Archive | October, 2012

More apples!

24 Oct

So, we’re making another batch of applesauce tonight.  To mix with the Winesapp apples we picked up in Rhode Island, I headed to our local orchard (Apple Hill Orchard, to be exact – they are awesome!) to pick up some others.

I had just been there once before in the summer to pick blueberries, so I was not aware of the wonders I was about to see.

Sorry, I didn’t take any pictures.

I’ll let the Google Chat message that I sent to Paul when I got back describe my excitement:
me:  oh man, i got 1/2 bushell of honeycrisps for sauce (it was only $13!!!) and then i filled up a small bag with a mix of all of these fancy apple varieties i’ve never heard of!
i’m eating one and it tastes like an apple pear
:OOOOOOOO
i left the big bag in my car, maybe you can get it when you get in

The “apple pear” apple was a Hudson’s Golden Gem.  Woah.  I am having an apple party.  All alone, right now.

Anyway, that’s all.  I don’t really have much for you right now, other than to let you know that I am moving my blog to a less poop-centric name!  Stay tuned!

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Life Gave Me Apples

22 Oct

Actually, an orchard gave me apples.  Well, actually Paul gave an orchard some money in exchange for apples.  When life just starts handing me apples, well, that will be a standout day.

Last year we made enough applesauce to last us almost a year, even with giving some to family members.  This year, family demand is up and New York State apple production was down.  So we’re going to have to do this in batches.

Batch one: about 15 pounds of apples

Yield: About 4 quarts of unsweetened, chunky, cinnamon applesauce

Canning is one of my favorite things to do.  It’s fun, I’m good at it, and I like having cupboards full of foods that I’ve canned myself.  And applesauce is one of our favorites; we’ll eat it plain by the spoonful, warmed with rice whip on top,  and swirled into oatmeal (my favorite).

This is the recipe I follow, and is by no means a tutorial on canning.  If you want to learn how to can, I suggest picking up a Ball canning book and reading some Cornell Cooperative Extension materials.  Worked for me!

Chunky Unsweetened Applesauce

makes 4 quarts

  • 12 – 15 lbs. apples
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 4 – 6 tsp. cinnamon

1) Prepare your canning jars according to your canning book/other materials.

2) Peel, core, and quarter your apples.  I make this easier by using a hand crank apple peeler, and a handheld apple corer.  You could probably get one piece of machinery to do both operations at once, but I like my method.

 

3) Once all of your apples are prepared, place them in a large saucepan and add enough water to just cover the bottom of the pot.  Cook over medium-high heat, bringing to a boil.  Once boiling, continue cooking until the apples have softened.  Some apples will soften faster than others.  It probably wont take more than 30 minutes.  Stir while the apples are cooking, don’t let them scorch or stick!

4) Blend half of the apple mixture so that it’s velvety smooth.  Mash the other half of the apples so that they’re chunky.  Mix the blended apples back with the mashed ones.

5) Add the lemon juice and cinnamon, and return to a boil.  Let cook for five or so minutes.

6) Ladle the applesauce into prepared canning jars, and process according to what your canning book says (for the quart jars, I did ten minutes at full boil, then let them sit in an uncovered pot with the heat turned off for five minutes before removing from the canner).

7) Keep covered and away from drafts for 24 hours, then check to make sure the seals have set.  If they haven’t transfer to the fridge and eat soon!  This won’t be hard, but I’ve never had a jar not seal.

 

So tasty!

I ate a bowlful when I came in from my afternoon run today.  This was a momentous run.  It was my first one back since I had my arm surgery (I was out for six weeks!), and my run today took me over the 200 mile mark since recovering from my last surgery!  I was pretty amazed that I put in nearly 200 miles between June and September (half marathon training is an amazing thing).

This run was much easier than after my last surgery.  My arms didn’t even hurt afterwards, which was nice!  They feel a little puffy and swollen, but it’s not bad.  My lungs though, they will need adjusting to breathing hard in this crisp fall air!

Eating Other Blogs

18 Oct

I made the most fantastic dinner last night.  But I didn’t come up with the idea myself.  Actually, dinner goodness was thanks to two great blogs: The Vegan Crew and A,B,C, Vegan.

Usually when I see a recipe online, I start thinking about ways to make it different, or better, or how to remove animal products to make it vegan.  But this was perfect – Mushroom Alfredo Sauce with Chik’n and Mushrooms.  I didn’t change a thing, other than using a product other than Beyond Meat because I can’t get that in the backwoods of New Hampshire.  I also threw a little crushed red pepper on top because I like my sweet with spicy.

 

Paul said it was one of the best dinners I’ve ever made.  I agreed!

I want to put this pumpkin alfredo on more things.  I want to eat cauliflower rice more often (our cauliflower is usually mashed).  I want to eat chik’n and mushrooms with spinach.

Thank goodness there are leftovers!

Make this!

Squash, Apples, Wine, Cows

15 Oct

Those are all things that I like a great deal.  Needless to say, I am a very happy girl about now.

This past weekend, Paul and I visited my parents in upstate New York.  We had a very relaxing and fun time with them, and even got a day of sunshine to enjoy things outdoors!

We ventured out on Saturday to find some apples.  Not many orchards are doing pick your own apples this year, due to the low yields.  That was okay though, because my arms aren’t completely healed and I’d be stuck with the low hangers anyway.  So we stopped at a local orchard and purchased about 20 lbs. of apples.  You see, Paul and I make fantastic homemade unsweetened applesauce.  Time to get canning!

My mother wanted to stop at a local bakery, but that ended up being closed for a family wedding.  However, we found two wonderful things as we turned away from the abandoned bakery: so many cows, and a sign pointing us towards a winery.

