Archive for September, 2008

Harvest time

September 24, 2008

Today there is a plethora of late season tomatoes, hot peppers, garlic, and all the root veggies you could ever want. I highly recommend purchasing a small half pint of mixed hot peppers from any vendor. When you get home, using a needle and thread, string the peppers onto a thread and hang in your kitchen to dry. Use them all winter.

Or just pop them into the freezer. The cold will cause the water to expand, and the celluar walls of the peppers to burst. When stew time comes around, just put a whole pepper, frozen, into your stew pot. It will slowly unfreeze and all the myriad flavors of pepper -not just the heat – citrus and earth tones, crisp green, and all, will leach into your stew with no pepper bits to get caught in your teeth. Exceptional for soups as well.

THere are still peaches! A mild and long growing season this year!

By the way, did you pick up your copy of the Joy of Pickling yet? Because there’s a great recipe in there for pickled Fairytale eggplants (which are in abundance in the market today) stuffed with garlic (market) and preserved in a spicy hot pepper/vinegar brine (hot peppers everywhere today). Really folks, they are just marvelous. You should buy the book and make some for yourself. Bring them to a friends house, or have a cocktail party. So good!

~baconbit

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Harvest

September 22, 2008

It’s harvest season at the market. Looking around today, all I could think was how grateful I am for the cooler weather, and how it means it’s time to roast squashes, potatoes, and all manner of beautiful root veggies. Stews are starting to call to me as well! Just go shopping today and let the veggies guide you.

I won’t be cooking tonight, as it is Mr.Bit’s birthday today – a big “Happy Birthday” to my beloved! We’re going out! But tomorrow we’ll be having heirloom cranberry beans with turnips, turnip greens, carrots, and onions sauteed either in bacon or duck fat, all served over rice.
Have a marvelous day!
~baconbit

Golden Raspberries!

September 19, 2008

Its the end of the season for these lovely raspberries at Norwich Meadows Farm. They are a bit costly ($5) but SO worth it! Extremely flavorful! Treat yourself!

Pickled Peaches, redux

September 19, 2008

Today at the market, I saw signs that said this was the last week for peaches. I’ve managed to download my pics, and have brought this one to inspire your own pickled peach adventures before the season ends. Go forth, and PICKLE!

Even though its not Wednesday, I think it’s important for everyone  to see the GIANT MAITAKE that was at Honey Hollow Farm earlier this week:

Apparently it was larger than this. It was originally 16lbs, and this point they had sold a couple of pounds worth.

Incredible!!!

I saw three colors of cauliflower today. And Wild Hive has 10 grain hot breakfast cereal. Will report on it’s deliciousness next week!

Have a great weekend all.

~baconbit

Pickled Fruit

September 17, 2008

OK, first of all, I actually took some photos this time, but due to iPhoto being uncooperative at this time (I’m redownloading it), I won’t be posting them just yet.

Honey Hollow had the biggest mushroom I’d ever seen – a 16 lb hen-of-the-woods (maitake) mushroom. It was glorious. It is also my favorite. I only bought a little bit of it. YUM.

But that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk to you about fruit, and pickles, and pickled fruit. See, we’re headed for the end of the season soon, and soon there will be no fresh local fruit to be had. We can freeze our fruit, and it is delicious. But we can also pickle it – which is also delicious, if no longer common.

There was time when people at a LOT of pickles, and they still do. In fact, we still do though we don’t recognize them as pickles. Ketchup? It’s a pickled condiment that can be made of many other things other than tomatoes – oranges, walnuts, plums. Chutney? A kind of pickle! But you don’t have to buy it jars at an ethnic food market – you can make it at home very easily.

And fruit. Oh…. pickled fruit. It sounds weird I know, but the following recipes – both from Linda Ziedrich’s “The Joy of Pickling” hit the flavor spot that balances just between sweet and savory. You can serve pickled fruit as an accompaniment to roasted meats, or over ice cream for a sweet/sour treat.

I swear, I never used to be pickle crazy. And in some ways I’m not – cucumber pickles are OK, but I don’t crave them. Homemade pickles are a different story. Homemade pickled beets are amazing and flavorful and intense. The pickled pears? I could eat a quart in one sitting.

I strongly encourage people to run out and get this book. It’s one for the ages.

