vrai-lean-uh

Cooking, eating, making sweeping pronouncements

Posts tagged apples

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I wish this photo wasn’t blurry.
These are the apples I’ve been enjoying from the Out on a Limb CSA.  When you last heard from me on the apple CSA topic, I was feeling moderately to extremely irate about how they signed up my husband instead of me.  They since wrote me a really nice email apologizing, and explaining how it happened, and when I went to pick up my last share, my name was on the list, and it was all very nicely handled and I get to go back to feeling awesome and happy about the apples.
The apples are great!  They have a one-page little fact sheet, with information about the apples and their origins, and the apples are all packaged and labeled so you don’t get confused re: which is which, and I love it.
In addition to the applesauce extravaganza, I also recently made apple crisp with the CSA apples when my little brother was staying over.  My little brother and I are weirdly similar on a number of fronts (except for some obvious age/gender related differences), and particularly when it comes to our feelings about dessert.  For instance:
Pie > Cake
Ice Cream > Most Things
Apple Crisp = Dessert AND Apple Crisp = Breakfast
Unfortunately, the apple crisp was not as awesomely good as I wanted it to be.  The apples sort of disintegrated when I was cooking.  My brother suggested that if I had left the peels on, that might have helped things stay together, and he’s probably right, but I think I also used a disintegrating apple variety rather than a not-disintegrating apple variety.*  It was still fine though, because even a not-great crisp is better than no crisp.
The next morning I packed my brother off to school without having the crisp for breakfast, because it seemed like giving your brother crisp for breakfast and nothing else and then sending him to school is not the kind of thing a responsible adult does.  I mean, he has a long wait between breakfast and lunch, and I wanted to make sure he had a decent meal.  However, when I had crisp for lunch, the fridge had made it amazing, and I regretted that my brother didn’t get to enjoy the less-disappointing version of the crisp.  During its cold overnight sojourn, the bottom layer had solidified a bit, and also blended more fully with the bottom edge of the crisp topping into a lovely buttery topping/apple mix.  It was super good.
Crisp is pretty straightforward. I used Mark Bittman’s recipe (the link is from his Minimalist column in the New York Times, but it’s the same as the one in his How To Cook Everything cookbook):
Mark Bittman’s Apple Crisp Recipe
 6 cups peeled, cored, sliced apples or ripe pears, 2 to 3 pounds (You could try not peeling, too)
 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, or more to taste (Sometimes I use cardamom and a little bit of ginger)
 1/2 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons 
 5 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing the pan 
 3/4 cup oats 
 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans (I like these to be very well chopped)
1.  Heat oven to 375 degrees. Toss fruit with half the cinnamon and 2 tablespoons sugar, and spread it in a lightly buttered 8-inch square or 9-inch round baking pan.2.  Combine remaining cinnamon and sugar in container of a food processor with butter, oats and nuts; pulse a few times, just until ingredients are combined. (Do not purée.) To mix ingredients by hand, soften butter slightly, toss together dry ingredients and work butter in with fingertips, a pastry blender or a fork.3.  Spread topping over apples, and bake about 40 minutes, until topping is browned and apples are tender. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.Domesticait has a more exciting/easier crisp recipe, that also involves decorative apples, which I love.**  It reminds me of the little leaves you can make out of extra pie crust and put on top of your pumpkin pie and look all fancy (I have never actually done this, but magazines are constantly telling me that I could if I were a better, more magazine-like person).* Apples vary widely in the extent to which they fall apart when heated.  In theory, I could remember which hold together well and which fall apart and make my apple purchasing choices based on that, but in reality there is only so much that can be stored in my head, and that just doesn’t make the short list.  Or the medium list.** I also give my coworkers homemade valentines, which is hard to do and still maintain an appropriately professional veneer, but whatever.  I’m just saying I’m not one to judge an apple heart.

I wish this photo wasn’t blurry.

These are the apples I’ve been enjoying from the Out on a Limb CSAWhen you last heard from me on the apple CSA topic, I was feeling moderately to extremely irate about how they signed up my husband instead of me.  They since wrote me a really nice email apologizing, and explaining how it happened, and when I went to pick up my last share, my name was on the list, and it was all very nicely handled and I get to go back to feeling awesome and happy about the apples.

The apples are great!  They have a one-page little fact sheet, with information about the apples and their origins, and the apples are all packaged and labeled so you don’t get confused re: which is which, and I love it.

