Sunday, September 21, 2008

canning sundays

The last of the Apple Farm apples (and pears) made their way into a pear-apple chutney today after a lazy Sunday spent walking on Ocean Beach with the dogs.

Finally checked out my closest convenient local farmers market, on Divis near Alamo Square. It was tiny, but they did have some organic growers, a flower guy, some boutique olives and spreads, and a bread stand. I came home with some extremely aromatic basil, tomatoes, snapdragons and poblano peppers. The basil (and tomato) made their way into basil simple syrup and into bruschetta as part of an improptu dinner with chicken salad. As much as I adore the big markets, like Berkeley and the FPFM, lately there's a part of me that feels like I really need to get to know my community markets to the extent that my schedule allows. Sometimes I feel like certain growers get this huge rep around town cause their on everybody's menu and every time I automatically nab a peach from this guy or that guy, there's some newer farmer or equally worthy farmer getting ignored because his stuff isn't on the menu at Chez Panisse or wherever. And it's hard because there's so many great farmers, and I'm not about to trip over myself buying hard stone fruit from some random orchard just to go against the grain. There are always products not worth buying (and a particular example sticks heavy in my mind) from the most established and most obscure vendors. I am also ridiculously spoiled in getting my hands on excellent produce. I may not be able to make it to the FPFM Saturday market for some Knoll figs, but I'm eating the occasional fig at I splitting hairs? Am I alone in this issue?

Anyway, after the market, and after the beach, and after a trillion loads of laundry, C convinced me we needed to make the chutney we'd discussed. So she peled and sliced apples and pears while I mised the brown sugar, garlic, lemon, ginger (fresh and crystallized) and golden raisins. Having never made chutney before we were going by a pretty basic recipe. When everything barely fit in the stockpot we added some of the Apple Farm's extremely potent cider vinegar, and a dash of water, and let it cook. We tasted it halfway through for seasoning and added a touch more vinegar and a couple handful more salt but otherwise it was delicious. When the chutney finally cooked down it was this amazing combination of caramelization-sugary and vinegar-spicy that I don't know I've ever appreciated in chutney when it's service temp. Pretty much the first thing I thought was, damn, this would be really good with apricots.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

too many apples

I have so many apples I just don't know what to do. They're a mixture of Gravensteins, Ashmead's Kernels, Pink Pearls and a couple other varieties, all from the Philo Apple Farm. We have already made two separate batches of applesauce. C showed me how she learned to do hers from her Polish relatives, by boiling the apples till tender, then draining and mashing them. At that point, you sugar, season and continue to reduce the sauce. We're planning a pierogi-making fest so we can eat the applesauce with something yummy, dreaming of crazy nontraditional pierogi fillings like caramelized onion-winter squash. Personally I think parsnips would be nice.

My next apple creation was a spiced sour cream cake with sauteed apples that's perfect for breakfast munching. Goodbye to another six or so apples.

That said the bottom drawer in our refrigerator is still packed with apples. We were thinking of making some chutney. I'm sure I could make a tart of pie or even some flaky turnovers.

It did occur to me yesterday that I could just eat the apples. As in, not cook them. Enjoy them raw. What at idea that would be.