23 September 2007

tomato season

It's that time of the year when there's so much food that's fresh and local that it's overwhelming. Part of this is that you know that in a month it could be snowing.

Between this week and last I've bought and used forty pounds of plum tomatoes, twelve pounds of cabbage and all sorts of other wonderful things. The tomatoes ended up as a tomato tarte tatin (no photo! and it was the best I've made!), twenty-two pints of canned tomatoes and probably twelve or thirteen pints of sauce (we had a housewarming that involved the tatin and lots of sauce with fresh pasta and olives). Best of all, forty pounds of fresh local tomatoes for a total of $25.

Sauerkraut is fermenting in the back room in what was the best birthday present ever: a two gallon "bluebird" crock. All twelve pounds of cabbage made it in there and it's now covered in it's own brine. (I only added salt, juniper berries and caraway seeds). It doesn't taste like it's there yet, but it's only been a week.

And that delicious savoy cabbage in the photo made it into a great Deborah Madison creation: savoy cabbage sautéed with lacinato kale and white beans. Very very satisfying.

12 September 2007


I started with some water and flour and some grapes from a neighbor's yard (no yeast added!):

And now I have this:

Using a Wild Fermentation recipe, I made a starter (actually, two: I doubted the first but it has since come into its own). The first starter got foamy and yeasty so I strained the grapes (the white on grapes being naturally-occurring yeasts) and then it went dormant. I started another. I waited. I almost wondered if they had gone off as they taste(d) sour. I'm guessing that's the sour in sourdough. Then I transferred both to an open window on those warm days of last week -- and voilà! -- now I have two active starters. Sour and yeasty like a sponge for a dough. Hopefully tomorrow I'll see how they stand up to dough, rising and baking.

roast duck

Sunday I made myself a full-on Sunday dinner. I roast a duck (simply, with just sage, thyme, onion salt & pepper as seasoning -- the herbs being part of my garden-in-pots, all that's left as we just moved) and some vegetables (leeks, potatoes and rutabagas). The duck was very very good -- I roasted it following Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1. -- and I had it with a pinot noir-based gravy (easier than her stock-port reduction, frankly). The vegetables I basted with some duck fat, instead of the usual oil, and they were nicely caramelized (and the rutabaga wonderfully sweet.)