Pinterest is full of amazing things: ways to decorate your spare pool house, crafts you can make out of used condoms, vintage pictures of Liza Minnelli. It’s great!
Pinterest is also full of foods of all sorts. Vegan ham sandwiches, liver cupcakes, fifty ways to use Vienna Sausages, it’s all there. Not only can you find these recipes, you can find a recipe to celebrate any season, holiday or event.
The perfect shade of green
I have noticed that some bloggers get a bit, well, exuberant when it comes to holidays. One look at Pinterest tells you exactly which holiday or event is coming up. See pictures of ‘Chili Cheese Dog Chicken Wing Nachos’? The Superbowl is coming up. If a glimpse of ‘Chicken and Lamb Wrapped Hard Boiled Eggs with Duck Sauce’ catches your eye, you know Easter will soon be upon us.
Delicious Irish mix-ins
Sometimes I come up with really great ideas when I have a little bourbon in me. This is not one of those ideas.
Adding deliciousness that’s the color of the Irish flag
Now I’m a sucker for an Irish Drunken Cake. Give me a recipe for Colcannon, and I’m happy. I’ll eat a green colored cupcake with orange sprinkles on top with a happy heart. But I wanted to push the green colored, shamrock shaped envelope. I wanted to see if I could top such dishes as ‘Green & Orange Frosted Lucky Charm Rice Krispies Treats’. Or ‘Irish Whiskey Frosted Guinness and Bailey’s Irish Cream Cupcakes Stuffed with an Actual Irish Car Bomb So You Can Eat Sweets and Be Culturally Insensitive As Well’. I wanted to see how many Irish foods I could put into an actual recipe. I wanted a recipe that would capture the quintessential St. Patrick’s Day spirit that causes college students to drink green beer.
The following recipe is the ultimate of St. Patrick’s Day awesomeness. I have put every ounce of my Irish heart and soul into it. Get ready to have your shamrock socks blown off.
Green Shamrock Shaped Guinness Infused Potato Irish Cheddar Bread Corned Beef Sandwiches with Orange Mayonnaise.
Note: This recipe is a very fluid process. No knead bread is a simple thing, and I’m not going to give you complicated lists of ingredients. Just follow along, and you too can un-canonize the man who drove the nonexistent snakes out of Ireland.
Fun with dough
Ingredients and Directions:
The key to any good recipe is using the finest ingredients. If you want this recipe to work out, you need to use the finest Irish cheddar you can find. Guinness is also mandatory. I realize that you may prefer Murphy’s Irish Stout, but tradition stops for no one.
Measure out 3 cups of all purpose flour into a large bowl. Add 1/4 teaspoon yeast and 1 teaspoon salt to the bowl. Mix well.
Making your shamrock
Open the Guinness and start to measure out 1/4 cup beer into the bowl. Stop. Look at that beer. Do you really want to waste it on bread? Run back down to the store and pick up a six pack of the noblest of beers, American made Pabst Blue Ribbon. Pour 1/4 cup PBR into the mixture while wearing skinny jeans and thick framed glasses. Put on your favorite album by a Bonnaroo artist. Make sure it’s on vinyl. Open the Guinness. Drink.
Looks just like a shamrock!
Pour 1 cup water into the bowl. Stir the beejeezus out of it. Cover your bowl and let sit for 12-24 hours.
Wake up in the morning. Take a deep breath and prepare yourself for the task at hand. Get up and procrastinate making the bread for a few hours. Decide you will feel no shame and put on your finest green colored clothes. Look and don’t find your shamrock earrings. Put your pink handcuff ones on instead. Get ready to dive into Irishness.
Gorgeous finished product!
Look at your bread dough. Experience it. Now add a few drops of blue and yellow food coloring. Be reminded of the time your mom sobbed over the cake she made for your eighth birthday because the grass on the cake came out diarrhea green. Smile at this fond memory. Pour a glass of Irish whiskey.
Stir and knead to distribute the coloring evenly in the dough. It will be a very wet dough. Color correct if needed.
