New Blog: Drawn and Quartered

Hey! Big things have happened. I’m currently living in Portland, and while Corvallis while always have a special place in my heart (and I’m there frequently to visit my sweetheart) I didn’t feel right blogging as the “corvallis” foodie when I’m sorta half here, half there. At any rate, I’ve decided to get a little less specific about the blog (at least for now) regarding my location. I don’t know where I’ll end up, but I know that where ever I am, I’ll be in the kitchen.

So, you can see all the current happenings, recipes and sketches at:

www.drawn-and-quartered.com.

I wanted to get into drawing again, so this blog will incorporate little sketches as well as photos and the same local food and tasty recipes you’ve come to expect. Someday maybe I’ll return in full force, but for now, I’m going down this rabbit trail. Come with me? It will be delicious.

 

Granola and Raspberries

 

I was out walking this weekend (before noon, if you can believe that) because it has been so hot here in the Willamette Valley. On my walk, I passed by Twedt’s and their u-pick raspberry farm was open! When I got home, I grabbed my picking containers and camera and went to get me some raspberries. At $1 a pound, you should swing by the farm on Seavy sometime. When I asked the lady who weighed my berries if they always had this price she said, “well, my grandpa started this farm and is really old fashioned, so raising prices is, like, a big deal to him.” Noted.

It was already past 9:30 am, and about 80 degrees out, so I wasn’t sure what I would find on the bushes. I picked for about an hour, in the quiet pocket of their farm. Not many people were out.

They have a rule that you can’t be picking on the same row as someone else (love that rule!) so you are left alone with your very own row of raspberry bushes about 50 feet long and 5 feet tall, your thoughts and your fingers, gently pulling at the berries to test for readiness. I felt a strange sense of peace about pulling on those little berries and feeling the resistance, knowing they weren’t ready yet, that they had ripeness and growth yet to gain. I was okay letting some of them stay on the vine. I felt happy to glean what was ready to be mine, and leave the rest for another day.

The ripe berries that were ready for me came off eagerly, plunking into my metal bowl.

Soon, an hour had passed and I had a pound and a half and about a dozen photos and revelations.

All this for $1.50. I can’t believe this is down the street from my house. Local food tastes so sweet.

On my way home, I remembered why raspberries mean so much to me. They are, in part, how I started this blog. I needed something positive to pour some energy into, and some where to talk about good ideas and food. For some reason, back around March of 2009, I made some granola I found in The Ski House Cookbook and I desperately needed to eat it with milk and raspberries-even if it meant getting up at 3 am and going to the store for milk (which it did).

That same obsessiveness still drives me; to go to three stores looking for wax beans, to buy $12 worth of organic peaches for a peach pie, to put basil in goat milk ice cream. This is what I do. Some have said to me that my cravings are worse then a pregnant woman’s. But I think they are my inspiration, my constant friends, my next idea. They become “what I’m doing this weekend” and “what’s for dinner”. Basically, I have the small talk covered. I’ll tackle the larger topics through the small ones.

So this weekend I made that granola again, and re-photographed it (back then, I also didn’t know anything about how to make food look good in a photo). That granola and those raspberries were a catalyst for change for me. Change for good things, change for a fresh start. Change can be really, really good. And it just needed a do-over. Looking back on it, I wanted to give it more justice.

But none of this occurred to me when I saw that “open” sign at Twedt’s. I just thought about the calling of summer, berry picking, and hearing the plunk plunk of berries in my metal bowl. I guess that’s what an hour in the patch will do.

Hey, did you know that you can make your own brown sugar?

Yea, apparently you just mix a couple teaspoons of molasses into white sugar with a fork. The best brown sugar you ever tasted. You want dark brown sugar? Keep mixing in more molasses. This has blown my mind. Recipe in The Homemade Pantry.

Maple Pecan and Coconut Granola
adapted from The Ski House Cookbook

Ingredients:

3 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats (not quick oats, but gluten free will work too)
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup flaked coconut, unsweetened
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 cup maple syrup, grade B
1 tablespoon light brown sugar

Directions:

Stir together the oats, pecans, coconut, sunflower seeds, cinnamon, and salt.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter, coconut oil, maple syrup and brown sugar over medium heat.

Preheat the oven to 325.

When the liquid mixture is melted (it should only take a few minutes) remove it from the heat and pour it over the oat mixture.

Spread onto a baking sheet.

Bake for about 23 minutes, stirring often. Be careful not to get too lost in your own thoughts and let the edges brown.

