DIY Kitchen: dried spiced pears
Chile-salt dried pears.
Frost has come, putting an urgency in my days. Whoa, that sounds so dramatic, like maybe we’re homeless and shivering under the bridge instead of simply co-habitating with boxes of tomatoes, apples and a commune of fruit flies.
It’s all a little funny right now – now that only 75 pears are exhaling ripeness into our house like small botanical alarm clocks; or how Dan and I are conducting high level negotiations about tomatillos; or how I have constant knife nicks in my fingertips (“Are you bleeding again, Mama?” The kids ask, barely looking up from their card game. And then I wave my Edward Bandaidhands around at them); or how I made off with a box of my friend’s semi-ripe reject tomatoes that had sat through 2 nights of frost, laughing like a hungry raccoon all the way to…well, my own hot and cluttered kitchen.
I know. The thing is I can’t not do this work of stuffing apples and tomatoes in jars. And though I can wave the banners of frugality, sustainability and local foods, my whole food preservation obsession springs less from any philosophy than from the irrepressible fingers of my very DNA reaching for a knife when presented with a basket of pears. (A friend recently asked if I learned to garden from growing up in Berkeley. Uh, no. I was too busy macking on some fat-free, synthesized food from a wrapper while searching out the next house party).
The 2011 food preservation chart: a helpful way to track what you made. It really is in my DNA. (Perhaps it’s in all of our DNA – y’know, that whole food preservation equals survival thing.) My grandfather, my Dad’s dad, who was an U.S. immigrant from the greek island, Rhodes, would spend much of his visits to my childhood home at our kitchen table, shelling California-grown walnuts to schlep back to Brooklyn.
Some tips on fruit acquisition:
1) Scout the neighborhood. Drive and bike around with an eye for fruit trees. Keep track of notable trees.
2) Tell friends you’re looking for fruit.
3) Knock on doors (or recruit someone who’s comfortable to knock on doors), leave notes with your phone number. Tell the tree owners that you’ll do all the picking and give them a percentage of the fruit. The worst that could happen is someone says “no.”
But look what happens when they say YES! Dan and the kids picked these pears after simply knocking on a stranger’s door and getting the green light. The kids kept calling me and saying sadly, “we only picked a few shriveled pears.” “That’s okay honey, thanks for trying.” “Just TWO SHRIVELED PEARS,” Rose repeated three times, until I realized something fishy was going on.
Our friend Jojo, (who recently told me he had access to three pear trees, and we both gawked like his stock portfolio was surging), came up with this recipe for dried spiced pears. These are the triumvirate of flavors: sweet, salty and spicy.
Dried Spiced Pears
Pears (as many as you have)
Equal parts red chile powder (like cayenne) and sea salt. (We also did a fabulous cinnamon/salt mix)
Slice pears. Sprinkle spice mix liberally on sliced pears. (some will fall off).
*On drying fruit: we dry our fruit in the sun under screens, because our average humidity is around 20%. If you live in a moister climate and don’t have an electric food dryer, try oven drying.
Red chile powder and salt.
This is fun, except if you have multiple finger cuts.
Slightly revolutionary: we did not cut the cores out, but as per Jojo’s instructions, sliced through the core, took out the seeds and dried the slices in tact.
What do you see? I see deer hoof tracks.
Just looking at these makes my mouth pucker a little, in a good way.
Speaking of sweet and spicy, have you tried Ska’s new Mole Stout (made with peppers, spices and cocoa)? It’s my new favorite thing at 5pm when the sun is already low and the children are tired-crazy. I go outside and drink my beer and pretend to garden but really just stand around taking in the shift in season.
We also made a batch of cinnamon-salt pears.
May your life be sweet, salty and spicy!
Linking up with Simple Lives Thursday.
Also, gratuitous picture of Rose.
ps: Do you live in the Denver area? Remember how I’ve been excited about the Positive Discipline workshop occurring in Durango? This weekend there will be one (same instructors) in Denver. Dan and I were so inspired by this workshop; I received new language in which to view my children, effective and compassionate tools, and support to continue forward on the path to raise joyful and responsible children without threats, bribes or punishment. Go here for more info (click on orange “e” to sign up). Also, feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions.
Linking with The Homestead Barn Hop