In addition to the applesauce extravaganza, I also recently made apple crisp with the CSA apples when my little brother was staying over.  My little brother and I are weirdly similar on a number of fronts (except for some obvious age/gender related differences), and particularly when it comes to our feelings about dessert.  For instance:

Pie > Cake

Ice Cream > Most Things

Apple Crisp = Dessert AND Apple Crisp = Breakfast

Unfortunately, the apple crisp was not as awesomely good as I wanted it to be.  The apples sort of disintegrated when I was cooking.  My brother suggested that if I had left the peels on, that might have helped things stay together, and he’s probably right, but I think I also used a disintegrating apple variety rather than a not-disintegrating apple variety.*  It was still fine though, because even a not-great crisp is better than no crisp.

The next morning I packed my brother off to school without having the crisp for breakfast, because it seemed like giving your brother crisp for breakfast and nothing else and then sending him to school is not the kind of thing a responsible adult does.  I mean, he has a long wait between breakfast and lunch, and I wanted to make sure he had a decent meal.  However, when I had crisp for lunch, the fridge had made it amazing, and I regretted that my brother didn’t get to enjoy the less-disappointing version of the crisp.  During its cold overnight sojourn, the bottom layer had solidified a bit, and also blended more fully with the bottom edge of the crisp topping into a lovely buttery topping/apple mix.  It was super good.

Crisp is pretty straightforward. I used Mark Bittman’s recipe (the link is from his Minimalist column in the New York Times, but it’s the same as the one in his How To Cook Everything cookbook):

Mark Bittman’s Apple Crisp Recipe

  • 6 cups peeled, cored, sliced apples or ripe pears, 2 to 3 pounds (You could try not peeling, too)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, or more to taste (Sometimes I use cardamom and a little bit of ginger)
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 5 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 3/4 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans (I like these to be very well chopped)
1.  Heat oven to 375 degrees. Toss fruit with half the cinnamon and 2 tablespoons sugar, and spread it in a lightly buttered 8-inch square or 9-inch round baking pan.

2.  Combine remaining cinnamon and sugar in container of a food processor with butter, oats and nuts; pulse a few times, just until ingredients are combined. (Do not purée.) To mix ingredients by hand, soften butter slightly, toss together dry ingredients and work butter in with fingertips, a pastry blender or a fork.

3.  Spread topping over apples, and bake about 40 minutes, until topping is browned and apples are tender. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Domesticait has a more exciting/easier crisp recipe, that also involves decorative apples, which I love.**  It reminds me of the little leaves you can make out of extra pie crust and put on top of your pumpkin pie and look all fancy (I have never actually done this, but magazines are constantly telling me that I could if I were a better, more magazine-like person).

* Apples vary widely in the extent to which they fall apart when heated.  In theory, I could remember which hold together well and which fall apart and make my apple purchasing choices based on that, but in reality there is only so much that can be stored in my head, and that just doesn’t make the short list.  Or the medium list.

** I also give my coworkers homemade valentines, which is hard to do and still maintain an appropriately professional veneer, but whatever.  I’m just saying I’m not one to judge an apple heart.

Filed under I am so pale apples CSA Portland Maine

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Applesauce!

I did get my act together to make applesauce, and I made a pretty big batch (for me).  When I’ve been making dilly beans, I make 4 pints at a time, so I process them in my new lobster pot with a round cooling rack on the bottom, which is smaller and easier to deal with than the big lobster/canning pot.  However, I had a lot of apples, and once you’re wiping your counters down with bleach and boiling shit, it does seem like a go big or go home situation.

This is only a very small portion of the apples I washed and peeled and cored.

I don’t know that I’d call 7 pints “going big” by the standards of people who can regularly, but it counts for me.

I had a bit of a revelation this time around, though.  Normally I use a microplane to peel some of the apples so I can keep the peels in with the apples (because it seems like the right thing to do with regards to fiber and nutrients and pretty pink color, but I can’t really back that up).  If you leave the peels on, they don’t cook down as quickly as the apples do, and they remain kind of tough in the sauce.  But if you chop them up small or grate them, then they cook faster and aren’t swimming around in there in chunks.  It is annoying to zest a large number of apples, though, so I started peeling them and then stuffing the peels in my food processor and whizzing them, which worked really nicely.

Anyway, peeling and chopping that number of apples takes forever.  And then I got to the bag with the Martha apples.

You have got to be fucking kidding me.  But no.  Not kidding.

Martha Crab Apples are really, really small.

Another note about applesauce: I like to use a variety of apples (even when I don’t have six different varieties in paper bags in my fridge), because I think it makes better and more interesting and more apple-y tasting applesauce.  That does mean that the apples don’t cook down totally evenly.  Get it so they’re mostly cooked down and then use a potato masher and then, as you’re stirring at the end, mash up any big apple pieces with the back of your spoon.

