Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sharing a Pizza Harvest

I'm a fan of homemade pizza, if you haven't learned that already.  Nothing beats a fresh homemade crust, good homemade sauce, fresh vegetables, lots of cheese... hmmm, I'm getting hungry!

I used to be pretty boring in how I topped my pizzas, though.  "Give me broccoli or give me death" seemed to be my motto.  But I've learned to appreciate other garden-fresh toppings, too.

Here are two recent examples:

Using some of my artisan bread dough, I made a pizza with sauteed arugula and chard and nasturtium leaves, then added some nasturtium petals to the mix for an extra peppery bite.

Even once the pizza was baked, some of that brilliant nasturtium color came through.  And the taste?  Yeah!  I'll do that again!

Then with earthy fall vegetables becoming the predominant produce in my refrigerator, I whipped up this version with sauteed kale and arugula (with a splash of really good balsamic vinegar), sliced golden beets -- yes, you read that right, beets -- some tangy Shropshire Blue cheese found at West Point Market in a recent excursion, and sliced almonds.  I know, it sounds just a little odd, but it was incredibly delicious and savory and yes, I'll have more, please, now!

Do you get adventurous in your pizza creations?  What do you enjoy?

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Monday, October 01, 2012

The Empires Strike Back!

The apple crop this year is smaller than average, thanks to the early warm weather followed by frosts back in the spring.  I've kept in touch with the folks at the local orchard to know when the U-pick would be open, knowing it might be a short season.

After all, My Adorable Nephews have been asking for weeks if we can go apple picking!  So the Southern Belle and I made sure that we could get out to the orchard earlier this year so as not to miss our chance.

We headed out yesterday afternoon, a sunny and warm time very unlike previous years when it was downright brisk!  Only three varieties were truly available for picking -- Golden Delicious, Empire, and Melrose -- so while the boys headed off to get a variety, I stuck to the rows of Empire apples and picked half a bushel on my own.

When planning my schedule and to-do list for the week, I made sure to book some time to deal with the apples right away.  Sure, some will be set aside for use in apple strudel bread and other treats, but I wanted plenty for making applesauce.  This afternoon seemed to be the best time to work on that project, so after lunch I started peeling, coring, and chunking the apples to cook down.

I wanted a thick sauce, so I took out some of the water (saved to use in sauteeing or some other cooking project later, in lieu of broth).  I ended up with only four pints, but since I still have a few pints from last year (or was that the year before?), I thought this should take care of my immediate needs.

And with that, I am done canning this year!

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