29 August 2015

The Kitchen Journals: Late Summer Food Obsessions

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The Kitchen Journal @ www.BethFishReads.comThis has been an odd kind of week in my kitchen. First, the ten-day county fair is in full swing and we went over two nights to basically eat our way through it. We get all the forbidden foods: fries, sausage sandwiches, cinnamon buns, deep-fried chicken, peach dumplings with ice cream, pork sandwiches, lemonade, and all the rest of the wonderful-tasting, bad-for-you treats. Hey, it's only once a year, right?

As a consequence, the nights we ate at home were rather spartan in a silly effort to combat the fair food. I'm not quite sure why we all think we have to do that. Anyway, we had mostly vegetable dishes: stir-fries, soups, chilies, and that kind of thing. All this was made easy because I had a lot of great veggies from the farmers market to play with.

In fact, this is one of my favorite food seasons and here are just some of my current obsessions.

Prune plums: I just can't seem to get enough of these sweet-tart little fruits. We've bought a half bushel and have been eating them almost all day long. So, so delicious. I need to cook up the rest this weekend and am thinking of a plum claflouti or maybe a plum cake. On the other hand, this plum tart from Ina Garten looks pretty heavenly.

For more sweet and savory recipes using prune plums, check this 2008 NPR article: It's the Time of Year to Go Plum Crazy. That pork looks delicious. . . . Okay, who am I kidding? I know I'm going to be baking up dessert.

Tomatoes: I love, love, love the Juliette tomatoes that are popular at the farmers market right now. They are like a mini Roma -- much meater and more tomato-y than grape tomatoes or regular cherry tomatoes. I've been throwing these into everything from salads and sandwiches to yogurt. And, of course, we can rarely resist picking up one or two whenever we happen to walk through the kitchen.

The orange tomatoes are a low-acid variety and also fairly meaty. I buy an heirloom variety, but I believe there are more modern orange cultivars too. I've used these beauties in salads -- especially a tomato and cucumber dish with a mustard vinaigrette. The rest of them are going into a stuffed cabbage casserole I plan to make Friday night (right after I finish this post).

Peppers: It is hot chili pepper season here in central Pennsylvania, and we adore them. This week I got jalapenos and poblanos. They went into our vegetarian chili, we've roasted them with other veggies to eat over rice, and my husband slices them up to add to his omelets in the morning. The poblanos are a little tricky: the heat doesn't hit you right away. They like to sneak up on you!

If you don't like a ton of spicy, then be sure remove the seeds and ribs, where most of the heat resides. And please, please, please wear kitchen gloves when handling these babies to avoid feeling like your fingers are on fire. Also: never rub your eyes or touch "delicate" body parts after handling hot peppers! Our irresistible way of eating hot peppers is to make these grilled poppers.

Apples: Apples? Yes, apples. I love summer apples. And if you think you aren't an apple fan, then I'm guessing you don't buy your apples straight from an apple grower. In fact, I think of apples in the same way as I do tomatoes: those red things you buy at the grocery store don't taste anything at all like the real fruit. Farm fresh apples are definitely one of my obsessions, and we buy different varieties each week from August through November, when our outdoor market closes.

For me, the tarter the better, and this week, Summer Rambos are my apple of choice. These are crisp and tart and heavenly. My husband wants a little bit sweeter, so we also got Paula Reds, which are very similar to McIntosh apples, but crisper. The lighter green apples are a new one for us: Ginger-Golds, which are crisper and tarter than Golden Delicious, but juicy and the sweetest of the three we got. We'll eat the apples as is, saving the baking for fall.

What are your current food obsessions?


rhapsodyinbooks 8/29/15, 6:24 AM  

So envious of real apples instead of rubber apples! We don't have a source near us....

Tina 8/29/15, 6:55 AM  

I hear ya, in an effort to combat a bit of eating out this week we are in a healthier mode for upcoming week. But a county fair - you have to give yourself up to a peach dumpling & sausage sandwich! I haven't had prune plums in so very long. When I was growing up in PA we had a prune plum tree in the backyard. I would gorge myself on those, so delicious.

bermudaonion 8/29/15, 7:02 AM  

I love plums - they're one of my favorite fruits! Tomato season is just about over down here, I'm sad to say.

Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) 8/29/15, 7:34 AM  

I agree about the apples and tomatoes tasting totally differently from the farmer's market than the grocery store! And - my husband learned that hot pepper lesson the hard way!

Katherine P 8/29/15, 8:05 AM  

Somehow I've never really had fair food but it sounds amazing! I agree that grocery store tomatoes are just not the same and I do love the apples from the orchard! I need to go by the nearby orchard we have and see what they've got now. This is just a delicious post!

Jackie McGuinness 8/29/15, 9:14 AM  

We have been eating local tomatoes from the market for a couple of weeks now. It is so nice to get a "real" tomato!!
In fact, having fried tomatoes as I write this.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity 8/29/15, 10:11 AM  

Mmmm I can't wait for apples and pears this fall! We always miss the summer berries but try to do our best with the fall fruit. I haven't been to our market all year and really should make an effort before it starts getting too cold! Sometimes on the weekends it's just too hard to get up and going. ;)

Vicki 8/29/15, 1:12 PM  

I love fruits. I love plums but my favorite fruit is Nectarines. Love them. I've just started eating pears, and am loving them too. My favorite apple is Golden Delicious, but my kids like Granny Smith.

You are right about not touching your eye after working with peppers. I did that once and man did it hurt.

Nan 8/29/15, 1:54 PM  

It is a wonderful time of year for fresh foods. I do love the heirloom tomatoes, and all the local vegetables. It's a funny thing, I've never really eaten plums, pears, apricots, or peaches. I wonder why?f

Roberta Gibson 8/29/15, 3:28 PM  

Wow, I haven't even heard of most of those types of apples. I will definitely look for them next time I visit back East.

Laurie C 8/30/15, 10:55 AM  

I saw apples at the farm stand last week and was a little taken aback, although they did look awfully crisp and good. Now I regret not buying them. But I'll get some next weekend!

Melynda@Scratch Made Food! 8/30/15, 5:14 PM  

I would love to have some prune plums, one of my favorites!

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