Cook 3 medium red potatoes until they’re almost done. Dice up into 1/2 inch pieces. Eat some underdone potato. Why? Because it’s potato, and potatoes rule.
Dice up 3 ounces of Irish Cheddar. Grab a block of store brand cheddar out of your refrigerator because there’s no way in hell you’re going to waste expensive Irish cheddar in this recipe. Dice the store brand cheddar into 1/2 inch cubes. Happily nibble the Irish cheddar in between sips of your whiskey. Say to yourself “What the Hell!” and finish off the rest of the PBRs. Take a quick ride on your single speed bike. Come back home and cleanse your palate with more Irish cheddar.
Sawing your shamrock
Stir the potato and cheese cubes into your dough. Make sure to distribute them evenly throughout. Smirk at all the people who shorten St. Patrick’s Day to St. Patty’s Day. Everyone knows it’s St. Patrick’s Day. St. Paddy’s Day if you’re nasty.
Shaping the dough takes skill and concentration. This is not something to take lightly. Shape the dough into something resembling a shamrock. Realize you should never attempt challah.
Look at the cheesy, potatoey goodness!
Transfer your shamrock onto a piece of parchment paper placed on a sheet pan. Dampen a kitchen towel and place over your shamrock. Put in a warm place. Go relax for a bit. Sober up because you’re going to be dealing with hot things. Safety is paramount.
After you’ve let the dough rise for two hours, remove the kitchen towel from the risen dough and preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
After the oven has pre-heated, bake your dough for 40 minutes. Pull the bread out of the oven and behold it’s glory. Let cool.
Check out that vibrant color!
Realize that you haven’t started braising your corned beef. Think about heading down to the grocery store on your single speed bike. Realize this probably isn’t a good idea. Grab some ham out of the fridge instead.
Pull out your food coloring again and dye your mayonnaise orange. Realize there is no way to cut your shamrock into slices, but making buns out of this bread should be easy. Pull the petioles off your stem and slice into lengthwise. Try to remember if this is the right term from sophomore biology, decide you don’t care and spread orange mayonnaise on both pieces of your shamrock. Pile the corned beef(or ham) onto your breast (that was a typo but it sounds like more fun than bread) and throw some cabbage on it. Put the two sides together.
Condiments are fun!
Make a McLynchburg Lemonade or drink a beer, eat your sandwich and revel in your glorious Irish heritage. Attempt to write a blog post about this sandwich and convince yourself that spelling and grammar errors are part of the creative process. Listen to your husband remark that he’s never been so glad to be gluten free. Let St. Patrick’s day spirit infuse your body, for everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.
If I had to name my top ten favorite movies, I’d spend at least a couple of hours finalizing my list, picking through the films I love and figuring out which ones were worthy of being included (Showgirls!). One movie that would make it without a second thought would be Annie. I love that freaking movie.
I used to park myself in front of the stereo on Sunday afternoons when my parents were “taking a nap”. I was 25 years old before I realized what they were really doing. I’m grateful I never figured that out in my teens. Sitting there with my ginormous headphones on, I’d tune the strange knobs on my Dad’s equalizers, enjoying how I could manipulate the sounds and colors on the stereo. The records that I wore grooves in were by bands like The Moody Blues, Abba, Chicago and an album known as “Annie – the Soundtrack”.
I love my mom, but I’m still bitter about missing my chance to be a star in that movie. They held auditions in our city, and I desperately wanted to go and try out. My mom nixed the idea, wisely deciding that if I ever were to become a child star, I’d end up at Studio 54, snorting lines of coke with Drew Barrymore.
I would have made a spectacular Annie. I would have made an amazing Molly. In retrospect, I probably would have made a better Pepper, but please don’t tell my 7-yr-old self that. And getting the part of Annie would have proven that I could have red hair every bit as cute as my stupid little brother’s curly, red hair.
