Crisp fall air and leaves turning shades of red and burnished orange, the crackle of them under your feet as you walk down the street with hands snuggled deep inside your pockets. Autumn is by far my favorite season. The temperatures begin to cool down at night, calling for an extra blanket or a down comforter. This is something I miss now that I live south of the Mason Dixon line. It’s only been 3 and a half years, but I doubt I’ll ever really get used to the lack of (distinguishable) seasons.
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.
- 5 pounds very ripe pears (Bartlett or Anjou), roughly chopped (do not peel or seed)
- 1/2 cup Elderflower liqueur (or Bourbon)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 star anise
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 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.
- 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.
- Simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, until thick and amber colored. (about 2 - 2 1/2 hrs)
- Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla.
- Makes 6 half pint jars
- If you want to can the butter, sterilize jars & lids, spoon butter into jars and process in a water bath for 10 - 15 minutes.
- 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.
I’ll be honest with you, I was in the grocery store with a big loaf of crusty bread in my hand thinking “What’s the big deal… I’ll just buy it instead of making it”, but I JUST. COULDN’T. DO. IT.
So, I put that gorgeous loaf of bread back amongst it’s friends and headed home to start the focaccia.
I pulled out the stand mixer, made my dough, let it rise… Placed it ever so lovingly on my sheet pan to puff up again before sliding it in the oven… And yet, something was amiss. It just didn’t look quite right, but I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. Once it was time for the bread to come out of the sauna, I realized I had a bit of a problem.
Not really sure how I screwed it up, but it was more of a focaccia pancake. It didn’t rise properly and looked rather pathetic. So I salvaged what I could, not wanting to waste everything and started over.
Truth be told, the Ohio State game was on and I was a tad distracted… There, I’ve said it. I wasn’t paying attention to my work, I was watching football.
That’s what happened.
Well friends, just because Halloween is behind us don’t think you have no use for pumpkin patches until next year. Many of them, like this one, grow amazing varieties of squash.
Everyone knows how I feel about supporting local farmers and buying food that was locally grown whenever possible, so I will refrain from going on and on about it today… but, just in case you don’t:
Please support local farms!
The past two weeks have been a weather nightmare here and we are all in need of a little comfort. For me, that usually comes in the form of something warm from the oven. This particular time, the oven also served as heat for my apartment. I had purchased a perfect little Hubbard squash and since I had lost my heat it seemed an opportune time to do something with it.
If you have never had Hubbard squash before, you are in for a treat. The flesh is slightly drier than acorn or butternut and it is a bit earthier in flavor. The bluish-gray color and deep orange flesh is beautiful and makes for a striking contrast.
Any kind of roasted squash is, for me, the perfect fall food and if you are the type that likes to change up for your holiday menu this would be a great addition to the meal. As I have professed before on this very blog, I am NOT the type to change my menu, but adding to it is absolutely permissible.