Archive for September, 2011

September 27, 2011

Thanksgiving in September

I promised I would share a surprise.  Well, here are all the details.  But first, we have to back up a couple weekends:

“Let’s go to the Cape for Thanksgiving this year,” I told David at dinner that Saturday.

“Why?” David knows that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday right up there with Christmas.

“So we can get away, do something different.”

I told him my reasons: we aren’t going to get vacation time together until spring, we’ve been wanting to get away for a weekend anyway this fall.  Then I paused, thought, and said,

“And my sister won’t be here to celebrate, which means whatever dinner we have will just not feel right.”

David realized that this last comment was perhaps the most important reason: I just didn’t feel like celebrating Thanksgiving if I couldn’t do it the way we’d done it for the past five years.

“Why don’t we celebrate early this year when she comes for the conference next week?” he suggested.

It was brilliant.  Suddenly, I was excited about Thanksgiving again.  So we made a menu, planned, prepped, baked, moved furniture, and worked all weekend for her arrival Sunday evening.

And we had a delicious, festive dinner.  We ate so much food, and drank delicious apple martinis.  We had a great time, and it didn’t matter that it wasn’t November.

I tried something new for dessert: I call them Apple Pielets.  I hope you enjoy!

Apple Pielets

4-5 medium-sized apples
1 Tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Pie crust

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Peel and dice apples, test to be sure you have enough by gently mounding them into four ramekins.  Add more apples if needed.  Pour apples into a medium-sized bowl and mix in butter, sugars, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Stir until juices form, then gently mound back into ramekins.

Roll out pie crust and cut 4 circles the size of the ramekins (I used a large water glass).  Place one pie crust circle on each ramekin and carefully slice for holes into the top.  Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar if you want.

Bake at 350F for half an hour, or until tops begin to brown.  As the pielets cool, they will deflate – just enough to put a dollop of vanilla ice cream on top!

September 25, 2011

Bread and Hen of the Woods

I’ve been working on a big project over here at Beyond Burgers and Bratwurst.  You may have noticed on the right-hand navigation that I’ve added a twitter account (I have entered into the world of twitter, it is no longer safe!).  If you’re on twitter, you can follow me @beyondburgers.  I’ll see you there!

But even more exciting (I know, what can be more exciting than twitter??) is what I’ve been up to in my kitchen this weekend.  I really want to share with you.  But I can’t.  Not yet.

Tomorrow, I promise!


In the meantime, I will leave you with some delicious photographs I took this week.  My sister flew in from Germany on Wednesday.  She brought along a surprise:


Brezeln!  But that’s not all.  My sister knows I love German bread.  So she also brought my favorite bread from one of my family’s favorite German bakeries: Fünf Korn Quark Brot from Gauker!


This bread is a whole wheat bread, with a moist crumb thanks to a fresh cheese called quark, and a delicious crust covered in seeds (sunflower, poppy, and sesame seeds mostly).  It is so flavorful and delicious.  I can eat it with just cheese and be happy as a clam.

Also, yesterday I went to the farmers market to pick up my monthly meat CSA.  I saw these mushrooms and couldn’t resist!  Hen of the Woods are native to North America (and Japan, where it is known as Maitake).


It also goes by the name of Signorina mushroom in Italian-American communities.  It is delicious.  The farmer said that it grew on their farm, and although it was pricey ($20 a pound!) I decided it was okay to splurge.  And besides, my local coop sells shiitake mushrooms for $17 a pound.  This isn’t much more, and certainly a lot fresher!

Hen of the Woods are incredibly hard to wash, and I’m afraid it was still a bit gritty when I was finished cooking with it.  But who can blame me?  It even came with a bit of moss!  It was still excellent.

I hope you’re all enjoying your Sundays too.  I promise to share more details tomorrow!

September 21, 2011

Home Canning is Industrial Food

This past weekend, I turned my kitchen into a home factory and preserved 26 pounds of tomatoes.  Why do I say factory?  Well, beyond the fact that I developed a home-scale version of a factory production line (blanch, peel, chop, drain, measure, can, cool, repeat for next batch), canning is a form of preservation that has its roots largely in what we now call the military industrial complex.