Feel free to blame my parents now for not being organized and not knowing where the pictures of me dressed as Annie for Halloween are. Those pics are gold. Instead, enjoy this picture of me in an Elmo hat. It’s the closest thing I’ve got.
Be afraid, little children. Be afraid
I still know every line in in every song from that movie. Give me the name of a song and let me loose. I’ll do the best rendition of ‘Dumb Dog’ that you ever heard. Some people brag about knowing every song that the Grateful Dead ever sang or being able to sing all the words in “It’s the End of the World as We Know It”. I mean – I can do that too, but belting out “Tomorrow” is so much cooler.
I’m pretty much past my Annie prime. I still could be a spunky ragamuffin that could charm a lonely, gruff mega millionaire’s heart. But that would be kind of creepy. Not the charming a mega millionaire’s heart. The part about having to dress and look like a 12 year old.
But one part I know I could still play to perfection? Miss. Hannigan. Miss Hannigan is the shit. The main reason? Two words – Carol Burnett.
Other reasons include her fabulous taste in fashion. Feather boas, slinky negligees, tasteful multiple strands of cheap necklaces – Miss Hannigan put the sass and ass in class. She danced like a goddess and knew the best way to clean house was not to get your fingers dirty. She was also a good person! She didn’t let her brother kill Annie!
The most kickass thing about Miss Hannigan? She wasn’t going to let a little thing like Prohibition get in the way of an after dinner drink. Or a before breakfast, after breakfast, before lunch, after lunch, before dinner, midnight snack drink. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and if a bathtub had to be sacrificed to the gin gods, so be it.
My uncle lives in Texas and sent my family these gorgeous grapefruit. Since I’m such a generous soul, I took most of them and have been eating them and turning them into cocktails. They were so amazing that I wanted to do something special with them. I made marmalade. You know how people stick a bird on it? I stick gin on it.
Marmalade is a strange thing. No matter how many steps or voodoo magic you try to work, it will always have a bitter component to it. I like it; it keeps the sugary fruit from being too cloying. My husband hates grapefruit almost as much as he hates coconut. That’s a lot of hate. He shivers when I eat one. He likes this marmalade. Screw the Oscars. I’ve got enough validation right here in my own home.
Enjoy! If you don’t have a bathtub, feel free to use gin out of a bottle.
General Canning Notes: If I can avoid it, I don’t use any kind of commercial pectin in my canning unless it’s Pomona pectin. When I use regular pectin, 95% of the time it gets rubbery enough that it can be used in regulation racquetball competition.
Recipe Notes: This is not an exact recipe. You’ll need to at least use the amount of sugar I listed in the recipe, but if it doesn’t taste sweet enough, add more. I cooked this marmalade at a simmer until close to the end. You can keep yours at medium if you’re watching closely and stirring frequently. Back the heat off if it starts to foam up and boil over.
Scary “Oh my God, is it going to gel” Notes: Answer? Yes. I used to rely on the saucer in the freezer tip, and it made me feel like a moron. A candy thermometer is my best friend. 220 degrees is the holy number.
Kristina Writes the Longest, Damn Recipes in the World Notes: Yes. Yes, I do. The majority of the recipe instructions below have nothing to do with the recipe. I’m still wiped out from cancer last year, so I’ll admit I took a nap afterwards, but y’all will have no trouble making this. It’s not a complicated recipe. You will feel like you’ve properly stocked your family for the end of the world. You’ll feel like a badass and a little bit like Glenn Beck. Sorry about the last part. Buy gold.
GRAPEFRUIT POMEGRANATE & BATHTUB GIN MARMALADE
Makes: 2-3 pints and a little extra that will get stuck in your hair (I canned the marmalade in a combination of 1/4 & 1/2 pint jars)
3 large grapefruit (mine were gorgeous, beautiful monsters. All together, they weighed 3 pounds) plus 1 more grapefruit (last grapefruit is optional).
Rinds from 2-3 of these grapefruit.