You’ll need a few things though. Namely, you are going to need pint, or quart, mason jars. I saw them being sold by the dozen at the Broadway Panhandler on 8th street near University Avenue in Manhattan, so that’s the first thing.

The second thing is to not get scared. This is the beginners form of canning, OK? You are going to use what is called the “Hot Pack Method” for canning these suckers. You will not get botulism and die. OK? Pickle juice is extremely acid, and has a LOT of sugar, and the likelyhood of you getting sick is VERY low, because you are going to be packing boiling syrup into jars that have been sterilized in the oven at and are 250 degrees F hot, and capped with metal caps that are 212 degrees. IT WILL BE OK. I’ve done this for a number of years now, and am still alive. If I weren’t, the fact of this blog post would be extremely impressive!

THE HOT PACK METHOD:
1. Wash your jars.
2. Put the jars, mouth UP, on a cookie sheet or roasting pan. They can be damp.
3. Put the cookie sheet & jars into a COLD oven
4. Close oven door. Turn oven on to 250 degrees F.
5. Boil a pot of water.
6. 10 minutes before you need them, put the lids of the jars (and the rings) into the boiling water. Cover the pot and turn off heat.
7. When ready to jar your pickles in boiling syrup, take out the jars. Keep them on the sheet/pan for easy handling. Put them right next to your pot of boiling hot stuff.
8. Put your boiling hot stuff into the extremely hot jars.
9. When they are full, but still have about 1/4″ space at top, take a chopstick and give a quick swirl to release any trapped air bubbles among your fruit/chunks.
10. Put a lid from the boiling hot water bath on each jar.
11. Put a ring on and screw down the lids.
12. Place jars somewhere they can cool down slowly. I like to use a cookie rack so there’s a bit of airflow under there.
13. Be patient. Eventually you’ll hear “POP”, and you’ll know that a vacuum seal has been achieved. If none of your jars seal, or if a couple of jars don’t seal, that’s OK. Still usable! Just store them in the ‘fridge instead of the pantry 🙂
14. Label. Eat in winter when you miss summer most of all.

OK. Now that we have that out of the way, lemme tell you, this week is the week to get both peaches, and tiny, sweet, Seckel pears. I like to pickle the peaches in quarters, but the pears whole.

PICKLED PEACHES
1 3″ cinnamon stick, broken OR 1tsp cardomom & 1 tsp. black pepper (my change)
1 tsp. blade mace
1″ piece of fresh ginger, sliced thin
1 tsp. allspice berries (whole)
1/2 tsp whole cloves

3 cups sugar
2.5 cups water
3.5 cups white wine vinegar
4 lbs ripe & firm peaches

1. Boil a big vat of water. Blanch peaches for 1 minute, and then plunge into a sink of cold water. This will make peeling the peaches much easier.
2. Peel peaches, and quarter them. Put them in a bowl of cold water & a splash of vinegar to keep from browning.
3. In a nonreactive pot (like stainless steel – NO ALUMINIUM), put the spices, sugar, water & vinegar. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
4. Reduce heat & simmer for about 10 minutes.
5. Add peaches. Simmer for a few minutes (about 5 should do it) until they are heated through and *just* tender. You don’t want them to fall apart!
6. Remove peaches with a slotted spoon and pack them into the hot jars.
7. Boil syrup so that it thickens a bit. About 8 minutes. NOTE: I had WAY more syrup than peaches. That is OK!
8. Pour hot syrup & spices over peaches leaving a 1/4″ of headspace. Seal jars with hot 2 piece caps.
9. Store jars in a cool, dark place, for at least one month before eating.

PICKLED PEARS
For these, I like to peel the pears and pickle them whole. Then I can grab them by the stem and pop the whole thing in my mouth, sucking off the flesh and leaving the core behind. It’s awfully fun! These are exceptionally good served alongside roasted pork, in the depth of winter. They are also incredible to bring to Thanksgiving Dinner. Very impressive, and very beautiful in their jar!

The Seckel pears are small and a pain in the ass to peel – but it is SO worth it! Keep from browning by putting peeled pears in water with a splash of vinegar.

