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?


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