This granola is excellent with plain or vanilla yogurt or with milk and berries. Store in a jar or plastic bag, about 2 weeks. As The Ski House Cookbook says, once you learn to make granola for yourself, you’ll never pay someone else to make it for you again.

 

Hi. Here’s what I’ve been up to. January 11-February 22, 2013

Hey guys! You must be wondering what I’m doing? I know I am. Here’s a quick update:

1. My sweetheart started brewing beer and I made bread from his spent grains. Thanks Peter Reinhart!

2. I started a new internship at Brass Media and made some Doughnut Muffins for a co-worker’s (and old housemates) birthday. Way to impress, Joy The Baker!

3. Had an AH-MAZING dining experience at Sybarus in Albany on the 14th. Go there! (Also, I ate a lot of chocolate and drank a greyhound.)

Vodka and Grapefruit juice.

4. Did some homework. (sigh) My packaging class=hostile life take over.

5. Made granola. The very granola that started this blog, actually. Maple pecan granola from The Ski House Cookbook. It’s at the public library! I found it by accident 4 years ago. Back then, I was thinking about it until 3 am. I finally gave in, went down stairs and ate it. With raspberries. Some things never change. The smell of it baking took me right back to the place I was in my life the last time I made it. It was a little bittersweet.

6. Drank homemade ginger ale. (High five, lover.)

I hope you’ve been up to a little good and a little no good.

 

xo,

CorvallisFoodie

 

 

Cookbooks for 2013

If you hadn’t guessed, I’m obsessed. Cookbooks, food magazines, they crowd my bookshelf and litter my floors. I use my local Corvallis library A LOT and deeply appreciate them. Occasionally I have some late fees (oops! too many recipes, too little time) but I gladly pay any late fees and count it as a bi-monthly donation to one of my favorite city institutions.

I’m always looking on the “new books” shelf, as well as at Amazon and my bookstore to see what new, what’s coming out, and what stands the test of time (and my own kitchen). Here’s my strategy: I look online first. It’s easy and I can find a specific book or sub-genre quickly. Then, I look to see if my local library has it. If they do, I check it out and see if there is enough good stuff in there to consider purchasing it. I try to ALWAYS look through a book before I buy it. Two reasons: 1. I have an obscene amount of cookbooks. If I want to let one take up space in my home, it has to be good. 2. I don’t like spending money for things that aren’t that great, or a book I won’t actually use.  Take this one, for example. It’s gorgeous. But maybe not so practical. I enjoyed looking at it and promptly returned it to the library. Now this one, on the other hand, I bought because almost every page had a post it note on it when I returned it to the library. But I would never have known that if I had only seen it on Amazon. Use your library! They are free and full of little gems.

So what do I do if my library doesn’t have it? I look for reviews from other food bloggers, or stare at the photos on Amazon for so long that I give in, depending on the book and the price. There is this book, Sprouted Kitchen, which I may not have known was so awesome until one of my favorite bloggers, Joy The Baker said so. Except for this amazing salad, I haven’t cooked anything from Sara and Hugh, but I fully intend too– especially now that I can’t have eggs!

So here’s what I’m currently reading for 2013 (most photos from Amazon):

***keep in mind, this is for a cookbook library that is well stocked. If you want ideas for the basics, see my post: Cookbook Basics***

Make the bread buy the butter by Jennifer Reese and Dr. Cocktail by Alex Ott

These were on my Amazon wish list and my brother and his girlfriend (thanks John and Nessa!) got them for me.

(an image from Dr. Cocktail– the book has some lovely photography)

Bakin without the Eggs by Rosemarie Emro and Kevin Emro
(Thanks Dan and Sam!) What could be more thoughtful? I’m ready to tear into this one. I can see this being my go-to to help me learn the basics of egg-free baking (and a great jumping off point to modify the other recipes I see out there.)

This is A Cookbook by Max and Eli Sussman (aka to me and my pal Layla, the Two Attractive Men)
The adorable illustrations. The beer relief from making “f-bomb inducing” bacon (I love the honesty here). The gorgeous looking food. You had me at breakfast.

The Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger
I picked this up at Browser’s bookstore in Corvallis for 10 bucks! It looks like something that will be a great reference and trusted source. Fig walnut scones? Whole wheat basil bread? This looks like an inspiration filled book as well as a trusted go-to. I’ll let you know more as I try things on the Apartment Baker blog!

