Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Little Less Steam

I'm starting to get distracted by the impending end to summer. I am simultaneously wanting to pack in as much "play" as I can before summer turns to fall, while also wanting to put away foods to savor during the winter. I struck a good balance last weekend between time spent in and out of the kitchen. I whittled down my to-make list to a more reasonable size and just tackled those items. Adjusting my preserving goals meant I had time away from the kitchen for yarn shopping, a picnic in the park with a friend and her little ones, a bike ride and a lunch out with a new friend. Ah, summer!

I found an apple tree on a foreclosed lot in my neighborhood. The apples have been falling and rotting on the ground. Whenever I passed by they called to me! I have been monitoring the tree for a while, grabbing an apple each time I took Jack on a walk. I planned to go get some of them when the time was right. When swap friend Holly offered to let me use her peeling, coring, slicing doo dad, I said YES, PLEASE! Jack and I headed over to the tree early one morning. While I picked apples and sipped my tea, Jack ate his share of the fallen apples. A few of the neighbors saw us but nobody said a thing! Phew!

The peeling, coring, slicing mechanism rocked my world. It is so effective! I immediately went online and bought one for myself after using Holly's. I foresee many more apple desserts in my future.

I made dried apple rings and a batch of apples preserves with the apples.

I may go back for some more apples so I can make applesauce later. I have a food mill I have yet to use and I hear they are great for applesauce making.

When I saw this Bourbon Brown Sugar Mustard recipe on Food in Jars, I was intrigued. Paul and I have been rather smitten with interesting condiments lately and he loves bourbon, so I gave it a go. I haven't ate much of it yet, but I had a taste and this stuff has a serious kick!

FYI, if you want to make this, beware that the mustard seeds are hard to grind. The recipe said to use the food processor to puree them, but all my food processor did was whirl them around and around. I ended up having to be really aggressive with my immersion blender to break them up and the mustard still ended up pretty grainy.

Another batch of dried tomatoes went in and out of the dehydrator. This batch was sprinkled with applewood smoked sea salt for a little extra interest. I think these are destined for the next MPLS Swappers food swap. They are such pretty little gems in a jar. Plus, the flavor is concentrated and so thoroughly tomato.

I've been hearing great things about freezing cherry tomatoes whole, so I did a tray of those, too. I hadn't harvested my tomatoes in a while, so when I went out to pick them, I got a mixing bowl full! I like that kind of wealth.

Our ginger syrup bottle was due for a refill. We like that stuff a lot at our house. To make the syrup, I combine equal parts water, sugar and chunks of ginger in a saucepan.

I let it boil for a bit, until it starts to thicken a little. Then, I remove it from the heat and let the ginger steep in the syrup until it comes to room temp. A quick strain and into the bottle it goes.

My dad harvested the first of the pie pumpkins and had me test them out to see if they are done. Does anyone know the trick about how to tell if they are ripe? I have begun the process of baking, portioning and freezing them (2 cups per bag). I went through the pumpkin I froze last year really quickly, so I will put more of it away this year.

I better get some knitting up on this blog soon or else I might have to change the name of it! Luckily I finished a sweater a few weeks back and some of the recent cooler days have sparked my interest to pick up the needles again.

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