, run through a food mill (or fine sieve, but it will take a while using that method) and into a large bowl. after running all apples through, it will look like applesauce – because it is… applesauce.
  4. put applesauce back in large pot over medium heat. bring to simmer (~220 F). while stirring, add in lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, and cloves. continue to simmer over medium/medium-low. continue stirring occasionally and keep mixture around 220 F. it will take 1-2 hours from here. the applesauce will thicken up, darken, and eventually start popping and making bubbly noises. once it’s dark and reduced significantly, remove from heat (it will thicken more after this point as well).
  5. fill your biggest pot with water and bring to a boil. the water will need to cover the jars when placed in the pot.
  6. remove jars from dishwasher and fill apple butter to within 1/4 inch of jar top. wipe rims clean with a dry paper towel and screw lid on tightly. using tongs or jar holder, place jar into boiling water for 10 minutes. take out and let cool completely. over time, you should hear the jars pop which means they are sealed and ready to store!