Currently Coveting and planning to buy:

Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman
From the woman who has brought me Babka, I am really excited to get this one and see what else is in store. Her blog always looks so good. Especially with all my drool on it.

The Sprouted Kitchen by Sara Forte (Author), Hugh Forte (Photographer)
See above. Also the photos on their beautiful blog are inspiring and simple and so bright. That’s the challenge with being a food blogger in Oregon (especially in the dead of winter)-the light tends to be more moody then bright and clean. But, hey, the food is still delicious.


Roots by Diane Morgan
You know you are in Portland when you pick up this book in an Anthropologie and an 8 year old tells you this is a “good book, my mom cooks from it all the time” with all the wisdom of cookbook editor. Kid, the future is wide open for you. And yes, I believe you.

My Bread and My Pizza both by Jim Lahey.
What a guy! This bread is amazing. His method is easy and simple and produces amazing results (I’ve never been disappointed, and I’m a tough critic when it comes to bread, or pizza for that matter.) I’ve been baking from my library’s copy of both of these books for the last 3 years. It’s time to put a ring on it.

The Homemade Pantry byAlana Chernila
I’m blown away! Two years ago it was Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It, then last year I added Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It (both by Karen Solomon) and this is a nice book in the same vein of those. The bread recipes I tried so far from The Homemade Pantry are the cure to any funk that may be hanging over you in these post-holiday weeks. And even though I’m not a mom, I still experience those people in my life who absolutely must be FED NOW! It really helps to have a great homemade snack around.

Gifts from the Kitchen: 100 Irresistible Homemade Presents for Every Occasion by Annie Rigg
Honeycomb! Marinated Goat Cheese! Pesto! Christmas treat boxes, may you never be boring! Also, the rest of the year needs some love too. Here, Annie gives simple and modern ideas for food to share with loved ones through the year. This is the best book in this section at the library. Sorry to say, the other books offering ideas for homemade food gifts looked like they came from the 80′s and offered nothing too inspiring.

Super Natural Everyday by Heidi Swanson
Here’s another one I heard about through Joy The Baker. Heidi offers simple, delicious and healthy food as well as a sweet and knowledgeable voice about food. The yogurt biscuits totally rocked my world, as well as the rye soda bread and dill butter.

Martha’s American Food by Martha Stewart
What can I say? I have so many of Martha’s books I almost didn’t want to like it this much. But after my second time checking it out and post-it noting it up… I had to admit that I loved it and simply must own it. The cornmeal muffins melted my resolve.

Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish
This one is on hold at the library. I am currently 2 in the que! I love the hold process at the Corvallis Library. I can shop for new books and they are there waiting for me in a day or two, unless it’s a highly popular book. But it’s kinda fun watching you go from number 11 to number 2.

Food in Jars by Marisa McClellan
This book is wonderful! It’s at the Corvallis Library and I just used it to make pickled brussel spouts (quick pickle version) for Christmas boxes, and last summer I used it to make Vanilla Strawberry Jam. Inspired canning recipes. Last year I added Put ‘em up by  Sherri Brooks Vinton after reading it, of course, from the library. I love it! My apple and pear chips came from this book and I love the way it’s organized by food. Another canning book I added last year was the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine. For new preservers, this book is the be all, end all. I was nervous about my first batch of pickles, and reading through the very specific steps put all my fears at ease.

Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads: New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor by Peter Reinhart
I can’t wait to try the bread with spent brewing grains! Perfect timing– my sweetheart just took up home brewing again.

Well, that’s quite a list, isn’t it? I hope I showed you some new books you hadn’t seen yet. Happy 2013 everyone, and get cooking!

xo,

CovallisFoodie

Cookbook Basics

With all the great new cookbooks coming out nearly every week, you may be wondering which ones you can trust, or which ones to invest some of your hard earned money for… especially if you want to keep your collection limited to the best or the basic. Here are a few suggestions from me (photos from Amazon.com)

If you are trying to find a cookbook for a gift and that person is new to cooking or a newlywed and trying to build their collection, take into account their skill level and desire. Nothing could be more basic then the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. This has very basic, classic recipes. However, if the person shows potential in the kitchen, they will likely grow out of this cookbook fast. I haven’t used mine in quite some time.

Perhaps a better option would be the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. I have used this at the beginning of my cooking life and still do today. Many of my favorite recipes come from here, and because the recipes are so well tested, they rarely fail. I especially like the step by step photos and charts this book has.