And because you’re using different varieties of apples, the sweetness varies by batch.  Generally, I add a small amount of sugar and some lemon juice.  I also add some spices, but not much, because I like the applesauce to be pretty versatile.  Before you pack everything into jars and process them, though, taste the sauce and adjust the sugar.

In the end the whole process was easier than I remembered.  But maybe I’ve just gotten more used to it.*

* Also, I learned this time around that it’s normal with applesauce to have some of the sauce ooze out of the jars when you process them or immediately after.  I was always really worried about that, but the seal was always good.

Filed under apples canning gang signs that involve a hand full of apples

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How To Make Up for a Disappointing Dinner

Dinner was a disappointment,* but breakfast, guys, breakfast was awesome. 

First, I had my main man** around, which was great.

Second, I had a fantastic cold brewed vietnamese iced coffee:

Third, our New York Times was successfully delivered and at our front door, which does not happen as consistently as I would wish.

Fourth, I had some nice Maiden Blush apples, sliced and cooked in butter with a little bit of brown sugar over steel cut oats with maple syrup.  This is just about my favorite breakfast ever. 

The apples were great, tart but also sweeter than I expected.  I cut them up into wedges and laid them into my cast iron skillet with some butter and just left them there for a while til they browned and got all melty. When they got close to done I added some brown sugar. 

Meanwhile, I cooked the oats with equal parts water and milk (1 part oats to 2 and a little bit parts liquid, about 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup oats per person).  Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Once they’re done, toss the apples on top of the oats, pour a little bit of maple syrup and voila.  Best breakfast ever.

  

* Thanks to the summer vegetable gratin.  Which apparently, Bunny Victorious also made and found “an absolute waste of my time and the vegetables’ very existence.”  So, you know, it’s not just me here.

* I don’t know how I feel about this phrase, “main man,” but I’m looking for the male equivalent of “best lady” here.

Filed under breakfast apples I want to eat this all the time

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Smitten Kitchen: Peach Shortbread

I want to make this, but probably with apples, because I have a lot of apples at home.

Other things I am excited about making with my apples:

  • Applesauce to can and have all winter and spring.
  • Apple crisp.  Which conveniently doubles as breakfast or dessert.
  • Sautéed apples on steel cut oats.  Or pancakes.  Or with bacon.
  • This recipe for pork with apples, calvados, and apple cider, which is the best thing you’ve ever eaten in your entire life (nice with a side of some cooked greens)

Filed under apples

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Do you know what this post was supposed to be about?  My new apple CSA, and our first pick-up, and how much I loved it.  Do you know what this post is going to be about?  The patriarchy.I drove to the pick up and I was all jazzed, and I said hi to the nice lady at the register and was all jazzed, and I spelled my last name, and she thought it started with the wrong letter because people always do, but then I spelled it again and I was still pretty jazzed.  And then it turned out my name wasn’t on the list.  Which is weird, because I wrote a check, and I called to confirm that the check made it to the people, and the check was deposited, and I’ve been getting the CSA emails.  So, you know, my name should be on the list.  But it’s not.And then I notice that my husband’s name is on the list.Which is interesting, because I didn’t realize that Dave signed up for the apple CSA, too.  I mean, he likes apples, but two full shares of apples is a lot.  It would have been good for him to tell me he signed up, because maybe he needs me to pick up his share today, too, and I don’t know how I’m going to cook all those apples this week.  Except, maybe they took my check, with my signature, and my name on the little paper, and my email address, and somehow decided that of the two names on the check, it is my husband’s that should be on the list.  So we’re clear, Dave and I do not have the same name, we are not the same person, and his name is not a stand-in for mine.  I get that we’re in Maine now, and people are nice here.  But you know what?  I’m not from Maine.  I am not afraid to be the Really Angry Feminist Lady.  And Out on a Limb CSA better be prepared for that if my name is not on that damn list next pickup. And I am going to be PISSED if this interferes with enjoying my Maiden Blush apples.

Do you know what this post was supposed to be about?  My new apple CSA, and our first pick-up, and how much I loved it.  Do you know what this post is going to be about?  The patriarchy.

I drove to the pick up and I was all jazzed, and I said hi to the nice lady at the register and was all jazzed, and I spelled my last name, and she thought it started with the wrong letter because people always do, but then I spelled it again and I was still pretty jazzed.  And then it turned out my name wasn’t on the list.  Which is weird, because I wrote a check, and I called to confirm that the check made it to the people, and the check was deposited, and I’ve been getting the CSA emails.  So, you know, my name should be on the list.  But it’s not.

