When we bought our house, we inherited two apple trees, an Asian pear tree, and a (sickly) Bartlett pear tree. These trees create enormous amounts of fruit (with the exception of the ill pear tree) that we watch – every year – with a mixture of guilt and sadness, because we just don’t know what to do with all the fruit. At the start of the season, we’re so excited, and by the end, when we’re picking up buggy, moldy fruit off the front lawn, we feel guilty for not trying harder, and doing more, with our fruit. It’s a little ridiculous, but then again, so are we – and so it goes.
So I’m working on having a restorative experience this summer. Before all the fruit is eaten by the worms and other bugs, I’m planning on canning and doing what I can with the apples. First up, apple butter. We love jams for toast and cheeses, and a thick, apple-y spread seems a great way to use the apples AND to make in big batches AND to eventually give as house gifts or little holiday giveaways.
I’m pleased to say that the lovely apples from my lovely tree created a thick, spiced spread that tastes like fall – it will be great to use for sandwiches, on eggs, stirred in overnight oats and definitely to be served with creamy cheeses. With a bit of chopping and some mostly hands-off time, this is recipe is a keeper for the fall season.
I couldn’t let this month of apples go by without telling you that I have finally figured out why people get excited about crabapples. For 15 years I had a huge, out of control, crabapple tree in my yard that caused me nothing but grief. The only time I liked it was during the one week a year it gave me beautiful pink blooms that blew in front of my kitchen window in the spring and made me happy.
As I helped a friend move a few weeks ago she said, let all the kids go pick crabapples! I truly thought I would just take some of the hideous fruit and throw it away when I got home. As three girls picked two home depot buckets full of crabapples I looked upon these beautifully dark red little crabapples and thought, these are not crabapples. Lo and behold, they were the crabapple that everyone else gets excited about. Who knew there was more than one type of crabapple?!
My friend’s tree is a Dolgo Crabapple and it produces tart little apples that are a delight to work with. Her husband invented his own corer that made coring these apples fun and fast!
I followed this recipe to make this beautiful pie. It’s quite tart but so delicious! Even though I have made many pies (like this one and this one) and just as many pie crusts (like this one and this one), this pie crust was the best I’ve ever made by far!
I’m slightly resentful that we’re already in Apple Month here at S&S – not because of the fruit itself, of course – but because, as Streusel pointed out, apples are a sign of fall. We never got much of a summer here in Seattle, so it feels counter-intuitive to be celebrating fall already. With the exception of one really warm week, I felt like I spent most of this summer waiting for summer to actually start. My Early Girl tomatoes are finally coming ripe – in September. I’ve been cheated!
Nonetheless, it’s time to deal with reality – fall is coming. And it’s been a very busy start, so rather than have a new apple recipe for you this week, I’m going to do a bit of a retrospective. I’ve been traveling quite a bit, mostly for work, spending a week in DC (where I got to spend sometime with this lovely and her awesome Sous Chef) and then some playtime in NYC. During my travels I managed to come down with an ugly cold, so returning home and to the kitchen wasn’t something I wasn’t interested in (with the exception of one batch of matzo ball soup, a recipe I make when I’m feeling my most pathetic).
Happily, we’ve got some fantastic apple recipes on this blog to help me get excited for fall – some of my own and some of Streusel’s that I’ve been meaning to make forever. Apparently all it takes me to enthusiastically about a new season is a bit of butter, some phyllo dough, and cinnamon.
Streusel made these a few years back, and they are the perfect combination of simple to make and look amazing. Adding to the “must bake” list for this year!
I made this for the first time recently, and it’s a perfect dessert to take to dinner parties and other places you want to impress people. Or, you know, if you want a tasty dessert just to please yourself.
I’m instantly invested in anything with phyllo – and in fact, I also have some extra phyllo hanging out in my freezer AND about a million apples falling from my apple tree.
And speaking of having a million apples – this is the *perfect* time to jam and can some of those apples!
