Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Local Foods part Duex

This evening before my book club meeting, I thought I'd stroll through the park and pick up some apples to share. Afterall, this had been my habit for the last few weeks, and I always acquire at least four times the amount of apples that would actually be eaten, allowing me to bring a lot home. On my walk this afternoon, I was a little bummed to see my apple abundance waning, the dropped apples pretty picked over, and the pecans all carried away by the cohort of crows that stopped by this morning.
Alas, the season of plenty, of free food falling off the trees, is coming to an end. And though I have still been reaching for fresh apples, tomatoes and frozen grapes, the fruit flies gathering around my crate of tomatoes are a reminder that I've better get to work if I'm going to have any of this around in a month or two.

The easiest answer has been to make apple chips. In the winter time I use my oven as others would use a wood stove or a furnace. We only used the a/c four times this summer, and we hope to minimize the use of the heater this winter. One of my plans is to use the oven often to heat the house, while making delicious things. A couple mornings this week, I woke up and sliced some apples and tomatoes. I set the oven to 200 degrees, oiled the apple pan with coconut oil and the tomato pan with olive oil, arranged them on sheets so that as many could fit as possible, and popped them in. Oh, Amil made a delicious spice mixture for the apples that consisted of cloves and cinnamon and maybe some salt.
About an hour into the drying, I flip them so they don't get stuck. I think it took another hour or two before I would just turn the oven off and leave them to dry out for a few hours. The result is apple chips that are crunchy and flavorful, and tomato chips that are also crunchy and taste a little of apples. :)
I also utilized my oven time and space by throwing in some granola: 2 cups oats, 2 tablespoons agave nectar, 1 cup coconut, 2 tablespoons carob powder and by happy accident: 2 tablespoons of savory blend flax/hemp seed mix. The garlic and parsley in the mix gave the granola a distinctive and interesting flavor that really makes it. As Tina Fey would say, there are no mistakes, only beautiful happy accidents.

I also made simple pickles with a bunch of cucumbers we had. I cut them into spears and slices and shoved them into any jar I could find with a mixture of garlic, fennel, pepper, and red pepper flakes (I didn't have dill). I covered them with a mixture of 1.5 tablespoons salt for 1 quart of water, let them sit in my pantry for 3 days, and now am storing them in my fridge for 6 weeks. This form of pickling (true pickling, not using vinegar) is called lactofermentation, and results in some beneficial probiotics. The downside is that you can get mold on your pickles once you open them unless you keep them covered. I'm excited to see how mine turn out.

Later this week I'm going to attempt to make ketchup. I'll keep you posted.

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