Thursday, September 25, 2008


I’m making apple butter this weekend. The apples – an entire paper grocery bag’s worth of Macintoshes – are sitting by the window in the dining room, filling the air with their crisp sweetness.

It feels good to be making apple butter again. Last year we couldn’t get ourselves and our ramshackle house together in time to make it happen, and as a result, it felt like we had cheated ourselves (and all the friends and family who enjoy our apple butter) out of the enjoyment of autumn. If I have energy, I may end up making a second batch this year; I can already see the jars flying off the shelf for gifts, leaving none for me!

I’ll return with an update on the aroma and the general apple butter-making experience later this week or next.

In other food news, Mr. Incredible and I have decided that jasmine rice is the only acceptable rice for Thai food. After getting a little tired of the super-cheap Goya white rice we’ve had in our pantry for eons and the brown basmati – which is great, but doesn’t go with everything – I sprang for a bag of jasmine rice the other day. We’ve been making a lot of Thai food recently – more often than Indian, which has been a staple in the past – so I thought it was fitting. Well, fitting is not the word. It’s sticky, but it holds its shape. Moist but not mooshy. Slightly translucent, but a rice of substance nonetheless. In other words, it’s perfect to receive that coconutty gravy with its range of meats and vegetables and aromatic basil garnish that we all know and love so well: Thai curry.

I’m still stocking the freezer and finding ways to cook the randomness it contains. Last night I added cottage pie to the growing premade meal section, and also discovered I have a few challenging items to use up: a pound of phyllo dough, a large bag of accumulated chicken bits intended for stock, a small tub of what I think is last fall’s tomato sauce, and several bags of pitted plums.

My last attempt at spanakopita was delicious but time-consuming and only used up half a pound of phyllo. I do, however, remember a recipe for modified baklava with pistachios, as well as one for a Greek spinach pie, which both call for the phyllo to be cut up and piled loosely on the top of the dish – not authentic, but a definite time-saver. And since I do most of my cooking after 8 p.m. now – the time of day when I feel most pregnant – that’s pretty appealing.

I guess I probably need to make some chicken stock, too, and I have a new way of dealing with the plums: coffeecake! It’s an unexpected combination, but the cooked, gooey tartness of the plums actually works well in this context. I foisted my first plum coffeecake experiment on our church sometime in August, and although no one had any idea what they were eating, it was a definite hit.

This obsession with canning and stocking is fairly typical for me at this time of year. Yet I can’t help but think that the impulse to stock up for the cold winter has been intensified this year, both by the realization that, as the semester goes on, our finances will likely get tighter and tighter, and that by the end of the semester, there’ll be another mouth to feed. So am I nesting? Perhaps . . . although I’d hate to admit that I am participating in a clichéd, hormone-induced rite of pregnancy. I’ve generally thought of nesting as a flurry of wallpapering and painting and rearranging the nursery, but I suppose it’s possible that nesting could take other forms, such as stocking up on food.

Pregnancy aside, this is definitely the time of year for squirreling away nuts for the long winter. What are you preserving, stocking, freezing, or saving for the cold months?

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