Five years ago this weekend, K and C were both going to a church retreat. We didn’t know each other well, but C needed a ride so I offered to give one (in retrospect, it’s not clear why he needed a ride since he had a car). But it was a fun ride over to the retreat center, in the Santa Cruz mountains. We talked nearly the whole time, and listened to Alanis Morissette. When we got there we had a great weekend. On Saturday night, we went out with a bunch of new friends to a bar in town and thus began the tradition of Thursday night pub night…something we miss a lot now that we’re here in Boston. At the bar, we also met an inebriated gnome (it was Halloween weekend after all, and in Santa Cruz no less). He gave us this form letter (Gnome Letter) to send to our Senator the Gnome and/or Fairy Captors. Needless to say, it was a fun night. And a fun weekend all around. At the end of the weekend when I dropped him off, C suggested we might get dinner sometime. And the rest, as they say, is history…
Nostalgia and new things October 22, 2010
There are things (a lot of them) that we miss about California. One of them is that the Dish was just a 10 minute walk from our house (and then another hour to actually walk it!)
It’s hard to beat this:
But there are new things here that are pretty neat, too. Just down the street from our house (a five minute walk) is Fresh Pond. Pond is the word they use to mean “lake” here in Boston. There’s a running trail around it, and it’s a pretty great place to be – especially in the fall:
To state the obvious, Fresh Pond isn’t in the foothills/mountains. But it has more trees (=more color in the fall), and the lake is beautiful. And, it’s easier to run, since there’s no elevation gain!
Doesn’t mean we don’t still love the Dish…but there’s now a special place in our hearts for Fresh Pond, too.
After Applepicking, Addendum October 16, 2010
First, the pressed apple cider that we got when picking apples was so tasty that we went back for more, yesterday. It was much less crowded this time around, and C had fun throwing rotting apples into the farm’s goat and pig pens and watching the animals fight over the treats!
Also, we tried this recipe from The Gourmet Cookbook, and it was just so good we had to share. We served it with green beans and roasted fingerling potatoes.
Pork Chops with Sauteed Apples and Cider Cream Sauce
3 Tbsp butter
1 shallot, minced
1/2 cup apple cider
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 tsp dried sage
1 1/4 cups chicken stock/broth
2/3 cup heavy cream
6 pork loin chops (or however many you have people)
3 apples (not red delicious or granny smith, but pretty much anything else would work) – peeled, cored and cut into 8 wedges
2 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
Melt 1 Tbsp of butter in saucepan over med-low heat. Add shallots and cook until tender, about 5 min. Add apple cider, cider vinegar, and sage, bring to a boil and boil until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 8 min (took me a bit longer).
Add 1 cup stock and boil until reduced to about 3/4 cup (about 12 min). Add cream and boil until reduced to about 1 cup (about 8 min.)
Meanwhile, pat dry pork chops and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tbsp of butter over med-high heat in a skillet until foam subsides. Add chops in 2 batches and cook, turning once, until just cooked through, 6 -8 min. per batch. Transfer chops to a warm platter and cover loosely with foil.
Pour off fat from skillet. Add remaining 1 Tbsp butter, then add apples and cook over med. heat, turning occasionally, until golden and just tender, 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and toss with the brown sugar.
Add remaining 1/4 cup of chicken stock to skillet and deglaze by boiling over high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, for 1 minute. Stir deglazing liquid into sauce, along with any juices from meat platter. Transfer apples to platter with pork, and pour sauce over top.
Hope you enjoy it!
After Applepicking October 5, 2010
We went apple-picking this last weekend – it was a beautiful day, and an important step in becoming New Englanders. Our friend L from Stanford was out for the weekend and really wanted to go…so we couldn’t resist tagging along!
Now we have 15 + pounds of apples to eat! In addition to apple slices, we’ve made apple crisp, and today I canned 6 jars of caramel apple jam. Tomorrow I think I’m going to try my hand at apple butter (since I still have 6 half-pint jars).
In any case, it was lots of fun (there were also cider donuts and fresh apple cider). And, it reminded me of one of my favorite poems of all time:
My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there’s a barrel that I didn’t fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn’t pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it’s like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.