Thursday, October 25, 2007

Local Meal #3 - Grape expectations



(Munchkin crushing grapes)

For our 3rd local meal, I adapted a recipe that has been a big hit in the past: Pork chops with apples & onions. I'd heard that it worked with pork sausage (and we have a LOT of pork sausage - see 9/14), so I decided to try it that way. It turned out just fine. Here’s the recipe the way I did it:

Sausage with Apples & Onions
(for two plus a toddler who will only eat the sausage)

½ lb bulk sausage (from our local pig)
1 crisp apple (local farmstand)
1 onion (CSA, which ended this week - boo hoo!)
Olive oil (one of my exceptions)
1/4 c apple cider (local)
salt & pepper to taste (I used RealSalt that my dad brought back from Utah, so it counts as local)
Fry spoonfuls of sausage in a heavy skillet until done. Set aside and keep warm. Add sliced apple & onion and a little olive oil to same skillet and saute 4-5 minutes until softened. Add cider and reduce liquid by half. Remove from heat. Serve the apples & onions with the pork sausage.

To the recipe above, I added baked potatoes (CSA), artichokes (local farmers’ market), and for a beverage we had the rest of the (local) apple cider.
So what’s the deal with the grapes? Yesterday, Munchkin and I went grape picking with friends. I wasn’t going to get many grapes since I didn’t really know what to do with them, but before I knew it, I had 11 pounds of Concord grapes in my bucket and Munchkin had way too many in his tummy. When I wasn’t looking, Munchkin turned his grape bucket upside-down (to use as a ladder) and stood underneath the arbor with clusters of grapes hanging down on all sides of his head. All the better to eat like a king!

Last night I found a recipe for grape jam and I halved the recipe since I didn’t really know what I was doing. The resulting quantity of jam was so small that Scott declared it a lot of work for two sandwiches! It was probably a good thing, though. Even with an emergency phone call to a friend (which saved the jam from becoming grape soup), it still didn’t turn out right. It is now grape rubber! It tastes pretty good, but it sure doesn’t spread.

I still had about 10 pounds of grapes sitting on the counter, so late this afternoon I decided to turn them into grape juice. I liked it(!), but there was no way I could cool the juice by dinnertime, so I decided to serve apple cider. I compared the local apple cider I had bought with Treetop’s 100% apple cider. It was sort of like comparing a local tomato with a grocery store pink thing -- who knew there could be such a difference?!!

What I learned: If you want to serve grape juice with dinner, don't start making it at 5:00!

The bottom line: Dinner was very tasty and I'll make it that way again. The grape juice turned out good, too. One of my "rules" for this challenge was to find a local source for a new ingredient each month and so for the month of October, I’m choosing grapes for making my own juice. Not as much work as I would have thought, and rewarding. Oh, and Jennifer, if you’re reading this, thanks for the invite. How did your grape jam turn out?

2 comments:

Kim said...

Yum! I'm sure the kids will love the grape juice. I'd love to try grape picking sometime if I could find a place here in NH!

Danielle said...

I found you via the Dark Days Challenge...

We made grape jelly this summer from our grapes, and it definitely turned out a bit on the thin side. But it's really yummy and made way more than enough for just two sandwiches. My first strawberry preserves came out way thick, too.

Hey, it's a learning curve, you know? But we're getting there.

Touch the Earth Farm