1 lemon, medium size (snag a lime while you’re at it, but it’s optional)
1 cup pomegranate juice (I used POM brand)
3.5 or more cups of sugar
1/2 cup gin
1) Juice the first grapefruit. Juice a lime. Make a simple syrup (I use 1 part sugar to 1 part water. Simmer to combine). Pour 2 ounces gin in a cocktail shaker (mainly because this makes me feel like Tom Cruise in Cocktail) and add grapefruit juice, lime juice and simple syrup to taste. Make this mixture a little bit strong. Shake and pour over ice in a highball glass. Or ladle some gin out of your bathtub into a flask and tell your liver that you’re very sorry.
2) Remove the rind from two or three of the grapefruit. I used a vegetable peeler. Do not include the white pith. Remove the rind of one grapefruit this way. Think to yourself that this is fucking ridiculous and be a lot less careful removing the rind from another one. Some pith here and there will not kill you.
3) Put your grapefruit on a cutting board in a shallow pan with edges. This makes your kitchen the slightest bit less sticky when you’re done. Understand that you will still get marmalade in your hair at some point, and if you have kids, they’ll end up sticking to the fridge like they’ve just used superglue. Laugh at them and continue on with the recipe. Cut the grapefruit in half and cut out the sections (the little areas between the wagon spoke shaped membrane) as best as you can with a knife. If you’re a badass and have a grapefruit spoon, use that and feel superior to the rest of us.
3) After realizing that you now know where every single cut on your hand is located, dump all of these grapefruit sections as you cut them into a large saucepan. Squeeze the pitiful looking grapefruit remains over the saucepan to extract the most juice that you can. I ended up with almost 4 cups of fruit and juice.
4) Put the pieces of rind in a small saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Dump the rind into a strainer and let all the water drain out. Add those to pan with the grapefruits and their juice. Add the pomegranate juice. Stir.
5) Add the 3.5 cups of sugar to the pan. Mix in well. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and reduce to a vigorous simmer. I cooked mine a little higher than the low setting on my stove. Skim up any foam that collects. Do not drive yourself crazy trying to remove every bubble of foam. If you feel the need to do that, make another drink.
6) Put your candy thermometer in the pan. Do not let the thermometer part touch the bottom of the pan. Mine is encased in metal, so it can’t touch. This is very handy, especially after you’ve had the two drinks.
6) Time to start tasting to see if you used the right amount of sugar for your taste. A warning – jam, jellies & marmalade turn into plasma. Countries use it as a chemical weapon. Let that spoon cool down. Taste. If you want it sweeter, add more sugar.
7) Once the thermometer gets up to 210 degrees, add the gin. You will be very heartbroken to see the thermometer plummet. Have faith, young grasshopper.
8) You are watching a boiling pot. Time will bend, so a chair and another drink is really helpful right now.
9) The temperature will hit 220 degrees. Wait a few minutes to make sure you’re not imagining it. Do a little dance, makes a little love, and pour into containers. Store in the fridge or freezer. I got hardcore and canned it. Marisa has an amazing set of instructions for boiling water canning. She is the Yoda of all things preserved & pickled. This marmalade needs to process for 10 minutes. Marmalade will continue to set up over the course of a week.
10) Wait to hear the plinking sound the jars make when they seal and yell “Fuck yeah! I’m Laura Ingalls, bitches”. Revel in your awesomeness. Make another drink if that helps. The next morning, put any unsealed jars in the fridge.
11) Go take a shower. You’re sticky, and your hairstyle is approaching Something about Mary grossness. You’re disgusting.
12) Understand that you’re perfectly justified in feeling annoyed that I tried to be clever in the instructions of this recipe and leave a comment on this post telling me to STFU and just post the damn recipe next time.
No green food coloring was used in the making of this drink.
I have never been one for fruity, over-sweet cocktails. I like my bourbon neat, and I’ve never found a margarita mix that I could tolerate. I think this process started in college. While most of my friends were getting carded every time they ordered a Sex on the Beach or a Long Island Iced Tea, baby-face me got away with ordering a vodka tonic with a twist of lime almost every time. From an early age, I was well on the path to becoming a cocktail snob.
