It all started with a trip to the Valley. Two beautiful 20-pound bags of apples – Cortlands, and the apples I have longed for over my long absence from Nova Scotia: Gravensteins. Of course, combine this with a busy life, a business trip, and a couple of days off sick, and I have had to start coming up with apple ideas.
There are the usual, of course, like pies, or just eating these delicious orbs as is. (And on that note, I challenge anyone to claim they really find Red Delicious apples to be anything close to delicious!) We’re poring over recipes for mincemeat, chutney, and more. Yesterday we canned a supply of applesauce to last over the winter. But this morning, a simple solution: whole wheat cinnamon apple pancakes. Warm and tasty after a night of howling wind and rain, they will sustain us through what promises to be a dreary day. For that we’re grateful.
We made a lovely road trip with the parents on Saturday, including a visit to Grammy, now aged 100. Side stopovers included Oulton’s meats, where we watched the talented team of butchers make short work of preparing a variety of delicious meats. In our case, we bought half a lamb, which included these two tasty shanks. We expect to be featuring all sorts of fall lamb recipes over the next weeks.
We wanted to take advantage of local produce as well, including the delicious apples we picked up on our last trip to the Valley, and some potatoes we grew in our own plot. Here’s how we did it, for 2:
2 (12-ounce) lamb shanks, trimmed
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/8 cup alcoholic sparkling cider
2 large diced apples
A good handful of fresh basil, thyme and oregano, minced
1/8 cup chopped fresh parsley for topping
1. Heat oven to 300F. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle lamb with freshly ground black pepper. Add lamb to pan, and cook 4 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove from pan. Add garlic to pan; sauté 15 seconds. Add cider; cook 2 minutes, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Stir in apples and herbs; cook 2 minutes. Return lamb to pan. Cover with apples, cover pan and bake 1 hour. Turn lamb over; cook 1 hour more or until meat is done and very tender. Remove lid and cook until thickened if necessary. Serve sprinkled w parsley, and mashed potatoes on the side.
Hand-rolled pasta may sound like a Herculean task for a weeknight, but last Thursday we made these ravioli to take advantage of some leftover spicy roast squash. (Other leftover mashed vegetables will work equally well). Check the recipe pages for the hand-rolled pasta. We rolled it out and used a small biscuit cutter to cut rounds – as many as we could get from the batch of dough. On each round, we placed about 10ml/2tsp of filling, then wet the circle, topped with another round of dough, and crimped the edges carefully (so as not to pierce) with a fork.
We cooked the pasta for about 10 minutes, and in the meantime made sauce:
Heat 30ml/2T butter w 15ml/1T flour. Stir in 125ml/1/2 c 1% milk and continue stirring until thick. Grate in 30-60ml 1-2 oz smoked Gouda and add a dash of nutmeg. Serve over ravioli and enjoy!
Start to finish, including making the pasta from scratch, about 45 minutes.
What’s a heritage recipe? All in a name, perhaps. When my daughter and I were making these pies, we were discussing the recipes…
“Do you remember your pumpkin pie recipe by heart, Mom?”
“No need…it’s on the back of the label of the E.D. Smith pumpkin”. Other foods that have solidly established themselves in the family repertoire are pie crust (Crisco), and the special squares we make at Christmas (Eagle Brand Condensed milk). For a family that cooks and eats healthy and local, we seem to be more than happy to rely on distinctly non-local influences for the holidays. Many of these were established as packaged foods were just taking off…and some when any food was rationed and out fore-mothers learned to work with what they could get.
The last anecdote we shared was probably the best. Daughter and boyfriend were making their first Christmas cookies – shortbread. Each insisted their Mom had the best recipe, and set out to investigate. After their phone calls each sheepishly shared the source of the treasured family recipe – the back of the Canada Cornstarch package. Both moms were using the same “best recipe”.
What does this teach us? That the foods we love have been taken over by huge food conglomerates? That we can’t make recipes up by ourselves any more? None of the above. What it tells us is that love and holidays, for many of us, are bound up in the foods we eat. And sharing them with family is beyond compare. So thanks for the wonderful Thanksgiving dinner yesterday. Cranberry sauce, apple pie, Roxanne’s stuffing and potatoes, Dan’s chocolate cake, Beth and Eric’s salad, Portuguese chicken from Dad and Kath, and more…so good we’ll do another version with Mike and Aline later today. Happy Thanksgiving, all!