Apple Crisp for Breakfast

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We have one apple tree. The first year we lived in this house it was loaded with apples. Come October we had plenty for pies and jam and whatnot. Last year we had exactly zero apples. Spring frost got all the blossoms. This year we returned to the bounty of that first year.

These are Red Delicious apples. Those are your standard, stereotypical apples. You know the ones. They look like, well, like a storybook apple–red and shiny and tapered a bit at the base. They are terrible. Well, most of them are terrible. I would never buy Red Delicious apples from a supermarket; they are bland and mushy and dry. But these Red Delicious are, indeed, delicious.

These are sweet and juicy and crisp. I took advantage of their current ripeness to make an apple crisp today. I woke early, the only one awake, so I got cracking. I peeled and sliced and stirred and assembled a fine apple crisp. After 45 minutes and a house full of apple odor I pulled a perfect breakfast from the oven.

I know apple crisp is not your typical American breakfast, but if we can eat donuts and danishes they we can eat a fresh apple crisp. And it was, as expected, enjoyable to consume. I only had one bowl, at first, but I did have seconds later in the morning. Hard to resist, that.

I put the rest in the fridge, even though it is tempting to eat the whole dang thing. A guy needs to eat something for breakfast tomorrow, you hear what I’m saying?

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Cranking Out Some Dinners

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There are definitely times when I am not on top of making up quality dinners in our house. I do get lazy. We don’t always end up together for dinner. But I do feel that dinner as a family is important. I want it to happen every night. It is one time during the day that we all sit together and connect. It matters. And lately I have been making some decent meals to make that sitting together worth it.

Those vegetables in the photo above, tossed on top of some buttered orzo, was one dinner not to be missed. I made that a couple of times recently. I also made chili with fresh biscuits. And smooth squash soup with honey oat bread. Tonight I made up some burritos.

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Beans simmering before getting wrapped

Some fresh garlic, two kinds of beans and some spices. Dump that into some locally made flour tortillas (So flaky! So light!) with shredded extra sharp cheddar and steamed broccoli and you have yourself a delish dinner. Simple and a winner.

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Hot and ready to be dressed

I need to mix things up a bit. I do have a couple dozen dinners I make in rotation. It is a solid rotation but I need to take some time to gather a few new recipes. Maybe I will try something with polenta. Or a new take on shepard’s pie. Those one-pot meals are certainly handy. I’ll do some digging and come up with something new

It is the harvest season. There is always something to whipped up with squash or potatoes or late greens. If I can’t figure out something new I can always just make apple pie for dinner. I can’t imagine I will get any complaints with that on the menu.

Tofu Pot Pie

IMG_0686For over ten years now one of the favorite dishes in our house has been tofu pot pie. We got the recipe from a good friend on a visit to Idaho. The recipe (or an approximation of a recipe) was hastily written on the back of a page of a transcript of an interview about a timber sale. It has rudimentary directions but enough for me to understand it and to make the pie scores of times. I made it again last night.

The original recipe is a little different. It calls for mushrooms and not potatoes, but I love potatoes in a pot pie and mushrooms are not always appreciated by some members of our household. It has a few other modifications as well, which were added after many attempts to try something new. This takes some time to prepare, no question, but it is worth it. Here is the recipe:

TOFU POT PIE

Crust

2 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup butter

1 teaspoon salt

5 Tablespoons water

Mix salt and flour in a food processor. Cut butter into chunks and add to food processor; mix until it forms loose crumbs. Add water in stages until dough starts to cohere. Pack into two flat discs, one slightly larger than the other, and wrap in wax paper. Chill for at least an hour.

Vegetables

1 onion

2 celery stalks

2 large carrots

3-4 potatoes

1 cup peas

½ teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon pepper

salt to taste

1 ½ Tablespoons tamari

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Chop onion, celery, carrots and potatoes into ¼ inch pieces. Cook in large sauté pan in olive oil on medium high heat until potatoes start to get soft. Add spices, salt, peas and tamari. Set aside.

Tofu

14 oz. extra-firm tofu

1/3 cup flour

2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 ½ teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon garlic powder

3 Tablespoons olive oil

Cut tofu into ¾-inch cubes. Mix flour, nutritional yeast, salt and garlic powder in large bowl. Coat tofu well in this mixture. Brown coated tofu in hot oil in large sauté pan and set aside.

Gravy

½ cup nutritional yeast

¼ cup flour

1/3 cup olive oil

1½ cup cold water

2 Tablespoons tamari

In dry hot large sauté pan, toast flour and nutritional yeast for a few minutes. Add olive oil and whisk into a paste. Add water and tamari and whisk well until blended. Remove from heat.

Assembly

Heat oven to 400°.

Roll out bottom crust and insert into 10-inch pie pan. Add half each of the vegetables, tofu and gravy, then add the rest in additional layers. Cover with top of crust and seal.