My husband jokes that I like manlier beers than he does. It’s true – give me a stout, and I’m a happy girl. But I’m game to try any kind of cocktail. It either needs to be the kind of refreshing drink that you crave when it’s 90 degrees out like Watermelon Gin Fizzes or a Route 69 Cherry Limeade. If it’s not something that’s going to cool me down, it needs to have an intriguing element to it like lavender (Kid Curry Cocktail) or basil (Peach Basil Sangria)
The McLynchburg Lemonade is not one of those cocktails. At all. And yet, I still adore every single sweet, fruity gulp of it.
I had my first Lynchburg Lemonade at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. This place is amazing. It looks like a Sandals Beach Resort, a hideously huge McMansion, Pigeon Forge and a botanical garden all got together for an orgy, and 9 months later this hotel was born. As a child I occasionally went to brunches there with my parent and participated in Easter Egg hunts, so I have a soft place in my heart for it. Is it tacky? You better believe it. But it’s tacky in such a refined way that you actually feel posh when you stay there. Its presence almost makes up for the fact that they ripped apart my beloved Opryland Theme Park and turned it into a steroid infused mockery of an outlet mall. The Opryland hotel has also provided me with the sweet, sweet image of Sarah Palin giving a speech standing in front of a podium that had “GAYLORD” posted in big letters across it.
The first time I took my husband to Nashville, I told him he had to experience the Opryland Hotel. It was too glorious to be missed. I brought him to the restaurant in the Cascades Atrium because it was where I had my first Lynchburg Lemonade. I have no idea if this still goes on, but at one point there was a nightly light and water show there. A man dressed in white would play a gigantic white piano in what had to have been an homage to Liberace. That show was another formative step towards my love for all things camp.
We each ordered a Lynchburg Lemonade. We sat there looking at the pulsating fountains and tropical trees all around us. And then my husband turned to me and said “Not bad. I bet we could make this better. This tastes like a mix.” I looked deeply into his eyes and said “Let it be done.”
As soon as we got home we made them ourselves, and they were better. Every once in a while we’d make and drink them, usually while sitting on our upper porch that we like to call “The Veranda” when we’re feeling fancy.
The topic of Lynchburg Lemonades can be very controversial. Some things in the South are sacrosanct and should not be changed, but there is no way in hell I would ever buy a container of sweet & sour mix. So we make our own sweet and sour mix (it’s very similar to this recipe), and we sometimes change it up with a more natural lemon-lime soda than Sprite. You may do these things as well, but here’s the “real” recipe for a Lynchburg Lemonade.
One hot August day we decided a Lynchburg Lemonade was in order, but there was no Jack Daniels to be found. The only whiskey we had was a bottle of Bushmills Irish whiskey. We defiled that whiskey, and we defiled it hard. Into the Lynchburg Lemonade it went, and it was delicious. We decided to name that drink a McLynchburg Lemonade, because O’Lynchburg Lemonade didn’t sound as dumb.
So we created a new holiday ritual in our home. Every St. Patrick’s Day we go to a fine purveyor of spirits in our fair city. Every St. Patrick’s Day we ask them what kind of moderately-priced Irish Whiskey they recommend. And every St. Patrick’s Day we enjoy the look of horror that spreads across that person’s face when we tell them what we’re going to do with it.
Have a gloriously fun St. Patrick’s Day everyone. And for the love of all that is holy, stay away from the green beer.
2 part Irish Whiskey
2 part sweet and sour mix
2 part triple sec
8 parts Sprite or lemon-lime soda
Add ice and give it a good stir. If you’re feeling all Sandra Lee and want to garnish it up, stick some lemon slices and cherries on the edge or in the drink.
The Clinch River is one of my favorite places in Tennessee. Sure – It’s a creation of TVA and that in itself is a strike against it. But it’s such a beautiful place that I find even that can’t diminish my love for it.
