Asian Pear Butter (2014 edition)

This year I decided to give Asian pear butter another try. I didn’t use an exact recipe, and I used my crockpot.

  • Fill crockpot to the top with cored and sliced Asian pears (I used my corer-slicer), add 2 cinnamon sticks for flavor
  • Cook covered on low setting for 24 hours/overnight/until the pears are a soft, watery mushy mess
  • Run pears through food mill (I got around 12 cups of liquid)
  • Put liquid back in crockpot, add a cup (or so) of sugar, and any other spices you feel inspired to use. Reduce on low partially covered until you like the consistency, I think mine was 18-24 hours?
  • Refrigerate or can according to a reliable resources directions (I followed the directions in Ball’s Blue Book).

IMG_1940

This year’s attempts ended up with a rich caramel color and while it still has a slightly grain consistency, reducing it longer really helped with that. Working with the theory that apple butter and pear butter can be used interchangeably, I’ve come up with several ideas from around the internet. With most of these I’m probably going to take the idea and modify it slightly, I already have a favorite pizza dough recipe, and a tried-and-true cinnamon roll-dough recipe.

  • Thumbprint cookies (using pear butter instead of jam), I’ll find something in one of my cookbooks and swap out jam for pear butter.
  • Asian Pulled Chicken Slidersleaving out the spicy jalapenos, were Monday night’s dinner. These scored an “okay to make again” from Gavin, the boys gave a thumbs-up to the rolls (King’s Hawaiian Butter Rolls) and a nasty face at the idea of chicken in a form other than breaded tenders. Everyone enjoyed the side of lightly simmered green beans.

IMG_2005

IMG_2002

Handrails

Because it was Labor Day something around the house had to be fixed, last year it was the downstairs bathroom sink, this year it was the handrails on the stairs — as Oliver pointed out one day, “mommy, dem bo-ken!”

IMG_1842

So we got Gavin, and put him to work, it is labor day weekend after all.

IMG_1854

We took down the old railing — and by “we” I mean Gavin, the boys over saw. Then we patched up the walls, cleaned the walls, primed and painted.

IMG_1859

After a false start, and ambitious trips to Lowes and Mead Clark, we’ve decided to replace the handrails as stripping the paint would damage them further. After some sanding, priming and painting (spread out over a week … or two? to let all the paint dry properly), they were finally ready to be installed.

The boys “helped” with the instillation.

IMG_1942

The new brackets were the sturdiest looking ones they had, they’re screwed solidly into the studs and we hope to not need to deal with them again for a number of years. IMG_1945

 

Asian Pears 2014 – update

Back in August I posted about the 2014 Asian Pear haul, and promised to update once I’d done something with them. I’ve tossed easily 20-30 lbs of them so far this week — they’ve splatted onto the ground, rotten and moldy, and with the help of Sasha’s extension picker we’ve hauled in several tubs of pears and there are more on the tree. I took about 10 lbs to school this morning much to Ms. Donna’s delight.

IMG_1922

First up, I got a slicer-corer to make anything I attempted easier. I picked one up at the local grocery store and it is the best just-under-$5 I’ve spent in a long time.

IMG_1925     IMG_1924

Then, (with the help of Sasha who’d already made a batch or two), I made Pickled Asian Pears with Lemon. We made 14 pints, after a mix up about pints vs. quarts. I think we quadrupled the recipe? So now I’m looking for ways to use pickled Asian pears — I’m sure there will be posts on that to follow.

IMG_1930    IMG_1926

After that, I made Ricotta Stuffed Asian Pears with Cinnamon, they “looked interesting” and the children flat-out refused to eat them. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but my expectations were not met. The ricotta/honey tastes good, but it doesn’t work for me with the pear.

IMG_1932

Finally, I tried Dried 5-Spice Asian Pears. I dehydrated them in the oven. I didn’t bother with the 5-spice (didn’t have any on hand), and other than miserably heating up the house all day long, and forgetting to core them first, they turned out pretty well.

I’m also trying crock-pot pear butter again — I tried the batch Sasha made and it was less revolting than my attempts, so I decided to try it again. This time I’m finding recipes that use pear butter so it does not languish in my pantry. Toss a bunch of pears in the crock-pot, add some cinnamon sticks, cook on low for 20+ hours, food mill, put back in the crock pot, add some sugar, cook some more, hope like mad the apple butter recipes that I pinned work well with pear butter as well — fruit butter is fruit butter, right?


I know, I know:

What about the Asian Pear Sorbet and Lemon Sorbet with Asian Pears? Those aren’t going to be made any time soon, freezer space simply won’t allow for the ice-cream bowl right now, and I’ve had really hit-and-miss luck with internet sorbets.– the last one turned into a frozen block of fruit juice.

I also stand by my previous assessment of Greens with warm breaded goat cheese and fig balsamic — candying, etc. gets to be too much work for a salad — eventually the asian pears might make into a salad, we’ll see.

 

fortress of sunflowers: and now there are 3

I meant to take a few more photos of these as they grew — they have surpassed the children in height — but that didn’t happen. The six pack of starts has now dwindled to three — one never got started, and two got knocked over during vigorous play. The bush has been removed it bloomed and then looked “yicky” (Patrick’s choice of words).

IMG_1904

Hopefully, the remaining three will last long enough to reach the promised 12 feet tall.

BLT Pizza

The other night at the Barlow Thursday Street Fair I had a BLT from one of the food stands. I don’t normally order BLTs, but the sandwich was so large it made sense to share it. The sandwich in question was amazing, heirloom tomatoes, happy pig bacon, arugula, tangy mayonnaise, locally sourced fresh whole wheat bread — insert all the appropriate West County Foodie buzz words here.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this, except to say I translated that into a pizza (after bouncing the idea off Gavin a few times — his mouth watered at the idea of BLT pizza and was rather disappointed that dinner that night was pasta tossed with sauteed tomatoes and garlic). Our CSA box has regularly been giving us a pound (or two) of heirloom tomatoes and I had a bit of bacon in the fridge. A bit of searching turned up BLT Pizza from Full Fork Ahead and took the idea and ran with it. I made a few changes, but the over all idea is the same: really yummy pizza.

IMG_1893

I used my favorite crust (the same one I used for Lonely Brisket Pizza). I did not pre-bake it, and instead went straight to spreading half of the  mayonnaise, garlic  oil, chives, and garlic mixture on top. I then topped that with the roasted tomatoes, and a few hand-fulls of arugula.

IMG_1895

After it had baked for 15 minutes or so, I took it out and topped it with another hand-full or two of arugula that had been mixed with the remaining mayo-mixture.

IMG_1899

Gavin and I loved the results. The boys, less so, but they can be very hit-and-miss. I have not tried re-heating it, as I’m not sure how well the mayo-coated-arugula would do, but it is most excellent the next day cold for lunch.

Continue reading

Savory Nectarine Tart

IMG_1868

The original recipe (from somewhere on the internet, apologies to the original source) called for these to be made as individual “wheels” which involved cutting out the puff pastry into little rounds, etc. which is just too much work — I might do that for a party, but this was just for lunch. I also skipped the thyme, and added mustard.

  • Puff pastry
  • Mustard
  • Nectarines
  • Ham
  • Goat cheese
  1. Heat the oven to 425F.
  2. Lay a sheet of puff pastry on a floured surface.
  3. Spread a thin layer of mustard over the entire pastry.
  4. Add a layer of ham, sprinkle some goat cheese, and line up some nectarine slices.
  5. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, until the edges turn golden.

IMG_1871