Tuesday, October 29, 2013

More fall cooking, now with recipes

My last post prompted one of Benjamin's aunts to get in touch and send along a family recipe for apple pie. Since I still had 7 or 8 pounds of apples waiting to be eaten, and I've already made my standard apple crostata three times this fall and wanted a change, I gave it a try. It is sort of an apple crisp pie, i.e. there is no rolled crust, just a topping that you pat into place; that is a huge plus in my book, since I really hate making pie crusts. They are too finicky and easy to mess up; no matter how fool-proof the crust is supposed to be, I can manage to mess it up, or at least be incredibly dissatisfied with it. Anyway, the Rider family apple pie recipe is too good not to share, so here it is:

Rider Family Top Crust Apple Pie

4-5 peeled & sliced apples
1/2 c sugar
2 T lemon juice
2 T orange juice

1 c flour
1/2 c butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 c nuts, chopped (I used almonds, because that is what I had in the freezer)

Layer apples in a greased pie pan and sprinkle with sugar and juices. (You could probably mix them in a bowl first and then put them into the pie plate, but I didn't, and it worked just fine.)
Combine topping with a fork or pastry cutter (or in food processor) and pat on top of the apples. 

Bake at 400 for 30 minutes.  Great with vanilla ice cream on top!

Sorry, no picture. We ate it all before I thought about taking one. 

And I realize now that while I have mentioned crostatas on this blog a number of times, it doesn't look like I have ever put up a recipe or even a picture (although that doesn't seem possible). Rather than type it out, I am just going to include a link to it from Giada De Laurentiis and the Food Channel. As far as pie recipes go, it is pretty easy, but it does involve a crust of sorts, so it takes more time than the Rider family recipe. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fall cooking

It is fall again, and for the last month or so, I have been busy finding ways to preserve and use some of the bounty. We had enough jalapenos this year that even Benjamin couldn't eat them all, so I tried pickling some. I think I had about a pound and got three pint-sized jars.

Apart from having to wear gloves to avoid getting too much hot stuff on my hands, it wasn't any harder than making regular pickles. They have to cure for a while, so we haven't tried them yet.

I made another batch of regular pickles yesterday too, after I bought a vegetable assortment box at the farmer's market that came with two pounds of cucumbers. There was no way we were going to eat all of those - I like them in salads but often forget to use them, and they don't last very long. I discovered after I started that I was all out of dill seeds, and since Malcolm was napping and I didn't want to waste time, I decided that I would use caraway seeds instead, since I had two cans of those (why?!). I have used them before and can't say that I really noticed a difference, so the three jars I made yesterday should be fine, if not kosher dills.

My other preserving challenge was entirely self-inflicted. I ordered a bushel box of apples from the farmer's market to dry in the dehydrator and use for apple crostatas and other such yum-yums. For several nights after Malcolm went to bed, and one early morning when he had me up at 5 AM, I spent an hour or two peeling and slicing apples and putting them on trays. 

Of course, the next day I had to bag them up. I put some into a ziplock bag for immediate consumption and vacuum-sealed the rest. We've had one crostata so far, and I plan to make another this week while my mom is visiting. I still have at least four pounds of those apples in the fridge, and then I went and bought another 6 pounds of other varieties, so there may be another night of peeling and slicing in my future. Or maybe applesauce. We'll see.

The last challenge is the most difficult - collard greens. I seem to have planted a few too many this year, and we are over-run. I've used it in place of kale in a gratin, make our standard collard greens and black bean wraps, used it in omelets, given some away...The problem with greens is that you can't really can them at home, so you have to find ways to use them while they are fresh. I just saw a recipe for kale chips in the microwave that said you could substitute collards, so that will probably be my next project.