TVA or the Tennessee Valley Authority has a very mixed heritage in our area. During the 1930s, the Tennessee Valley was a very poor area, even by Depression Era standards. TVA projects displaced over 15,000 people, covering over towns, native burial grounds and land that had been in families for years. On the other hand, TVA provided jobs to an area that was surrounded by poverty. Marcus’s grandfather was an electrician at Norris Dam and a few other TVA projects. TVA reduced the devastating floods in this area but they also destroyed pristine areas when they built projects like the Tellico Dam. The creation of the Tellico Dam ruined one on of the best trout fisheries in the area when they dammed the Little Tennessee, and land that TVA acquired through eminent domain at a very low cost is now being sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars per acre to developers.
No matter what my feelings towards TVA are, Norris Lake is here to stay. The Clinch River starts in Southwest Virgina, near Tazwell. The Clinch and Powell River meet up at Norris Lake, formed when Norris Dam was built in 1936. Norris Dam is the first dam built by TVA and at the time was constructed in a modernist style – considered quite advanced and controversial at the time. It really is an impressive sight, especially at dusk.
Because the dam is 285 feet high, it impounds a large quantity of very cold water. This cold water is the perfect temperature for trout. In the 80s, TVA constructed a weir dam that speeds the river back up about two miles from the dam – this adds oxygen to the water and makes it even more habitable for trout.
On a hot summer’s night, not many things are more refreshing then walking alongside the tailwaters. Not only is it beautiful but the rushing, cold water kicks up a cool breeze, even on a hot night. During the summer, there’s usually fog that begins to form as sunset approaches.
Norris State Park, Cove Creek Wildlife Management Area and Chuck Swan State Forest all preserve areas around the lake. We’ve seen groundhogs, hawks, osprey, deer, skunks and foxes around here.
On Friday, Marcus and I went blueberry picking at a farm nearby and stopped by the river so Marcus could fish for a bit. It was one of those days when the fishing alchemy was perfect and in the hour we were there, Marcus quickly caught several brown trout. Two were too small to keep and one was too big so they were quickly let go. Marcus asked me if we should keep the other ones to eat and I told him he could make that decision. It was a cop-out. If he decided to keep them, I wasn’t responsible for their death. But even doing that made me feel bad – I could have asked him to let them go and he would have.
I’m a bit of a hypocrite when it comes to facing the cruelty of my cooking head on. Sure, we buy the majority of our meat from local, humane producers and we eat a lot less meat than the average consumer. But I don’t feel guilty when I eat that meat. I don’t feel like I personally caused that animal to die and it’s because I’m so insulated from the process.
I think there’s a lot of truth to the saying that if slaughterhouses all had glass walls, we’d be vegetarians. Most of us have insulated ourselves from the cruelty of our choices. We buy pork or beef at our grocery store, sanitized and packed in a neat little package. We don’t have to see the horrific conditions those animals were raised under. We don’t even have the courage to call it by it’s animal name – cow meat or pig meat.
I’ve had people throw a fit when Marcus has mentioned that he sometimes hunts and fishes quite a bit. These people stand there in their leather shoes, holding a burger from McDonalds and tell us that hunting is cruel and have no idea of the irony of their statements. We’ve created a world where we don’t have to see the consequences of our actions, at least when it comes to the meal on the kitchen table.
There’s no getting away from the fact that creatures on this planet will die to produce the food that keeps you alive. You can be a vegan and animals will still have died to produce your food. Even humans will be harmed and possibly die to produce the food you eat. All kinds of animals die during the harvesting process. Merely using the land for the growing of food, rather than animal habitat, causes death. If you don’t eat organic produce, farm workers will contract cancer because of the chemicals that are used in the farming of your food. Even if you eat organic foods, farm workers in foreign country will go hungry when the organic peaches they grow to provide for their families are turned down for not being up to standard. Even if you buy local, organic produce, you’re still not blameless. An organic farmer I know lost 600 tomato plants in one night to deer. His losses were so great that he had to get a depredation permit in order to get any kind of harvest at all and to control his losses for next year.
