Archive for December 2011

project grapefruit

December 20, 2011

When the kid came by selling fruit, I was happy to do my part to support the school band. I went for the large box of grapefruit, at $30, not really paying attention to what “large” meant.Turns out large means three dozen, at close to a pound each. (See those jars in the lower left? They are half-gallons.) That’s a lot of grapefruit. For the past couple of days I’ve been on a two-a-day diet. Last night, I rolled up my sleeves and began the real attack. First, I prepared the peels (saved from fresh consumption) for candying.These went into a sugar syrup to simmer while I began the marmalade. My research had turned up two basic techniques. One involved a laborious separation of outer rind and pith (ugh) while the other counteracted bitterness – and retained pectin – by boiling the fruits whole for a couple of hours, then chopping everything together. Obviously I chose this one.

After their scalding soak, the grapefruits looked like the saddest dodge balls ever.

A recipe of marmalade called for two grapefruit, which seemed hardly worth the trouble, so I planned three batches, each spiced differently. My mom is big on savory applications for marmalade, so I had her in mind for the first, which included a heaping teaspoon (each) of cracked black pepper, crushed coriander seed, minced ginger, and salt. The remains of the ginger (probably about two tablespoons) went into pot #2. The last batch simmered with the crushed contents of 5 cardamom pods; at the end, I added a few glugs of rosewater.

The tedious peel-separating recipes call for you to boil the marmalade for a couple of hours. In the version I chose the long pre-boil meant that, once assembled, this recipe required only about 20 minutes in the pot. So by the time I got the last one ready, the first was gelled and ready to can.

Last but not least, I was hoping to make some version of an Indian lemon pickle, but using grapefruit. After studying several recipes I couldn’t really figure out the logic. Julie Sahni has one that uses a ton of sugar and one that uses no sugar; neither use terribly much salt. I found some with oil, some without. Most were packed with spices simply not available in Cooperstown. (Aside: I had hoped to make a batch of marmalade with Campari, but that’s a little too exotic for my local liquor store.) In general it’s a bad idea to experiment with preserving, but since grapefruit are way below the safe pH for botulism, I felt brave. I ended up using the proportions of salt and sugar in this recipe, but devising my own spice mixture to complement grapefruit’s floral quality: into the mortar went 1/4 cup (each) of peppercorns and coriander, plus a few shards of cinnamon. I topped off the jar with some lemon juice… we’ll see what happens.

Which takes me exactly 1/3 of the way through my giant box of citrus. I guess I know what’s for breakfast…

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in the bleak midwinter… and still eating local!

December 19, 2011

During my first Roseboom winters, I was pretty excited to have a freezer full of pesto. These days there is a lot more going on…

ruby kraut, burbling

ruby kraut, sharing a plate with potatoes and kale

butternut bisque, topped with "russian relish"

Are you wondering if every meal is going to include beets? Here’s what happened: During the last week of harvest my neighbor, who is a real farmer, called to me from his field of beets (which is, in my book, a very close relative to a field of dreams). Anyway, he had more than he could deal with, so he invited me to pull as many as I could handle. I took 20 pounds. I should mention that I had already put up a large haul of beets, pickling them with coriander, black pepper and ginger. But what’s a few more?

Of all the preparations, Russian relish is my favorite. At Thanksgiving, the cranberry bowl stayed full while everyone dove into this. It is a sweet not salty preparation that includes diced beets, cabbages, onions and horseradish. Since I don’t own a food processor, it was easily the most labor-intensive preparation of the summer… but I would do it again.

The ruby kraut is a simple lacto-fermented mix, with 2/3 shredded beets and 1/3 cabbage.

Not pictured, but also delicious, are maple-pickled beets and onions, spiced with ginger and cardamom.

"hank's x-tra special" shell beans, with kale and garlic

And here is a meal without beets.

breakfast potatoes, with homemade spicy ketchup

And another.

the stuff of soup

soup with toasted cornbread

peanut-butternut stew, with sriracha and arugula

garbanzo crepe, with yogurt, russian relish and bitter greens

goat cheese, with spicy greens and olive oil

pesto rice, with a side of pickled beets

Lots of new entries in my winter pantry, but pesto is always welcome!