And then I notice that my husband’s name is on the list.

Which is interesting, because I didn’t realize that Dave signed up for the apple CSA, too.  I mean, he likes apples, but two full shares of apples is a lot.  It would have been good for him to tell me he signed up, because maybe he needs me to pick up his share today, too, and I don’t know how I’m going to cook all those apples this week. 

Except, maybe they took my check, with my signature, and my name on the little paper, and my email address, and somehow decided that of the two names on the check, it is my husband’s that should be on the list. 

So we’re clear, Dave and I do not have the same name, we are not the same person, and his name is not a stand-in for mine.  I get that we’re in Maine now, and people are nice here.  But you know what?  I’m not from Maine.  I am not afraid to be the Really Angry Feminist Lady.  And Out on a Limb CSA better be prepared for that if my name is not on that damn list next pickup.

And I am going to be PISSED if this interferes with enjoying my Maiden Blush apples.

Filed under apples things that are not awesome

Notes

Things I Need Like I Need a Hole in the Head

I am debating joining the Out on a Limb Apple CSA with pickups every other week.  They had me at “rare, interesting and highly flavored apples.”

This is, almost without question, the last thing I need.  And yet!  Homemade applesauce with unusual apples is one of the most delicious things in the world.  And Dave loves apples! I will can them!  And make apple butter!  And give the cans of applesauce as gifts!  And make pies!  And tarts!  And galettes!

I have commenced convincing myself that this is a good idea.

p.s. The link is from last year, I didn’t see a link up for this year.

Filed under bad decision-making apples

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It’s a very special travel edition of vrai-lean-uh, in which I praise the mighty apple. 
Here are the benefits of the travel apple:
1. You can put it in your purse as you’re leaving the house without having to deal with packaging.  No ziplock baggy.  No container that you’re then going to have to schlep around empty for a week.  No napkin even that’s going to get crunched in the corner of your purse and then slowly shred itself until you find tiny tiny pieces of soft paper on your keys every time you take them out.  Just the apple.  In the purse.  This helps when you have a morning flight and need to not be doing anything that requires a lot of thought as you’re trying to get yourself out the door.
2. Apples aren’t going to make you all parched like peanuts are.
3. They’re filling.
4.  They won’t make you feel greasy and airport-y when you’re done eating.  Traveling is kind of a mine field, eating-wise.  If you pack an apple, you know you have at least one healthy thing to consume.
5. It’s pretty non-smelly, which is nice for the people around you on a plane.
6. It’s not going to get smashed in your purse like a banana might.
7. No one’s going to take your apple away from you because it’s too liquid.
8. If you don’t end up needing the apple while you’re traveling, you can have it the next morning for breakfast.  Also convenient!
9. This is sort of a corollary to #1, but they don’t require specialized equipment.  Like a fork.  Or a spoon.  Finding a fork in an airport terminal is not always as easy as you want it to be.
10. Look how jazzed my brother and I are about apples!  We’re super excited!  That’s the kind of excitement you want when you’re traveling, which is otherwise pretty bleak and involves a fair number of indignities. 

It’s a very special travel edition of vrai-lean-uh, in which I praise the mighty apple. 

Here are the benefits of the travel apple:

1. You can put it in your purse as you’re leaving the house without having to deal with packaging.  No ziplock baggy.  No container that you’re then going to have to schlep around empty for a week.  No napkin even that’s going to get crunched in the corner of your purse and then slowly shred itself until you find tiny tiny pieces of soft paper on your keys every time you take them out.  Just the apple.  In the purse.  This helps when you have a morning flight and need to not be doing anything that requires a lot of thought as you’re trying to get yourself out the door.

2. Apples aren’t going to make you all parched like peanuts are.

3. They’re filling.

4.  They won’t make you feel greasy and airport-y when you’re done eating.  Traveling is kind of a mine field, eating-wise.  If you pack an apple, you know you have at least one healthy thing to consume.

5. It’s pretty non-smelly, which is nice for the people around you on a plane.

6. It’s not going to get smashed in your purse like a banana might.

7. No one’s going to take your apple away from you because it’s too liquid.

8. If you don’t end up needing the apple while you’re traveling, you can have it the next morning for breakfast.  Also convenient!

9. This is sort of a corollary to #1, but they don’t require specialized equipment.  Like a fork.  Or a spoon.  Finding a fork in an airport terminal is not always as easy as you want it to be.

10. Look how jazzed my brother and I are about apples!  We’re super excited!  That’s the kind of excitement you want when you’re traveling, which is otherwise pretty bleak and involves a fair number of indignities. 

Filed under apples traveling but you should be wearing pants