The winery is called Johnston’s Winery.  We followed painted signs pointing us to a private residence in the middle of nowhere (we were already in the middle of nowhere, this took us a bit more in).  None of us had much hope, but a very nice gentleman showed us into his brewing room and showroom.  He had a number of fruit and grape wines, and I have to say they were some of the best New York wines I’ve had.  Now, I’ve never really been a fan of New York wines to begin with.  Some of them aspire to be too much like Boone’s Farm.  Anyway, we were really surprised, especially with his Chardonnay.  It was delicious and fruity and nothing like Chardonnay wines usually are (I’ve come to decide they usually taste like fermented bath water).  This guy knows his stuff.  He even let us check out his brewing set up!  It was a thing of dreams, really.  We left with a mixed case, which I can’t wait to dig into.  If you’re ever in the Galway/Charlton area of New York, you should check it out.

We stopped on the way back to say hello to the cows.  I sure do love cows.  Now sadly, we were separated by an electric fence that the cows would not get within ten feet of (can’t blame them), so we were just able to trade some moos back and forth.  I have a whole slew of pictures of cows looking at me funny.  But this one was my favorite.  Her attention could not be taken from the grass.  Chew chew chew.

 

Before we left for my parents’ house, I had some squash to cook.  Every fall, I get so excited when all the variety of squashes come out and it’s just mountain of gourds and they all look beautiful and delicious.  One squash I’ve never tried is the weird dinosaur looking one.  Hubbard squash.

Since Hubbards are HUGE, we jumped on the chance to buy just a piece of one.  The whole ones can be a bit intimidating

 

Squash usually does well in soup, so I did some digging around to find some ideas.  I settled on a pinto bean and mixed squash soup.  So thick and beany and squashy!

Pinto Bean and Mixed Squash Soup

adapted from Cooking Light; makes 6 large servings

  • 3 cups dried pinto beans
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 cups chopped onion
  • 4 cups winter squash, chopped 1/2″ (I used Hubbard and Butternut)
  • 1 cup sliced carrot
  • 1 Tbsp. chipotle in adobo, chopped
  • 1 tsp. ground sage
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes (low or no sodium optional)
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. dry roasted pumpkin seeds

1) Prepare beans: place beans in a pot and cover with water so that beans are below 2″ of water.  Let sit for 8 hours.  After beans have soaked, drain them, then place in a pot with 4 cups of water.  Bring beans and water to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, cover the pot and let simmer for another 30 minutes.

2) Meanwhile, prepare your vegetables.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet, and cook the onion, carrots, squash and chipotle until the onions are softened and starting to brown.

3) Add the onion mixture to the beans, then add the thyme, sage, crushed tomatoes, and vodka.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover and cook at a reduced heat for at least ten minutes, but as long as you’d like, making sure that the squash is tender.  Stir occasionally.

4) Ladle the soup into bowls, and garnish with the pumpkin seeds

 

So, in this soup, the Hubbard squash tasted much like the butternut.  The texture was a bit different, maybe a bit more grainy.  I liked it, but because of its bumpy skin, it’s a bitch to peel and chop.  I might just stick with the butternut in the future.  But still, adventure!

Note on the vodka: my boyfriend is a chemist.  He taught me all about esters and how tomatoes react with alcohol to release these wonderful things called esters that make things taste more flavorful and complex.  You can do it with any alcohol, vodka is just a relatively otherwise flavorless booze that you can use with any flavors.  I’d try this again with red wine!

Hey, I’m back! And less of a person!

10 Oct

Hey!  By now, it’s not unusual that I disappear.  But this time it was not for lack of trying!

It’s been four and a half weeks since I had surgery on my arms, and recovery has not been the most fun thing.  The worst part: not being able to cook.  Nope, no lifting heavy pots and pans, no chopping, no stirring.  It has been very sad.

But I’m back, baby!

My arms are healing nicely, and I’ve been doing some cooking.  Not really making any grand experiments in the kitchen, but I have been cooking some other blogger’s food.

On Sunday night, Paul and I had just gotten back from a weekend wedding in Cape Cod/Rhode Island.  It was a very nice wedding, but we were tired.  There was no grocery shopping to be done.  Paul had a cold, and I had arm ouchies.  Hey, but I had everything on hand to make this Crispy Tofu Sandwich with Sweet Potato-Pumpkin Spread, which was delicious.  I don’t even like sandwiches.  I like the idea of them, sure.  But I either feel like I’m eating too much or too little food.  This was a good balance, though.  I made some changes and dry-fried the tofu, and doing a spice rub, along with some other changes.  Oh hell, maybe I’ll play around with it a little more and post about what I did.  That’s the point of a blog, right?

And on Monday, we decided on pizza night.  Usually we make them on whole wheat pitas, but the pita bread we use is high in sodium.  I’m trying to keep my sodium on the lower side, as I’m still having a little swelling from my surgery.  Instead of a salty pita, I opted for a potato!  I used Fat Free Vegan Kitchen’s recipe as a guideline.  Best pizza, maybe ever.  This is totally my go-to pizza crust from now on.  Susan V’s blog is still one of my favorites ever.

Tuesday night I cooked from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s awesome cookbook, Appetite for Reduction.  I made the Tamarind BBQ Tempeh & Sweet Potatoes.  I’ve cooked this before, but it might be my favorite way to make tempeh.

And now, I have a pot of pinto beans cooking away on the stove.  I’ll let you know what I make with them!

As an aside, I’ve been thinking of renaming my blog.  Before it was Poop will never not make me laugh, but it might be keeping my blog from getting non-poop joke attention.  But if I change the name of the blog, will I be lost in a sea of post-hipster vegan bloggers?  I don’t want to be lost at sea.

I’ll think about it.  Until then.  Bean time.