Here’s another one I swear by: The Real Simple Great Food Fast cookbook. (My only reservation is that they claim you can roast a whole chicken in 45 minutes, and this has never proved true for me) That being said, this is a great cookbook for newly weds or people who have just moved in together and are starting to cook together. The meals are quick, simple and delicious. I love the way this book is laid out by season too. I have used mine until it fell apart and I still reference it for basics like risotto and vinaigrette.

One last book I would add for a beginner: The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer. The only thing about this book I don’t like is the way the list of ingredients are written with in the recipe directions instead of at the top. Some may like it, but I find that I miss things I need, only to discover I don’t have a lemon or a 1/2 cup of milk right in the middle of cooking a recipe and at the very time when I can’t do anything about it (grr!)  Alas, necessity is the mother of invention, right?

I would easily stop my list there as a good starting place. These are basic and very helpful. Many cooks probably won’t need too much more.

But…. since I’m cookbook obsessed, here’s a few more to round out your collection:

Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table: Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Southern Alaska By Kathy Casey

Excellent appetizers, drinks and food. Love the beer cheese dip and bloody mary deviled eggs!

Martha Stewart’s Cooking School: Lessons and Recipes for the Home Cook

If you really want to get into the nitty gritty difference between a broth and a Vichyssoise or a shred and a julienne, this book is for you. Advanced for a beginner cook, but excellent for a beginner cook that doesn’t want to stay that way.

Baking Illustrated

Here’s another one from the people at Cook’s Illustrated. I love the scones, cinnamon rolls, and sandwich bread. This book has a lot of information about the science of baking too. You can read the pages of wisdom or skip to the recipe–for me it depends on my mood and time allowance.

Well, I think I better stop there because I could go on forever. But these are a good start. Until next time, keep cooking!

Christmas Treat Boxes

Every year. They look forward to it every year. Every year on Christmas Eve, I hand each person gathered at my mom’s house their own treatbox full of homemade candies, cookies, compotes and crackers. I started this tradition the first year I was married. I think what started it was when I read Martha Stewart’s Holiday Special (that fancy issue of her magazine that always comes out around November) and was truly indoctrinated. I had hoped those first treat boxes would be as sweet and perfect as all Ms. Stewart’s perfect pictures. In the end they weren’t- at best they were Albertson’s Bakery boxes with cheap wrapping paper covers, but the point is, what was inside was the start of something I’ll continue until I’m too old to whip egg whites.

Those first treat boxes contained about five different cookies and candies. In years since, the collection has expanded or contracted, save one year, the year of my divorce, that I skipped the boxes entirely on account of I was living with friends and was too mentally unstable to handle my first token batch peanut brittle burning (I look at this as a sacrifice to the Brittle Gods.)

I think what makes these boxes so special, is that no matter what recipes I think are trendy, or what skills I would rather show off, or what flavors make me feel reminiscent, the most important thing is to remember what they like. Example: My step dad hates the taste of cloves (goodbye Mom’s old gingersnap recipe). My dad wouldn’t really care about a black pepper chocolate shortbread cookie with sweetened pistachio filling. But he could reeeeallly use a pecan tart. You see? Think about your audience, and they’ll remember your little treats all year long.

I typically do a “sweet and savory” combination. Just when they’ve reached that inevitable sugar limit, they can reach for the homemade cheese and fennel crackers and voila. Saved, snacking uninterrupted. Well, for whatever reason last year I skipped the savory. I thought all they wanted was the sweet. Christmas Eve, there I was, proudly handing out the treat boxes. Everyone happily munched for half an hour on candied citrus peel, homemade marshmallows and caramel cashew cookies. Then someone said, “okay wow, enough sugar, where’s the savory stuff?” Ha! That’s when I knew. I forgot my audience. They look forward to the spiced nuts as much as they love the chocolate truffles (of course, they love anything I bring, but I know true joy when I see it, and joy is Bacon Onion Jam!)

When you bring cookies to a party, or hand them out as gifts, always think about your audience. Who are they? What is their personality? Would they try anything, or do they prefer the classics? They will really appreciate the thoughtfulness and consideration you gave them. After all, making others happy this year is what it’s all about. That would explain why my treatbox list this year includes things like banana ketchup, pickled brussel sprouts and gluten free vegan cookies.

I think why I like to do it every year, why I have to do it, is really to make them happy. There is so much satisfaction in that. Their eyes get wide reading the handwritten labels and unwrapping all the (much cuter now, might I add) packages–that’s the powdered sugar glaze on top of all this. And if they see that making all those things at home is possible, indeed, even easy, cheap and (sometimes) healthy (butter, sugar, let’s be real here), and get inspired to try some stuff at their house, well…that’s straight up salted caramel buttercream frosting on the peanut butter mocha cake.

