Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Comfort me with apples—and long autumn walks

by June

We're saying goodbye to the colors—to the oranges and reds of October, but also the green grass that sprouted early this year and has stayed long.

Autumn calls us out for long rambles.

We climb along rocks by the river.

Or we take rides along curving roads and end up at the apple orchard.

This is the season of bittersweet truth though—a crackle of ice on the chickens' water, tracings of frost on the window. Winter will close in.

So we go out with our cameras and dazzle ourselves with the light on the water, the snap in the air, the antics of the goats.

We sit in the grass and stare into our hen's eyes.

We lie down and look at the blue sky and the red leaves and the white clouds. Everything is clarified to its purest hue.

Dark nudges us into the house finally. But we have apples and more time for dinner. What should we make? What should we make up?

Since we have a pizza dough ready to go, how about spinning a pizza inspired by our adventures? How about a Savory Applesauce and Ham Pizza?

We peel and dice up two apples and put them in a sauce pan with a tablespoon of olive oil and two cloves of garlic. We cover the pan and keep the heat low. When it is all good and soft, we roughly mush the apples with the garlic (though you could remove the cloves if you just wanted a garlicky nuance).

While the applesauce is cooking, we slice a red onion into thin rounds and sweat them over low heat, then fire it up a little to caramelize them.

We have a bit of ham and dice it up.

Birch smoothes out the pizza dough. The applesauce goes on first, then the caramelized onions, then the ham, then some shredded mozzarella. We finish it with a sprinkling of ground coriander, pepper and salt.

 Darkness may come early now, but it brings with it the gift of having more time together in the kitchen—more time to make dinner out of what we've found growing all around us this long, lovely season.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Goats will eat anything

by June

I always tell Blossom she's good enough to eat.
Clover thinks so too.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Savoring the harvest: Roasted raspberry spoon jam

by June

Rain is rattling against the window panes. Outside, the sky is low and dark, but the grass is a lively green and the trees that edge the woods have leaves so bright they seem to give off a kind of light. A fire takes the chill off. I consider that it might be the perfect autumn day. But, then, I considered the same thing two days ago when I was picking raspberries and the sky was blue and filled with wispy clouds, when the leaves were coming down in pirouettes and the children and goats were doing their own kind of dance across the meadow. Maybe Monday was the perfect autumn day for picking raspberries, and today is the perfect one for eating spoon jam on fresh bread.

Our everbearing raspberry patch is small. But this year it has done deliciously by us. It gave us a modest bounty early in the summer. Now it is thick with berries-to-be that would fill many a jar of jam. Except that the frost will probably nip hard soon. We've been enjoying the berries as they come. It is surely one of life's luxuries to get up in the morning and walk through dewy grass to pick raspberries into a bowl of cereal. We've had them on yogurt, baked into brownies and into our favorite cake. We've steeped some in spirits and hidden it away for the holidays. And we've jammed them in small batches.

My favorite raspberry jam recipe was shared with me in a raspberry patch on top of a hill on a farm I love. I think of that farm every time I make Roasted Raspberry Spoon Jam. It could not be simpler, and you can make it with a handful or a bucketful. Whatever amount of raspberries you have, you just match it with an equal amount of sugar.

We had a brimming cup of berries one day. We put them in an oven-safe dish.

We measured a brimming cup of sugar into another oven-safe dish.

Then each dish went into a preheated, 350-degree F oven for 20 to 25 minutes—until the berries were just beginning to caramelize. Working very carefully, I then poured the sugar into the berries and stirred as it turned almost instantly into a lava-flow of sweet-smelling jam.

This simple jam never lasts long around here, but while it does, it is the taste of autumn: fresh berries filled with a summer's sunshine and just a hint of warm smokiness. It's cobbler on a spoon.