Saturday, July 20, 2013

Inspiration


When you've been cooking as long as I have, sometimes it's hard to get inspired about one. more. meal. It can seem like a forced march when inspiration is lacking. Nothing new about pork chops with thyme, grilled corn and broccoli. Same old, same old.

Except when a friend, in this case Cassie of Garden Girl from whom I get my free-range eggs, gives you an unexpected gift of old-fashioned Gravenstein apples from her own tree. One rarely sees these old varieties in the supermarkets - they long ago decided on Pink Lady, Fuji, Red Delicious, and Granny Smith, easy keepers and predictable sellers. I love those varieties, too, but it's fun to try different ones from time to time.

When I lived in western New York state, apple harvest was a wonderful time of year. The cool springs and buffering effect of the Great Lakes make it a splendid fruit growing region. Macintosh came first, followed by all sorts of other varieties, Rome Beauty and Cortland, Jonathan and Braeburn, to name just a few. Everyone had their favorite varieties for canning,  pies, cider, and eating out of hand, and would discuss them with serious intent, comparing and proselytizing, the way Californians discuss restaurants.

All the orchards sold bushels and pecks of apples for sauce and baking. I used to make my applesauce with apple pie flavors and give it as Thanksgiving gifts. 

Many orchards also ran presses during the harvest season - you have never tasted cider so good. It was cloudy and rich with fresh apple taste. On a crisp fall day, nothing tastes better. It is the custom there to pair the cider with an old fashioned raised donut, heavy and sweet. I ate one each year, just for the sake of tradition, but our preference was really just for the cider.

Returning from memory lane, for our pork chops I peeled a couple of Cassie's small Gravensteins and softened them in a buttered pan with some onion, the added a dollop of Dijon-style honey mustard. Mixed that around, covered, and let it cook for five minutes or so. The Gravensteins soften immediately, so fast that clearly they'd make great applesauce; the onions took slightly longer. But, overall, it was a quick and easy way to dress up some plain. old. porkchops.


With some of Cassie's ripe tomato sliced on the plate, it made for a colorful and inspirational dinner, and some mellow memories of an earlier life.

11 Comments:

Blogger nancy namaste said...

Here's a whole list of recipes for apples. I substitute green apples when ever I can for any kind of cooking. I like them chopped into spinach or made into a pancake. The tart taste holds up to cooking.

http://www.chow.com/galleries/237/42-great-apple-recipes#!4814/green-apple-sparkler

Saturday, July 20, 2013  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

That looks really nice! Maybe if you varied the sides from time to time, it wouldn't feel so repetitive.
Do you know about the Gravenstein Apple Fair in Sebastopol? It's next month. :-D

Saturday, July 20, 2013  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Nancy, these Gravensteins were green apples, but soft in texture anyway. Still tasty despite the softness.

Cookiecrumb, it really was good - nice, mustardy flavor. We were up in Sebastopol last week and did note the Gravenstein Festival, but I think we will be out of town.

Saturday, July 20, 2013  
Blogger nancy namaste said...

I know that you have mentioned how your husband just loves Brussels sprouts (ahem). I make this recipe but all chopped green apples and bacon. It's pretty good: http://www.wholeliving.com/131097/shredded-brussels-sprouts-lemon-and-poppy-seeds?czone=eat-well/healthy-dinner/healthy-side-dishes&center=144884&gallery=142676&slide=41106

Saturday, July 20, 2013  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Nancy, I will have to save this recipe for My Beloved's next business trip. Cookiecrumb pointed out that he will never really like sprouts and I need to stop forcing it. She was right. Now, I have them when I see them on a restaurant menu, or when he is away. Seems only fair.

Saturday, July 20, 2013  
Blogger nancy namaste said...

Agreed about the Brussels sprouts. I am not found of them myself but I do like them prepared this way. If you like cauliflower, there's a wonderful recipe on the blog "Chocolate and Zucchini." I know that I have wandered away from the topic of apples but I am wont to wander.

Saturday, July 20, 2013  
Blogger Diane said...

memories of my yellow transparent apple tree when I lived in Wisconsin. made the most wonderful applesauce. thanks for the memories.

Sunday, July 21, 2013  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Diane, don't you just love apple names?

Sunday, July 21, 2013  
Blogger nancy namaste said...

This brought back memories of the crab apple tree in my grandparent's back yard. It yielded tons of the tiniest, sour but crisp apples. My grandmother used to make the best apple tarts, applesauce and a kind of an apple conserve with them. She also added currents, blackberries (picked by my sister and me) and Ranier cherries to her conserve. Johnny Appleseed have us such a great legacy; it's a shame that so few cultivate the older varieties.

Sunday, July 21, 2013  
Blogger Zoomie said...

What fun that this post brought back such a ranger of apple memories! Thanks for sharing yours.

Sunday, July 21, 2013  
Blogger Diane said...

I do love apple names, and all the memories collected here.

Monday, July 22, 2013  

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