Four 3″ cinnamon sticks
2 tablespoons whole cloves
1″ piece of fresh ginger, sliced thin
3 cups water
2 cups white wine vinegar (cider is great too!)
4 cups sugar
6 lbs of peeled Seckel pears ($1.50 a lb at the greenmarket)

1. Combine spices, water, vinegar & sugar in a nonreactive pot.
2. Bring to a boil & stir to dissolve sugar, then reduce the heat. Simmer syrup for 5 minutes minimum, but I like to do 10 myself.
3. Add pears and cook gently until just tender. About 5 minutes, but use your judgement. If there isn’t room for all the pears, do them in 2 or 3 batches, transferring the cooked pears to your hot sterile jars.
4. Pour the boiling syrup over the pears leaving 1/4″ headspace. Don’t forget to run a chopstick around to release hidden air bubbles.
5. Cap with hot 2 piece caps.
6. Store in a cool dark place.

Enjoy! And pick up a copy of the book. I’m hoping to do my pears next week (too busy this weekend) along with some pickled beets. Those are fantastic on salads…..

~baconbit

Tamarack Pancietta

September 17, 2008

This is a whole new definition of freezer truck! Today I discovered Pancietta at Tamarack… a lovely alternative to bacon. Looking forward to exploring the preparation. Stay tuned…

And don’t miss out…

Autumn novelties

September 10, 2008

Berried Treasures STILL has strawberries to live up to its name…

Honey Hollow Farm has elderberries and sour Mexican durkins

Oak Grove Plantation has small asian pears and okra

Locust Grove Fruits has fragrant concord grapes and beau coup variety of plums!

Valley Shepherd Creamery has fall-milk cheeses

Migliorelli (and so many others) have zillions of grape tomatoes… and they also have cantaloupes and melons in the corner…

Dahlias are riotous at Phillips Farms…

And a Saturday regular is making a Wednesday appearance with their handmade specialties…

And … at last! Karen at Three Corners has returned with her beautiful sheepskins (and cheeses!)

Maitakes & Sorbet

September 10, 2008

Today I branched out a little, and bought rosemary sorbet for my afternoon snack! I’m excited to try it!

Honey Hollow has Maitake Mushrooms today – my absolute favorite mushroom. Well, now second to the Hunters Heart of last week… . and THIS week! I turned the HH into a mushroom gravy that I served with broiled steak from Acadian Farms, and couscous with callaloo, dried blueberries, pinenuts and pickled garlic seeds. Delicious! The next day we still had mushroom gravy, so I served it up over artichoke raviolis.

By the way: Duck fat makes everything better. It is my new mantra. I made popped corn with duck fat, and seasoned it with black pepper and sea salt. WOW. INCREDIBLE. Highly recommended.

Cranberry beans are everywhere right now. Shell ’em and cook gently with garlic, onions, and/or pancetta or sausage. You’ll be glad you did.

BTW: Friday, I will not be reporting as I’m off for a long weekend. Have fun in my absence!

~baconbit

Acorn squashes and Shiso leaves

September 8, 2008

Does anyone know about the little stand I saw today that proclaimed itself “WOORI FARM”? I don’t recall seeing before. But nice prices! WOW! And beautiful bundles of shiso leaves.

Yunnos also had shiso leaves, sweet watermelons, longbeans and beets! Next week I will by the lovely long thin beets they have for pickling. The slices come out so even.

I bought an acorn squash today from John Maduros. After I bought it, I saw Norwich Farms had them also. John’s were $1/lb, Norwich was $2/lb. Then again, Norwich had those orange hubbard-esque ones. Oh well! Next week maybe!

~baconbit

Wild Hive

September 5, 2008

It’s September, and Wild Hive Bakery is back with their lovely local scones and cinnamon whirls. My colleague uses their oatmeal as well. I’m still in the middle of a bag of 10-grain hot cereal from Bob’s Red Mill, but when it runs out, I hope to try their oatmeal. I love the broken groats – not the rolled kind. Rolled? Too… I dunno. I just don’t like the texture.

Anyway! So, yes, Wild Hive is back and I am so glad. I didn’t see any cider today, weirdly enough. THat will change soon.

I bought $15 worth of lima beans today – most will be shucked, parboiled, and frozen for the winter. I got the limas at Yunno’s, along with some calloo – my latest and most favorite green. Use it like spinich, and marvel at it’s magnificent flavor, which I totally cannot describe.

Tonight for dinner, or tomorrow night (I haven’t decided), will be steak from Arcadian pastures and those mushrooms I bought. And calloo. And maybe some limas too.

Have a lovely weekend all!

~baconbit