Most days, I like to eat pretty sensibly in the morning. A couple eggs, a forkful of kraut and beans are regular staples on our plate. But if there’s pie in the house, you can be darn sure I’m eating it for breakfast.
I’m not particular; any kind will do. Classic apple is always nice, though the tartness of cherry plays nicely against a bracing cup of coffee. During the holidays, pumpkin pie is perfect for both the beginning and end of the day.
It’s easy to justify as a breakfast food. After all, pumpkin pie employs three food groups: Grain in the crust, dairy in the form of butter and cream, plus protein from the eggs in the custard. Heck, it’s even made with a vegetable. It’s practically health food.
But diet food, it ain’t. That’s why, when I’m craving breakfast pie, I fall back on the next best thing: Pumpkin butter. It’s a great delivery mechanism for the flavors of pumpkin pie, without the added pound of butter and pint of cream.
Slathered on an English muffin, you can almost trick yourself into believing you’re enjoying that slice of pie for breakfast. Well, maybe before you’ve had your coffee.
Continue Reading Like Pie for Breakfast (Sort Of)
In preserving, as with most things, it’s all about the right tool for the job. To the untrained eye, one mason jar may look more or less like another, and while it’s true they all get the job done, each has its strengths. For example, wide-mouth jars with shoulders are particularly good for when you need to pack things in and not have them float, like pickles or whole fruit. I have a cache of more than 50 quart jars that we use almost exclusively for our annual tomato-canning extravaganza. And while you can never have enough half-pint jars for jams, I also really love the tiny 4-oz. jars expressly because they make quick, cute and inexpensive gifts.
But there are two jars that have particular use: The Ball 12-oz. quilted jars and 24-oz. pint-and-a-half jars. Each of these is 50% larger than their standard counterparts (half pint and pint, respectively), and each has a straight, cylindrical profile. This, then, makes them perfect for canning long, narrow things, like asparagus — and green beans.
When I’m feeling a bit peckish, I don’t grab candy. Salty snacks and crackers have a siren song, but even then I can navigate those waters. No, my ultimate go-to bite is a pickle. It ticks all the boxes: Cool, juicy, salty, tangy. And if it can be a bit spicy, so much the better. Dilly beans tick all the boxes. You can settle in front of the tube with a big bowl of popcorn; I’ll curl up with a jarful of these slender, spicy spears.
Continue Reading Bean There, Jarred That
While the rest of the country swelters, we’ve been enjoying one of the most gloriously mild and sunny summers I’ve experienced in more than two decades in San Francisco. Normally around now, the city is covered with a heavy, wet fog, and blustery winds slap sheets of it in your face like a cold washcloth. Instead, once the morning fog pulls back, it’s been downright nice, even occasionally what passes for hot around here. Like, in the 70s.
If you’re in the scorched center or eastern parts of the company, maybe you’re looking for some of that cold washcloth treatment to cut the edge. I can’t deliver the fog to you, but I can offer you a solution that’s almost as good.
Think about it. When else do you sit around sweating in unreasonable heat and humidity? That’s right, in a sauna or steam room. And what refreshes in said environment? Spa water. Only, we’re talking summer here, and mere water just ain’t gonna cut it this time. No, clearly this calls for vodka. Ice. Cold. Vodka.
Continue Reading Summer Spa Water, or Cucumber-Infused Vodka
Smoky burgers fresh off the grill. Savory BLTs with tomatoes fresh off the vine, still warm from the sun. Club sandwiches with crisp lettuce, salty bacon and creamy avocado. All of these things are mouthwatering all on their own. But to my mind, each of them needs a foil, a companion condiment to bring out their best: a pickle.
Continue Reading Quick Pickles Pick Up Your Summer Sandwiches
I’m absolutely crazy for stone fruit. From the moment the first cherries come in, I quiver in anticipation of what’s to follow: sweet-tart plums and pluots, gushingly juicy peaches. I most look forward to the apricots, seductive and demure.
I could eat a bushel of them right out of hand, but apricot jam is my favorite, bar none, so every year I hunker down and make a bunch. Apricots don’t need much; their flavor blooms as you cook them down, but they also take nicely to a little spice. A few peppercorns, some cardamom, perhaps half a stick of cinnamon all bundled into a cheesecloth sachet will leave a subtle undertone to your jam. But if you want to create something special, crack open a few of the apricot pits and toss the kernels into the sachet.
Continue Reading Going Ape for Apricot Preserves
I’ll admit that I have a soft spot for those Day-Glow red maraschino cherries that lurk in the murky depths of the classic Manhattan. They’re nostalgic, and always good for a bar bet if you can tie the stems with your tongue. But let’s face it: They don’t really taste much like cherries. Or, for that matter, anything but sugar. And red.
In the interest of having a cherry that tastes like a cherry, consider making your own maraschinos. It really couldn’t be easier, other than the grueling effort of pitting the stubborn little buggers. (This can be greatly expedited by employing eager, young hands and one of these swank tabletop cherry pitters.) Or not: You can leave the pits in some or all; they lend a pleasing, almond-like flavor to the final product. That flavor happens to come from – ahem – cyanide, but it’s in quantities small enough to be merely delicious, not deadly.
Continue Reading Cherry Condition