I grow a lot of our produce in my suburban garden. Every year we fight off the birds and possums so we can harvest our tomatoes. They don’t usually take enough to cause severe losses but I know the frustration of going out to the garden and finding nibbles and pecks in almost all of the not-quite-ripe tomatoes. A few weeks ago, we had a difficult choice to make. The biggest groundhog I had ever seen was in our back yard. They may be cute animals but anyone who’s gardened knows that devastation they can cause in a garden in a single night. It disappeared, never to be seen again but what would we have done if it had decided to make its home nearby?
We need to strip off the marketing gloss of our dining choices and come face to face with the cruelty that comes as a result of our choices. That doesn’t mean we need to go out and shoot a deer or kill a chicken ourselves, although I greatly admire people who are willing to do that. It does mean that we need to be aware that our food comes with a cost. We need to treat our food with the reverence that it deserves – we need to use it wisely. We need to appreciate the farmers that grew it and the lives that were lost in the production of it.
This life can be an amazing gift – full of beauty and wonder. But none of us can escape the fact that it can be cruel as well. In the gorgeous surroundings of the Clinch River valley, I was responsible for the death of three living creatures. The best thing I could do is to be grateful for the loss of those lives so that I could live.
Trout with Brown Butter-Caper Sauce
1/4 teaspoon olive oil
2 trout fillets – about 4 oz each
Salt and Pepper
2 tablespoons shallots (We used Egyptian Walking Onions from our garden)
1 heaping tablespoon of drained capers
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter
First off, if you caught your own fish, you need to clean them and fillet them.
Chop your shallots and get your capers and lemon ready. Add oil to a non-stick skillet and put over medium heat. Heat for 2 minutes. Salt and pepper both sides of fillets and add to pan.
When the edges of the fillet start to turn white, flip. This will take 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. After flipping, cook for another 1 1/2 or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
Remove fillets from pan, put on a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.
Add butter to skillet. Watch carefully because in a non-stick skillet it’s hard to see when it begins to brown. It usually takes about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes for us.
When it’s beginning to turn brown, add shallots and sautee for two minutes until they begin to soften.
Then add lemon juice and capers, cook for another minute.
This meal is part of my One Local Summer meal for this week. Admittedly, capers aren’t local but I’m hoping that next year, I’ll have pickled nasturtium buds to use as a substitute. The butter was made from Cruze Farm milk and we used some of the caper juice to sub in for the lemon. Instead of shallots, we used Egyptian Walking Onions from our garden. We served this fish with roasted Dragon Langerie, Masai and Purple Trionfo Violetto beans from our garden. Dessert was a blueberry cornmeal cake made with local blueberries and local cornmeal.
We’re all seeking that special person who is right for us, but if you’ve been through enough relationships, you begin to suspect there’s no right person, just different flavors of wrong. Why is this? Because you yourself are wrong in some way, and you seek out partners who are wrong in some complementary way. But it takes a lot of living to grow fully into your own wrongness. It isn’t until you finally run up against your deepest demons, your unsolvable problems – the ones that make you truly who you are – that you’re ready to find a life-long mate. You’re looking for the wrong person. But not just any wrong person: the right wrong person – someone you lovingly gaze upon and think, “This is the problem I want to have.” – Andrew Boyd, Daily Afflictions.
You know, I had this lovely post all worked out for our anniversary. I was going to post our recipe for apple butter because when my husband and I got married, we made apple butter for our guests. I figured they all probably didn’t need another engraved-with-a-random-wedding-date-cheap champagne flute so we went for something practical. And our guests seemed to be happy with it – I actually saw several guests drinking it like a shot. Either we made a damn good apple butter or those guests were drunk. Probably both.
My husband and I have turned making apple butter into an anniversary tradition and I had this wonderful blog post idea about how marriage was like a jar of apple butter. And it was so cute without being retch-inducing and I’m sure it would have totally gone viral in a major way and at this point in time, I’m sure one of Ellen’s producers would have been calling me, asking me to make apple butter and be witty on her show.