 

Facebook Fans: Crockpot White Bean Chicken Chili

Ever since I got my new iphone I’ve been getting really snap happy. I can’t stop taking pictures of my lunch! Then all of you want to know what I’m eating even if I haven’t blogged it yet. So here it is, today’s lunch time special on the fly– a little bonus for you!

This is easy and cheap! It is made in the crockpot while you are off living your life! It’s ready when you get home. Just plan ahead only the tiniest of bits, and this will be a breeze to throw together.

The night before:

Soak 1 lb. small white navy beans in some water (enough to cover, at least 4 cups). Pick out any gross looking beans first. Leave the pot of water soaking beans on the stove waiting for you until morning. They do not need to be refrigerated. For some fun cost and energy related facts about beans, check out this calculation.

Cut up a white or yellow onion and slice 3-4 cloves peeled garlic.

Shred up 3/4 one whole cooked chicken (can be done 2-3 days ahead of time or rotisserie chicken. We baked ours in our toaster oven with a rotisserie attachment.

Add 1-2″ chunk of salt pork if you have it on hand. We often keep one in the freezer.

Assemble the following ingredients and have them ready for the morning. I even went so far as to set the can opener out. I’m too half asleep in the morning!

Set out:

2 quarts chicken stock
1 can fire roasted tomatoes (spicy blend if you can find it)
2 small cans or one large one mild or hot green chilies
2 tsp Dried Oregano
2 tsp Cumin
Epazote if you have it (optional) — 1 or 1/2 tsp

Put the onion and garlic, pork if using, and chicken back in the fridge near the front so you can grab it easily.

In the morning:

Drain the beans. Dump everything in to the crockpot. Stir.

Cook on high 6-8 hours. I did low for 8 hours and my beans were not cooked yet, so taste and put it on the stove to simmer if you like them more soft.

There you have it! This soup was topped with avocado, sour cream, cilantro, and green and red onions.

It is so satisfying, you will probably get about 10 servings of this. We had to put some in the freezer.

 

 

 

Oven dried apples and pears

You can do it. You are super mom with the home baked treats at the bake sale. You are amazing multitasker with even more amazing taste in shoes. You are moving and shaking like nobodies business. You are the one everyone shakes there head at and says, “Just how do you do it?”

That’s the power these little homemade sweeties have–even though they are a cinch to make, you’ll look like a rockstar. What could be better then some of these in your kids lunch box or an office snack?

These guys are perfect just as they are. Nothing added, because nothing needs to be. Nature knows what it’s doing. All we do is slice up apples and pears that have been cored and peeled, then add them to a big bowl of lemon water so they don’t get too brown. Pop them in the oven (or food dehydrator) until they are dry. Honestly they do take around 6 hours in the oven. So, put on a couple movies and chill on the couch. Perfect activity to do with kids on a rainy day. They can help you put all the apple pieces on the racks!

So, let’s get started….

Slice up the fruit:

Put the fruit in a large bowl of water with 1 lemon squirted in it. You can really do any amount and combination of fruit. I used apples from our yard and pears from a friends yard. I love friends with fruit trees :)

Then, when you are all done slicing and all the fruit has been in the lemon water for at least 10 minutes, lay them out in a single layer on wire racks. I like to shake off the excess water from each slice a little before putting it on the rack.

I stacked these racks 3 high and put them all in my oven at once. Stack! Stack!

You want the oven door to be cracked a little so the moisture can escape easily. If your oven props itself open about an inch that’s perfect. Mine wasn’t staying put, so I used the handle of a wooden spoon to wedge in there.

Bake at 170 degrees for 4-6 hours. Check them after 4 hours. If you can squeeze a couple slices together and they don’t stick, they are done. Store in bags or mason jars. (Also watch for condensation after you store them, if you see beads of moisture along the inside of the jar or bag, then they need to be baked longer.)

Oven Dried Apples and Pears
recipe adapted from Put ‘em Up! By Sherri Brooks Vinton

Ingredients:
1 lemon
cold water
at least 6 apples and 2-3 pears, but amount can vary (it’s easier to do a lot rather then a small batch.)

Directions:
Put the cold water in a large bowl and squeeze the lemon into it.

Peel, core and slice the fruit into 1/4″ pieces and put in the bowl.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees.

