Homemade pizza is a passion in this house. We make it almost weekly, often with tomatoes, peppers and herbs from the garden. There is still so much to learn, so many techniques to master…but a slow rise, whole milk mozzarella and high gluten flour help create a pie the family prefers to almost anything we could get from a pizza joint or restaurant!
My summer home in Pennsylvania was built in 1851. That’s pretty old. There was no electricity, no indoor plumbing and the Civil War was still a decade off. I’m sure the crabapple tree in the back yard isn’t quite as old as the home itself, but it’s definitely been around a while. Based on the high sugar content of the ripe fruit, it’s probably a hybrid (cross of apple and crabapple) but there’s no telling if it’s a unique, natural cross or a long-forgotten cultivar from another era.
Either way, the fruit from this tree makes some of the best jelly, apple sauce and now, hopefully…cider. The basic process is pretty simple: juice the apples, add yeast, and let sit for a week while the yeast turns most of the sugar into alcohol. Move it over to glass jugs to sit for a few months to let all the yeast settle out, then bottle the finished cider.
That’s more or less how it went. It was pretty easy other than the 2 days required to pick, clean and wash all those crabapples! Two bushels (~20 gallons) of fruit was turned into 6 gallons of cider. Based on an early taste test, I can say that the finished product ought to be pretty darn good!
Can’t wait to sample the first bottle this fall!
Unlike the butter pecan we made last week, mint chip isn’t a flavor that benefits from a super-rich egg custard base. As a base for a lighter ice cream like this, I love to use Junket ice cream mix. There’s no cheating going on here. Junket mix is basically just pre-measured sugar, vanilla and a few thickeners found in commercial ice cream – you still need to start with real cream and milk and add your own flavorings.
We make ice cream in our Whynter ICM-200LS freezer. It’s a compressor model that makes 2 quarts of ice cream in as little as 25 minutes, with no pre-freezing or ice required. With a few boxes of Junket mix stashed in the cupboard, we can have fresh homemade ice cream ready in as little as 30 minutes, whenever the craving strikes!
Here is our favorite recipe, made a little lighter by using half and half and milk in place of heavy cream.
REDUCED FAT MINT CHIP ICE CREAM RECIPE
(Double batch – 2 quarts)
2 cups half and half
2 cups 2% milk
2 boxes Junket Very Vanilla Ice Cream Mix
2 tbs peppermint extract
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
20 drops green food color
Mix all ingredients in bowl, adjusting mint flavor and food color as desired. Pour into your favorite ice cream maker and churn until semi-frozen. Stir in chopped semi-sweet chocolate. Transfer to freezer container and chill until firm, about 3 hours. (Can also be served as soon as it comes out of the ice cream maker, but mint chip really benefits from the extra time in the freezer.)
This 9 lb pork butt goes into the smoker late Friday night so it can be served for Saturday’s dinner. When in California, my favorite wood to smoke with is Catalina cherry. Back east, I use black cherry. Cherry wood is nice because it can be used green, cut from the tree just before firing up the smoker.
A big hunk of meat like this will easily feed 20 people, and leftovers will keep for up to a week. Recipe below.
“EASY” SMOKED BBQ PORK SANDWICHES
– One 5-10 pound pork butt (a.k.a shoulder, picnic roast, Boston butt)
– One jar of your favorite store-bought BBQ sauce, thinned 3:1 with apple cider vinegar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup paprika or chili powder
1/4 cup garlic powder
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1) Preheat smoker to 225°F, fill water reservoir and load wood chips or chunks
2) Mix all rub ingredients in bowl then liberally sprinkle pork with rub
3) Load pork into smoker and cook at 1.5 hours per pound, keeping an eye on water level
4) About 2 hours before meat should be done, start checking temperature at 30 minute intervals
5) When meat reaches 202°F, remove from smoker
6) When ready to serve, remove and shred portions of meat as needed
Immediately serve on rolls or buttered white bread, and top with a liberal squeeze of BBQ sauce. Enjoy!!