Sunday, October 26, 2008

Marianne's Apple Pie

I am NOT a fan of anything that involves flour. I tremble at the idea of making a decent pie crust and for that reason have avoided making pies all my life. But every time I invite my friend Marianne to dinner she brings THE most perfect apple pie. So when Marianne offered a "pie workshop" one rainy morning earlier this month, I decided I needed to attend.

Marianne's Deep Dish Apple Pie
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

8 Cortland or Macs

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup flour

sprinkling of cinnamon

3 Tbs butter cut into dots
Peel, core and quarter apples. Slice quarters into four equal slices. Sprinkle, sugar, flour and cinnamon over apples and shake the bowl (Do NOT mix it up, just SHAKE the bowl). Set aside.

Pie Crust:
3 cups flour

1 tsp salt

3/4 cup Canola Oil

8 Tbsp COLD water

Place flour and salt in a bowl stir with a fork. TO the oil add the cold water and whisk until mixed. Add to the flour and stir with a fork. Do not over mix. It should look like this:Divide in half and place between two sheets of wax paper. Roll out until it is larger than the pie plate you are using. Keep the dough round by using the rolling pin as a radius to the circle of the pie and roll in a rounded fashion out from the center like this:After you have placed the first crust in the pie plate, add the filling, and dot with butter. Then roll out the second crust. Remove excess dough and pinch lower and upper crusts together. Then crimp with thumb and index finger around the edge of the plate:Slice openings in the crustSprinkle with sugar and place in a 350 degree oven. Check after 50 minutes. Filling should be bubbling and crust golden but not brown.May I recommend a a godsend that I have acquired recently. It is called a pie crust bag and it make rolling out the dough much easier for a beginner.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

First Frost

Why does it always catch me by surprise? I should know by now that still, clear nights in October are potentials. So gone is the lingering basil ... the dozen or so tomatoes ... the dahlias. And like someone who was standing partly on shore and partly still in the water of a summer garden, I am now firmly on shore. Any reluctance to put the garden to bed, has vanished and I am now in earnest on the other side of summer. *sigh*

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Russian Olive vs. Autumn Olive: Inquiring Minds Want to Know

I am no expert here, but yes there is a difference between the two . They are both from the Oleaster Family and both are listed as invasive. Russian Olive's scientific name is Elaeagnus angustifolia and the Autumn Olive's is Elaeagnus umbellata. Here in New England, at least, it is the Autumn Olive that is our invasive nemesis.
Perhaps the best way to tell them apart is that Russian Olive has stiff thorns, and the silvery scales that adorn only the bottom side of an Autumn Olive leaf, are on both sides of a Russian Olive leaf. And this time of year, one would see on the Russian Olive a more yellow to orange colored fruit, instead of the bright red of the Autumn Olive.

While I am no fan of this invasive, I must say that I have grown to love the fragrance of their flowers in the air in late May. The first whiff just stops me in my tracks. And their high density of the antioxident, lycopene, has SOME looking to make a cash crop out of the pest. Check this out.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Autumn Olive Recipe Time

I have a confession to make. If it weren't for my Autumn Olive Jam Recipe, I would have lots fewer readers. It seems that all over the country people are wondering what they can do with the fruit of these invasives.

I still have jars of jam from last year, so this year I thought I would make fruit leather. All summer I had been meaning to buy a dehydrator, and here I am a the end of the season without one, so this recipe will be for the oven dried variety of fruit leather.

My objective in making the fruit leather was to use it cut up in small chunks the size of dried cranberries to use in salads. I didn't want too sweet a flavor.

Why eat Autumn Olive berries?

I like the berries because they have that cranberry flavor that we associate with eating game in the fall months. But the best reason is that it is an unexpectedly rich source of lycopene ... nearly 15 times that of raw tomatoes.
Picking the berries

Not all Autumn Olive bushes are equal. Before you start loading your buckets, roam your picking area and taste them. I find that bushes that get morning sun, but shade from 11:00 AM on yield the sweetest berries. The sweeter the berry, the less sugar you will need. Although sweet is a relative term here ... these berries are a might tart. I look for plump bright red berrries. I use a shopping bag as my bucket and place the fruit laden branch inside the bag and strip them from the branch. For rthis recipe you will need 4 cups of pulp. I had to pick about 7 cups of berries.

Autumn Olive Fruit Leather
4 cups of Autumn Olive Berry pulp
1 Tbsp Lemon juice (optional)

2 Tablespoons local honey (helps make the leather more pliable)
10 drops of liquid Stevia

To make the berry pulp, add one half cup of water to every 4 cups of berries and boil on the stove until the seeds have separated from the berry. (I actually added sprigs of mint to the berries at this stage. It is also where you would add the lemon juice if using.) Run through a food mill or a sieve and return pulp to a saucepan on the stove. Add the honey and Stevia. If you want a sweeter fruit leather, then add sugar one tablespoon at a time to the simmering pulp, tasting for desired sweetness.
Lay a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and spread the pulp on the parchment to a 1/8-1/4 inch thickness. Place in a 140 degree oven (mine doesn't stay that low so I did mine at 170 degrees) for 10-12 hours. You can tell if it is ready by peeling it from the parchment and by touching it in the center of the tray. When it is done it will be tacky but not sticky. Also when it has cooled it is more likely to be less sticky than when you test it when it is warm.

Storing the fruit leather

I decided to cut mine in half lengthwise. I stored one half by rolling it in plastic wrap and putting it in the freezer. The second half I halved again and put a plastic wrapped roll in the fridge and the other half I cut up into little pieces to use in salads where I would normally use dried cranberries. These I stored in a glass jar.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Distractions from the garden

There is not much happening in the garden. I have little to show for a fall crop save a few undiscovered potatoes, some Brussels sprouts the size of my baby fingernail and some scrawny kale and Swiss chard. The next real task is to prepare the second of two garlic beds for planting mid-month.

So I have been amusing myself building garden structures. Last year when Janice Shields came to the arboretum, I made a pea trellis which has served me well this season. Yesterday Janice returned, and I spent 5 hours with her and other neighbors as we each built our own rustic garden bench. Pretty spiffy, huh?