Sunday, September 27, 2015

'Tis the Season

For applesauce, that is! Truly I'm indulging in a bit of wishful thinking, pretending that Autumn is in full swing down here in the deep south. Still, temps in the 70's are so much better than the 95 degree weather of a couple of weeks ago, so we are counting our blessings.

Back to my wishful thinking:  I wish you could smell it in here. The photo doesn't do it justice. This is a labor of love, as it's a bit labor-intensive for the output which is always gone in a flash, but it's still worth doing.  Here's my recipe:

Cheryl's Favorite Applesauce

10-12 apples, peeled and cored -- make sure at least one is a Granny Smith

1Tbsp. "butter" of your choice

a splash of water or cider if you have it

1tsp. Allspice

1 tsp. Nutmeg

a pinch of kosher or Himalayan salt

Really, the only effort here is the apple prep. Chop the apples roughly and warm them in a pan on medium/low heat with all other ingredients. Make sure there is enough liquid on the bottom that the apples won't burn. Stir periodically so the apples warm and break down evenly. After all the apples seem to have softened and they begin to simmer, turn the heat to low and cover. I usually cook the applesauce for a total of about 45 minutes. Enjoy warm or cold.

I always have big bags of organic apples around for school lunches and juicing. When they begin looking a little soft I know it's time to make the sauce. The bulk of the apples can be any variety, but I find the tastiest sauce includes the tart flavor of the granny smith. A little squeeze of lemon or some citric acid may be good alternatives if you find yourself grannysmithless. Obviously, this recipe responds well to personalization. You may like cinnamon or ginger. Add more "butter" if you want a more silky, rich sauce. If you want it sweeter you could add some brown sugar or, even better, a tablespoon of molasses! I'm not a big sweets fan myself, preferring the natural sugars in the apples. This is amazing warm or cold. I really love it on a warm bowl of oatmeal in the morning. It tastes like apple pie in your bowl. Hope you like it!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Two Pods of Okra

My lone okra plant has become the star of the garden this year. Undeterred by the little green grasshoppers who feast upon it's splayed leaves, it keeps producing large, pale yellow hibiscus-like flowers and one or two pods at a time. I've tried letting more of the pods ripen before harvesting, but have found that the very large ones become a bit dry and woody. Still, those were well utilized finely diced in the gumbo. Since I have a penchant for the juicier okra pods, I pick 'em when they are about four inches long now.

Not wanting this sparse but constant harvest to languish in the crisper, I've been adding one or two pods of okra to foods one wouldn't normally pair with the southern staple. You wouldn't believe how delicious these pods were with my chinese vegetables last night! I roughly chopped four baby bok choy heads and baby portobellos, sauteed them briefly in coconut oil, added thinly sliced okra, fresh garlic, a shake of tamari and a splash of white wine, then covered the whole thing and took it off the heat. The result was perfectly tender-crisp, flavorful, mild, slippery and luscious! The sliminess of the okra creates such a lovely sauce texture. All the flavors were delicious together.

Typically paired with bold spices, okra fared well here in a milder presentation. The okra plant is originally from the continent of Africa, but is used widely in Creole, Cajun, Caribbean, Indian and Turkish cuisines, among others. I loved this world fusion experiment. As for the garden, I'll be adding a few more dramatic, towering, resilient okra plants next spring.