Apple Processing Day

Our backyard apple tree produced 14 pounds of usable fruit this year. It took two of us, with the ladder and some careful contortioning, to harvest nearly all of it. I don’t do anything to protect the fruit from the rest of Nature, no spraying and no little fruit socks. (I bought a package of fruit socks one year, and the process of getting one sock on one apple while I was still standing on the ground was challenging enough that I’ve never been inspired to try to do it from the top of a ladder.) The resulting fruit is …

Taffy Pulling, Because Science!

It started with an idle comment. It ended up a many-houred end-of-school-year sugar-coated event. This goopy stuff is homemade salt water taffy. An exploration of sugar, chemistry, and the relative strength of various arms. I gave the kids (Caitlyn and some homeschool friends) a short lecture about atomic structure, molecular bonds, solutions (and why it’s not a reaction), and what it means to be supersaturated. I’m never really sure how these little talks land with the kids; Caitlyn always says very positive things but the others are often so quiet I’m not at all certain anything sticks. I’ve decided to …

What I did with my December

I always seem to go a bit off the grid in December. I’m a far cry from the 80 pounds of candy Grandpa made one year, but I do seem to get lost in the kitchen just the same. Nuts to chop, sugar to caramelize, chocolate to melt. This was the year I learned to temper chocolate. Also, silicone molds are better for shaping ganache centers for truffles. Turtles should be made with two pecans instead of three, only 24 turtles fit on a tray and I probably should have made at least 30. Dipping is much easier with an …

Harvest Time: Onions

How long do red onions keep? I suppose I could have left them in the drawer in the fridge to find out, but then I wouldn’t have this: Red Onion Marmalade! Actually, there’s only a very tiny amount of citrus in this at all, so I’m not sure it’s really a marmalade. But that’s what the recipe called it, so there you have it. It’s amazing with creamy, spreadable cheeses, layered on bread. I think we almost ate a whole jar in just one of our last farmers’ market picnics. Slightly tangy, slightly oniony, definitely sweet. Even the kids ate …

Harvest time: Tomatoes

I think I’m going to stop trying to grow any tomatoes that aren’t a cherry variety. For the last few years, I’ve put in a couple cherry tomato plants and a couple of others. I get little tomatoes, Sungolds and Sweet Millions, not loads, but some, but very few of the big tomatoes. My neighbors last year got lots of big tomatoes, so it’s probably more my fault as a tomato grower than the fault of the tomatoes or our summers. But perhaps it’s time to acknowledge and run with what I appear to be good at. Because I can …

Preserving Season

I’ve discovered Preserves this summer. Sure, I’ve been “preserving” for a few years now: freezing, drying, canning, etc. And I’ve certainly preserved fruit before. But a Preserve. It’s not whole or sliced fruit floating in simple syrup. It’s not jam or jelly. It’s somewhere between the two: chunks of fruit in a syrup, often with additional flavors. I know it sounds strange, but I’m finding preserves to be a little bit more flexible, more “ready to eat” than just fruit in jars. See, I canned apricots back in 2010. Almost 20 pints of golden orange yumminess. We’re still eating them. …