Monday, November 17, 2014

Apple, Dumpling?

Dear Harvesters,

Tomatoes are slowing down, and apples are ready for all the things Old Bess the Oven loves to bake on fall evenings.  The first apple treat of the season:  Apple Dumplings with Hard Sauce.  A funny thing about hard sauce is that it is neither hard nor saucy- no booze at all, in fact.  What it is, is stiff and sweet- you let it melt onto warm things, like apple dumplings.

This recipe is a gift to us from Ruth Reichl- from one of her recipe-laced memoirs:  Tender at the Bone.  She gives wonderful recipes in several of her books- but don't fret, you needn't don an apron to read her charming books.  I loved her candid writing, and I love her recipes, and I loved her editing of Gourmet magazine.  You will love her, too.

So gather a few folks to help you peel and roll; or get to your library and read Ruth Reichl's books, if you don't feel like eating dumplings.  If you want to know why our oven has such a literary name, read Mr. Putter and Tabby Stir the Soup.  While you are at it, read everything Cynthia Rylant has in your library.  Then you can head out to the bookshops for more!

Alice's Apple Dumplings with Hard Sauce
(adapted from Tender at the Bone, by Ruth Reichl)

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups shortening
1/4 cup ice water
5 apples, peeled and cored
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter
Mix flour and salt; cut in the shortening in the pastry way.  Add ice water until it gathers into a ball with a fork.  Roll the dough and cut it into five squares.  Put an apple in the center of each square.  Mix the cinnamon and the sugar.  Fill the cored center of each apple with the sugar mixture, and put a dab of butter on top.  Bring the pastry up around the apples, pleating and joining the dough with water to seal.  Chill for 30 minutes, then bake at 350 for 40 minutes.  I find it takes more like 60 minutes to get the apples tender, but this all depends on the kind of apple you have.  Serve them warm with the following hard sauce.

Hard Sauce
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
dash of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
Cream butter until soft, gradually add sugar, then salt and vanilla.  Chill it until firm.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Holy Hot Tamales!

Hola Amigos,

Today's project is for the future- it is also of the future, in that we will come together virtually, on December 7th., to make together, for the first time, Sweet Corn Tamales.  I have never made them, and you might not have either, so you can take the ensuing weeks to gather your courage and materials.

Your shopping list:

frozen corn (3 and 3/4 cups worth- I got two packages- will it be enough?)
baking powder
cheddar cheese
green canned chiles

optional, for serving:

Mexican Crema or sour cream
red hot sauce

Here is a video that tells and shows all:

That was fast, eh?  By the way, for the close listeners, 3/4 of a cup of sweet corn is not correct- she has more than that in her bowl- let's follow the written recipe and hope for the best!  Ok, here is what you will need and how to make them in written form:

Casa Vega's Sweet Corn Tamales

15 corn husks
3 3/4 cups sweet corn- frozen
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
4 teaspoons cornmeal
3/4 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon baking powder

10 strips of cheddar cheese
10 small strips of Anaheim chiles, cooked, skinned and seeded, or Ortega Chiles from a can.

The corn husks must be soaked, submerged in hot water for a couple of hours, until they are soft and pliable.  Drain them before wrapping your masa in them.

Make the Masa by grinding the defrosted frozen corn in a food processor- then add the sugar, flour, cornmeal, melted butter and baking powder.  Process well.

Fill the tamales as demonstrated in the video- with the cheese and chiles.  Fold them up, and steam them up.  Serve them with Mexican Crema or sour cream, and a red hot sauce, like Tapatio.

A little musical inspiration?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Wall of Sound.

Dear Listeners,

I thought of you, the other day, while I was listening to the radio.  I bet some of you heard it, too.  The program was all about sound and listening, so I knew you'd want to hear all about it.  Play the first excellent Ted clip, and if you like what you hear, play the rest of these informative lectures by the same fellow, Julian Treasure.


Take care, my dears, to listen only to the best of things.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Remember that Song?


If you do remember that guy, John Somebody, I hope it sends you to the very stillest, latest nighttime, with your radio on low, silently listening to wild and innovative sounds coming from the dark night, only to you, in your solitude. 

If you haven't had the pleasure of hearing this song, well, I know you will enjoy it, even in the daylight, even here.  You will need to click on this link, then begin the song:  Part 1.

While you are there, you might want to look around Scott Johnson's website and sample some of his other compositions.

Until later.