Bake at 400° for 30 minutes. Crust should be slightly browned. Cool for 15-20 minutes before serving.

Serves 6-8. Total time to prepare and bake: 1½- 2 hours.

Busy Kitchen Today

Ready to dress some pizza pies

My daughter is into making cupcakes lately. She got a cupcake cookbook for Christmas and has been busy crusting its pages with flour and eggs and confectionary sugar. She wanted to make some chocolate cupcakes today but did not want all of them to be chocolate. She was making half a batch (I mean, we can only eat so many cupcakes) so had to halve the ingredients to start with. Then she split the batter and planned to add cocoa to one half. She had to halve twice to figure out how much cocoa to add. It was a good math problem. And what a mess.

That got cleaned up. No problem. The kids have friends over for the night so we made homemade pizza for dinner. I spent some time slicing and sautéing and grating toppings so everyone could make their personal pie. I made the dough, even though we did not have enough flour when I started. I didn’t know we were short on flour but I found out soon enough. My wife was out and so eventually brought more, but the dough sat for a while before I could finish it off. It was quite the sponge.

Making individual pizzas takes lots of counter space. It was a respectable mess to attend to, but I cleaned up most of it before dinner and the rest after those pizzas were consumed. Dishes done, pots washed, counter wiped down. We’re good. Then it was time to make breakfast.

As a treat for the weekend and the sleepovers, I figured I would make waffles. The problem with that is that I need to start the day before. I used to make your usual baking powder waffles but once I tried yeasted waffles there was no going back. You make them with yeast instead of baking powder, as you may have guessed, which means they need to rise. Of course, if I let them rise on the counter I would have to get up a 3:00 am. Not happening. So I whipped up the batter and stashed it in the refrigerator. Slow rise, ready for breakfast.

This, of course, was one more mess to clean up, which I accomplished with a rosy attitude. I like a clean kitchen. I think I’ve got all the loose kitchen accoutrements and plates and spatulas washed at this point. I was thinking I might have a little ice cream. But that would mean another bowl to clean. Nah. Who needs ice cream anyway?

Making Pesto

We have, out in our garden, what I described to my lovely spouse as an insane amount of basil.  It has been, I admit, far too long since I have made pesto. I haven’t gotten around to it once school started and work kicked in and things just got busy. But now it is starting to go to flower, and we need a pesto fix, and we have an insane amount of basil in our garden. So this afternoon I picked and picked and made four double batches.

The first batch I popped into a glass vessel and saved for immediate consumption, meaning dinner tonight.

Batch number two I put into a freezer container–two cups–and stashed in the freezer for this winter.

I combined batches three and four into one 4-cup container and added it to the getting-full-with-summer-produce freezer as well.

So we will be good with pesto for a while, especially since, even though I picked 16 cups of basil leaves and made a half gallon of pesto, we still have an insane amount of basil in our garden. I will be able to make maybe two more gallons. That is just nuts. I know we can use basil for other things, but, um, why?

Here is my recipe:

Combine 4 cups basil leaves (washed and spun dry), 1/2 cup nuts (walnuts or cashews or pine nuts if you can find some) and two to four large garlic cloves in small pieces in a food processor; mix until well blended.

Add 1 1/2 cups shredded parmesan cheese and 1 teaspoon salt and process to blend.

With the food processor running, add 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (the good stuff–none of that light crap) until completely blended and smooth.

Makes two cups. This freezes well in a tight container.

Bon appetit and all that.

Potato Harvest

The kids and I dug up all our potatoes the day before yesterday. It was like digging for buried treasure. They had as much of a blast as I did. Turn the soil and find some food.

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I wish I had a scale. I have thought maybe 149 times that I could use one, but I have not taken the effort to get one. I planted five pounds of seed potatoes and all told, with the potatoes we already pulled from the dirt earlier this summer, we harvested 40-50 pounds of potatoes. That is a guess, of course, but probably close.  That paid off.

First into the Basket

We have two varieties–one purple and one white. Right after we dug them up we boiled some of the white one and ate them with salt and butter, along with the corn we bought. A simple and fine dinner.

Bucket of Potatoes

I plan to store a bunch of them so we can be eating potatoes at least into the fall. Hopefully I can make them last. I still need to pull the onions. They won’t keep as long but they will last for a couple of months. And I need to make pesto. And those melons are looking close to ripe. And pumpkins. We’ve got lots of food these days.

Garlic Out of the Ground

Made a garlic braid tonight for the first time. It came out pretty fair. I have another batch still in the ground, but I dug up the rest of this variety since, A: it has been ripe for the plucking, and B: I needed some anyway to make pesto. I whipped up two batches and popped them in the freezer–that ought to hit the spot come January. Can I say that it is amazing that I planted single cloves and they grow into plants with whole bulbs? That is my theme of the summer–amazement at how plants grow from seed to food.

So here is my garlic, now hanging over the sink to keep the vampires away.

Before Braiding

Braided, Ready to Dry