After all the fruit is sliced, take it out of the water shaking off the excess. Place in a single layer on racks and place in the oven.

Bake for 4-6 hours, checking after 4 using the tests described above.

Enjoy your rockstardom.

 


 

Resturant Review: Local Boyz

This place is a must visit for anyone new to Corvallis. The atmosphere is casual and comfortable. If you have a line at the door, the place is open. If there is no line, they’re closed.

So: what makes Local Boyz special? Da Sauce is a good place to start. Sweet and salty, this is the perfect topping for your rice, meat and mac salad if you ask me.

It’s a pretty serious thing around here. They put the sauce in bottles on your table, and it’s available for sale. I have a bottle. I love it on teriyaki, or rice. Sometimes if I’m out of soy sauce, I’ll add it to another asian sauce I’m making as a base.

The menu isn’t too long, but it offers enough options for everyone with original Hawaiin style eats like sweet shoyu chicken, and sweet ribs. For the vegetarian in your life there’s pretty much one option: Ray Ono’s Veggies with broccoli, snow peas, cauliflower and onions. Still, it seems like everyone loves Local Boyz. The amazing smell of the grill wafts down Monroe, tempting anyone walking by.

If you are a meat lover of all types and it’s your first time, get the Local Boyz Combo. It has there steak, chicken and ribs. The steak and ribs are juicy and have an excellent char-grilled flavor. The #24 (Regular size) is pictured above, but I’m full and take home leftovers from my #24a (Menehune size).

This is the 13a (Menehune), the teriyaki chicken breast with two scoops of mac salad. All Menehune’s come in this size box.

A word about the mac salad: It comes with everything. It is very creamy and mayonnaise-y. I happen to love it with extra black pepper.

Guess what else? They have a brunch item: Local Boyz Sunday Brunch (served everyday) is something I’ll have to get next time I’m here. Sliced Portuguese sausage, eggs, rice and mac salad. Sounds like a great way to start my day. Now where is dat sauce….

My group rated it 5/5 stars. Seating is limited, busiest times are 12-1 and 5-6.

Local Boyz Hawaiian Cafe
1425 NW Monroe Street
Corvallis, OR
541-754-5338
closed on Sundays

 

A Perfect Fall Day

My love affair with fall. It started before I was born, I’m pretty sure, since I’m a decidedly fall baby. I love my birthday. I love fall. The air is crisp. There is still excitement and a buzz from school starting, (also I love school and I’m weird) but it is still sunny, actually, golden afternoons take over and I just want to sit in a pumpkin patch. It is the season changing and new vegetables at the farmers market, sweaters in the evening at home curled up with the cats, or Oktoberfest celebrations and pumpkin beers.  I’ve met other fall birthdays and they all say the same. This time of year is the best!

I feel lucky to do something different this year…. cider pressing! Pumpkins and apples have enchantments over me. Well, today we focus on apples. I went and visited my international student friend Vahagn Azaryan at his hosts family’s farm.

Little did I know, this host family has about 40 acres and a history of preserving food! What an amazing property. We gallivanted through the apple orchards and (I stayed far away) talked to the sheep. V also let us use his cider press. If I could make out with a piece of antique farm equipment, I think this would be the one. Sorry if that was graphic. I love this old fashioned farm fixture:

So! Here’s what you do:

Number one: pick your apples. The more variety the better, says V.

Number two: wash them and put them in a bowl. So far so good.

Number three: Call some friends!

(that lovely lady in the orange hat is Layla Hubbard, ciderist extraordinaire.)

Number four: Cut up the apples, removing any bruised spots or rotten centers.

(photo credit: Vahagn Azaryan)

Number five: run the apples through a garbage disposal contraption! (that’s a technical term…)

(photo credit: Brittany Albertson)

Number six: Put the pulp you now have through the cider press (the most lovely machine ever)

The cloth there helps to catch the solid elements and strain the juices out. Like 10 layers of cheese cloth, but much easier to work with.

Number seven: look at all that glorious juice!

Number eight: Pasteurize. Only to 160 degrees. This kills the E. Coli should there be any, but note that this is not boiling. According to V boiling changes the flavor and we don’t want that.

And that’s it! The tastiest cider I’ve ever had. Better then the farmers market. Supremely local. No pesticides. You can really taste the mix of apples and the layer flavor each of them adds. We dived it up and went out to see the sunset.

What a day at the farm!

Good work, people!

Time to go home. Cider in hand. Fall is so good to me.

Thanks V!

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