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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Savory Nectarine Tart

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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.

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Gnomes

We have gnomes in our house, again.

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Between hunting Gnomes and having a gnome infestation in our Christmas tree, it was only a matter of time before the boys got gnome “costumes” — in this case, reversible gnome hats and vests. The hats are very gnome-inspired (although they could also be for a wizard), the vests could go pretty much any direction their imagination takes them — pin a star to it, they can be a sheriff; add boots, they can be cowboys; add a fire helmet, they’re firemen; at Christmas, they can be elves; I’m a fan of open-ended multi-purpose costume options.

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The other reason for the costumes is O’s friend E is having a “fairy” themed birthday party (she’s very into fairies at the moment) and everyone has been invited to come in costume. After some an initial encouragement for “fairy costumes!” (do yourself a favor and don’t google search for boy/male fairies or costumes), the suggestion was made that boys could come as gnomes. We also have Sprites Night coming up (the school’s Fall Festival/alternative to Halloween), and adorable, non-licensed costumes are preferred (last year they were dragon/knights).

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The the gnome hat is almost exactly like the one from tikkido.com, except I made it reversible — I made two, put wrong-sides together and stitched a few inches up the back seam. I thought about a blanket stitch to finish the bottom, but the hats are almost the same size and the under hat peeks out a bit and I like the color contrast. I am also worried sewing up the bottom would limit the stretch of the felt over their heads.

The vest is from Disney Family, originally for Woody’s Faux Cowhide Vest. I liked the rounded feel and shape of the vest, it is for gnomes (and other creative play), so a slightly whimsical shape (instead of boxy and confining) felt like a better fit. The vest, like the hat, is double sided. I used spray adhesive to put the pieces together, and then tucked the front into the back and sewed up the seams (I feel like I should’ve taken photos of this process, but I didn’t). I finished the vests off with a blanket stitch in white embroidery thread — it made up for lazy and slightly uneven cutting and I like the contrasting color.

I used two yards of 72″ felt, and I still have some leftovers, not a huge amount, but enough to make red and blue felt ornaments.

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I think they make pretty cute gnomes.

13 lbs of vintage 80s Legos

The boys love playing with Duplos, but they love playing with Legos even more. They want to go beyond the farm and boat to launch satellites and race fire engines. I love my boys, but I’m not quite ready to share my Legos with them — what can I say, it took me seven years before I was ready to irrevocably combine my collection with Gavin’s.

The boys are still exploring how blocks go together and getting familiar with the shapes, functions and mechanics of the blocks. While we probably could throw together a starter set from our vast collection, a burst of inspiration and a lucky Craig’s List search turned up thirteen pounds of vintage 1980s-90s Legos for a very reasonable price.
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They a very mixed box, some plates, some pirates, a police station, some seriously vintage Fabuland, a few knights, some BASIC sets, a smattering of instructions and the occasional PlayMobil figure.
IMG_1806We mostly assembled the Fabuland town hall, police station, and one of the random castle mini-sets on the play-tray that Gavin built for the boys to use on the table (2×2 plywood with 1.5x.25 trim with felt feet). I improvised a bit from the original instructions with the pieces I had on hand — some are missing, some were found after much deeper digging.
IMG_1810After bath time the play-tray was not enough to contain the boy’s vision. They expanded, under the condition that everything get collapsed back onto the play-tray before bedtime.

I think this is going to be the beginning of a long and beautiful friendship, I just hope everyone remembers to pick up all the pieces off the floor every night.