As the nights get cooler here I start to think of fall, which makes me giddy, and then I think of winter, which makes me sad. Even though I have simplified life and no longer have a huge driveway to shovel snow off of and have a Subaru, the obligatory Colorado vehicle, I still don’t like winter!
Let’s not think of winter for now.
Let’s celebrate the end of summer and the beginning of my favorite season by enjoying apples this month.
I am a giant fan of mustard – I love to pile it on sandwiches, garden burgers and it’s my first choice dipping condiment for the Greatest Food of All Time, french fries (that I think ketchup is a vile substance created to punish me for bad behavior in a past life is a story for another time). As part of “make it yourself” month here at S&S, I figured it was time to try out a new recipe.
I was having coffee with my friend Cristy yesterday and trying to figure out what to make next for the blog. When I was lamenting about what homemade item I could make next, she immediately asked if I had ever made butter before.
How have I never made butter before?
Now that I have made it, it is so easy and SOOOOOO good! I keep trying to find things I can slather it on just to eat more of it! What’s even better, when you make butter you are also making buttermilk. Biscuits and Butter anyone?
For this month’s theme, I’d originally planned on making a different recipe, and was trying to figure out when I’d have time to do it. I was getting stressed realizing how limited my time was this week… which, you know, is a bit opposite of the purpose of the “it’s better to make it yourself!” theme. I just don’t think it’s really great to make things yourself if the making leads to anxiety.
Oddly, though, at the same time as I was fussing over when the hell I’d find time for this week’s post, I realized that (duh) I was plotting to make homemade ricotta cheese for a dinner party we were having on Saturday night. I’d made it once before – many years ago – and remembered homemade ricotta is wildly easy and crazy delicious – creamy, rich, and the slightest bit tangy. There’s a ton of recipes online, but I went with my tried, true and very favorite blog, Smitten Kitchen.
Once I made the ricotta, I used it two ways – one in a recipe for zucchini stuffed with ricotta and a few veggies, and another for a delicious dip for veggies. Both are SO GOOD and were perfect appetizers!
Here’s the zucchini:
And the dip:
Strudel had the brilliant idea of making August, “Foods you usually buy but can make yourself” Month! The first thing that came to my mind was mayonnaise. I learned to make my own mayonnaise about 2 years ago and since then I have certainly made it more than I have bought it. It’s hard for me to buy mayonnaise now that I know how easy it is to make.
Have you seen the ingredients in store-bought mayo?
It’s a lot of unnecessary stuff. I think you’ll agree once you start making it yourself that the store-bought variety just isn’t worth it. The only downside to homemade mayo is that it doesn’t have the shelf life of store-bought because it is all natural. If you don’t think you can eat a cup of mayo in a week or two then throw half in a small jar and give it to a friend!
My favorite kind of mayo is Chipotle Mayo! I love adding a little kick to my tuna fish or egg salad sandwich. It also tasted great drizzled over my tortilla crusted tilapia.
Shalom from Sacramento! For the third year in a row, I’ve made my annual pilgrimage to the International Food Bloggers Conference, during which I pal around with my ladyblogger friends, stuff myself with tasty foods, an attempt to restrain myself in the gift suite. I’m sadly Streusel-less again this year (she couldn’t make it anyway, and then there was some emergency with her* hamster, which apparently cost $100 in vet bills and I still haven’t heard the whole story). But I’m thrilled, as always, to get a weekend with my lovely Erica.
Anyway, let me fill you in on what I’ve been up to while I’m here (other than sweating like a mother, but you knew that anyway since I’m in Sacramento at the end of July…)
* important note: the hamster actually belongs to Streusel’s daughter, not Streusel herself. Or so she claims.
What could be more classic and more summer than Strawberry Shortcakes! I found a wonderfully easy recipe in a great cookbook that I have been wanting to share with all of you so now is the perfect time!
A friend of mine knows the author, a Seattle Restaurateur, and knows how much I love food so she gave me the beautiful cookbook, A Boat, a Whale and a Walrus by Renee Erickson.