Monthly Archives: October 2013

To Market…

One of the first things I do when I go on vacation is find the local Farmer’s Market.   I love seeing what the locals buy and spotting new items from area farms, bits of the earth still clinging to the roots.  

Walking past the colors and shapes, I can’t help myself…  I have to pick up piece after piece.  Holding it in my hand, feeling it’s heft.  Bringing it to my face, I smell everything from berries to beets;  peppers to herbs.   I am enthralled.   The beauty of food hasn’t been lost on me,  I have yet to become jaded and for this I am grateful. 

Every market is a different experience,  each offering something unique and sometimes things I have never seen or tasted before.    That is when I really get excited,  when I stumble upon something completely unfamiliar.   I begin to imagine all of the possibilities…   That’s the fun in experimenting with something unfamiliar;  there is nothing to compare it to, so you can’t possibly go wrong!  

Here’s where I think some people tend to take a “wrong turn” so to speak…  Fear of failure.  Or, less than perfect.   The people that know me are probably about to roll their eyes at me right now, because I have a teensy bit of an issue with being a perfectionist.  Hey, I’m working on it.  
Don’t be afraid to buy something that you are unfamiliar with; stepping out of your comfort zone is the only way to grow and learn.  Yes, sometimes it’s a bit uncomfortable and perhaps a little painful at times but in the end, it’s usually worth it.    Experiment a little and see where it takes you… 
You may end up creating something magnificent.    

This is my best advice when going to a Green Market:  go in with a rough idea of what you’d like.   
If you are shopping for dinner that night or the next night, peruse the different stands and see what looks good, then plan your dinner.  If you go in with a menu that is  “set in stone”, you may miss out on something really amazing.   That’s usually the way life seems to work out… 

Union Square Green Market, Manhattan
peppers

green pepper
 

La Boqueria, Barcelona
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gambas

Boqueria

 Prospect Park Green Market, Brooklyn
Grand Army Plaza Market 029

Grand Army Plaza Market 013

Grand Army Plaza Market 004

Grand Army Plaza Market 015

Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market, San Francisco
San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco
 

San Francisco

San Francisco

Support your local Farmers and Green Markets!   Fall produce is amazing right now, be fearless in the kitchen!   Buy something you’ve never worked with before and get cooking!   I look forward to hearing about your culinary adventures…

 

(Pear) Butter Me Up…

Pear Butter

Recently I found myself with about 7 pounds of pears that were ripening faster than I could consume them.  Normally, this would never happen as pears are one of my favorites and generally don’t last long enough to even get mushy,  yet here we are.

There were ideas swirling around in my head as to what I could do with them, but none of them really thrilled me so I put out a call on the Facebook page for ideas.   Sometimes you just need to get out of your own head, you know?   Get some fresh ideas and perhaps learn a thing or two…  As usual, my friends came through.  I had a dozen great ideas in under 5 minutes.  It pays off to have “foodies” for friends!  Then, my “wish-she-were-really-my-sister” came through with “you could use this as a filling for sweet rolls”.  Well, that girl knows just how to get to me.  From that point on, it was all I could think about. 

I rushed to make it, take photos and write the recipe;  then life got in the way and it took me two weeks to write it up.    So much for planning…   I am still swooning over the idea of this being used as a filling for sweet rolls.  (That Jenni is a bit of an evil genius)

Now that I had decided on the fate of the pears,  it was time to get everything set up for canning.  Let me preface this by saying it is not imperative to can the pear butter.  Feel free to store it in the refrigerator if you are certain it will be consumed within a week or two.   I happen to get giddy over that “ping” of the lids sealing and thus am drawn to canning like a moth to a flame.   It adds 15 minutes to the process and I can leave them in the cupboard or give them to friends as gifts, well worth an extra fifteen minutes if you ask me and your friends will be impressed with your kitchen prowess…  they needn’t know it wasn’t all that difficult.

pear butter 001

pear butter 009

 pear butter 008

Pear Butter
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Total Time
3 hr 30 min
Total Time
3 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. 5 pounds very ripe pears (Bartlett or Anjou), roughly chopped (do not peel or seed)
  2. 1/2 cup Elderflower liqueur (or Bourbon)
  3. 1 cup brown sugar
  4. 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  5. 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  6. 1 star anise
  7. 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  8. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. In a large, deep pot, combine pears, elderflower liqueur or bourbon and 2 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil and cook over medium high heat for approximately 30 - 40 minutes until fruit is falling apart.
  2. Run mixture through the fine mesh of a food mill to remove seeds and skin. Return puree to pot and stir in brown sugar, lemon juice ginger and salt.
  3. Simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, until thick and amber colored. (about 2 - 2 1/2 hrs)
  4. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla.
  5. Makes 6 half pint jars
  6. If you want to can the butter, sterilize jars & lids, spoon butter into jars and process in a water bath for 10 - 15 minutes.
Notes
  1. The original plan was to use bourbon with this... Only to discover I had none and did not feel like going out to buy some. I happened upon elderflower liqueur and it was quite the happy accident. It worked beautifully here.
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