Life has this funny way of getting in the way. Instead of writing that post, we painted our bedroom blue. And worked on code.
Why did we do this? Because it had to be done. My husband and I run an online shopping board and we’re heading into what we refer to as crazytime. We’re getting over 200 non-spam emails a day and the posts on our site and traffic to it are going up. We’re also getting ready to make a MAJOR update in our board software and that’s been causing us to tear our hair out, especially since it has to be done before the week of Black Friday.
Add to this stress the fact that we’re also in the middle of some pretty big home renovations. We have this beautiful, big house and we’ve spent the last two years crammed into three rooms. We made some progress a couple of weeks ago and got our office opened up but I’m jonesing to have our bedroom back. Especially since I’m sick of our clothes being scattered to the four winds throughout our house. And especially since we’re working on a deadline and have to have a certain amount of our house finished by the time we re-finance.
So instead of some swooningly beautiful prose about my husband, I’m going to say this. I love him. And the man drives me crazy. And I drive him crazy. And sometimes that crazy is even in a good way. I would have rather been on a tropical beach, sipping on a frosty tropical drink while we lounged in the sun together. Hell – I would have rather been hiking in the rain. Instead, we painted our bedroom blue. And I threw a hissy fit about not being where I wanted to be and being where I was. And my husband waited for me to finish and then said he was going to finish painting the trim now. And I sighed. And realized that where I was, was where I was. And I was lucky to be there with the man that I was with.
So we ate cupcakes & drank red wine from our anniversary champagne flutes. And painted. But I still made apple butter. And I had the problem I wanted to have.
The key to really good apple butter is really good apples. Stayman Winesaps are my preferred apples for this. If you’re not sure what kind of apples to use, buy lots of different kinds and mix them. Please understand that the measurements below are flexible on purpose. There is no way for me to give you an absolute recipe for this – every batch of apples are different so you’ll need to season this as you go.
If I can get my hands on organic Stayman Winesaps, I simply quarter them and cook them with skins and cores. This takes a lot longer to cook down and you can’t do chunky-style applesauce this way but as long as you put everything through a food mill, this is my favorite way to make apple butter. It’s next to impossible to find organic Stayman Winesaps locally though so the method I have detailed below is the one I regularly turn to.
I don’t like to keep a slow cooker going all night (and it’s really not smart to do this while the apple butter is cooking down) so I start this on the stove, stick it in the fridge overnight and heat it back up again on the stove. And then I pour the applesauce into the slow cooker to cook down. Again – this is not something you can really leave because you need to leave the lid askew in order for it to cook down. You’re also going to need to scrape down the sides of the slow cooker every hour or so.
Anniversary Apple Butter
8 lbs apples
2 cups apple cider
1 – 2 cups packed dark brown sugar (my batch I used 1 1/2 cups)
Juice from 1/2 to 2 lemons (I used one lemon which was about 4 tablespoons of juice)
2-4 teaspoons cinnamon
Core & slice apples. Place in large saucepan with apple cider, one cup brown sugar and two tablespoons lemon juice. Bring to a simmer over low heat and simmer for 2 hours or until apples are tender and falling apart. Season to taste with cinnamon. Correct the seasonings again – if the flavor seems a little flat, add more lemon juice. Now you can eat this as applesauce or you take the next step and make into apple butter.
Making Apple Butter:
Put apple butter through a food mill. You can also puree it in a food processor but I think the food mill gives it a really silky consistency you can’t get anywhere else. If this is cold, I usually heat it back up on the stove and then pour it into a slow cooker on low. Make sure that the lid to your cooker is askew and cook for about 12 hours. Make sure to scrape down the sides as it cooks. Let most of the liquid cook out. It will get very dark. About 6 hours through cooking, taste and add any additional sugar or cinnamon that you think it may need.
Allow it to cool completely. You can refrigerate this for up to three weeks or you can can it. To can, ladle hot apple butter into prepared jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process in a hot water canner for 10 minutes.