Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Summer Returns to the Kitchen

There hasn't been much to blog about around these parts for a good long time. After a while, eating local just becomes part of the landscape of things. (Although once in a while, something reminds you that the way you eat isn't the norm. Like picking up eggs in a convenience store - where items are typically priced higher than a grocery store - and being floored by how cheap they are.)

And then the holidays come around.

For me, Christmas is always a big deal. I love giving things, and even in years when I've planned well ahead (note: not this year!), I can't help but add more and more as the day grows nearer.

This can get hairy in the years when I didn't plan.

But that doesn't stop me.

I'm always a little bit funny about giving away cookies. (Fawn: Sorry for passing my issues on to you! LOL.) But as it happens, I'm spending another Christmas broke. What to do? Bake, of course. I still haven't got a local source for flour and other baking items (indeed, many you probably can't get locally no matter how hard you try - like sugar, or chocolate), so I won't share much about that here.

But for those people who are really special, I can't stop myself at baking. And that's how I came to get out the candy thermometer for some yogurt again. To go with it, I'm breaking out some of the summer's blueberries, which I froze back in August. I'm making two quarts of yogurt and I'm guesstimating I'll need about a cup of blueberry stuff per quart, so I put together the following:

Blueberries for Yogurt

2 cups of blueberries
3/8 cup sugar
1½ tablespoons cornstarch
a pinch of salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Place together in a medium saucepan. Cook until thickened.

The yogurt and the blueberries will be big hits with fans of whole-milk yogurt, and they're nice local gifts, too. The best part is that, as you're cooking up the fruit stuff, all the smells of the summer come wafting up at you and you take a little trip down memory lane. I'm far removed from the blueberry picking I did this past summer now, but it's getting me thinking about spring. Maybe it's time to really give that seed catalog a look...

Another great local gift is applesauce. It's simple, it's super-easy, and few people ever make it anymore, so it's still special. And it's inexpensive! If you're lucky enough to live where there's a winter farmer's market, you can easily get your hands on some good local apples. Where we are we're very spoiled - smack in between the Greenmarket in downtown Schenectady, and the Saratoga Farmer's Market.

This is what I'm doing for my father, the non-homemade-yogurt-eater. All that's required to make applesauce is cored, peeled apples and a little bit of water. Let them cook in a saucepan till they get squooshy, and then add whatever sweeteners or spices you like. This is big with kids, too, who are every bit as wild about it as the jarred stuff. (Meanwhile they won't touch the homemade yogurt, in my experience. Maybe when they're grown!)

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