Friday, September 30, 2011

Applesauce Paperweights!

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

One of the many reasons for cooking is to share the food with friends and family. Sharing food also means sharing with those who don't have food which is what I had in mine this month when our apple orchard produced an abundance of apples.

Because I love to can, I came up with an idea to pick and can our apples into applesauce for the Harbor Springs Food Pantry. This wasn't an easy accomplishment as the Food Pantry required a licensed kitchen, a federally certified canning expert, and appropriate labeling on the jars. The licensed kitchen required liability insurance and a State Health Department certified food safety expert on hand.

All of the hurdles were jumped and 11 of my friends joined me on Monday in the licensed kitchen that is in the same building as the Food Pantry. More than 100 families were at the Food Pantry while we cooked the applesauce--the building smelled heavenly. After six hours of work, we canned 67 quarts of applesauce and put them on the shelves of the Food Pantry.

Then came one more hurdle: while we were canning, Feeding America notified our Food Bank that the State Department of Agriculture wouldn't allow us to donate the applesauce. The Food Safety official actually gave us the wrong reason: she said that Michigan's Cottage Law required a "cannery waiver" for the kitchen we cooked in. Michigan's Cottage Law is for home based businesses, those not in a licensed kitchen, and doesn't allow any canning except for jams and jellies.

When I called the State Agriculture Department, a different story unfolded.  To donate or sell canned goods like our applesauce, we needed to be in a kitchen licensed for commercial processing of food.  Our kitchen did not have this $175 permit.  Our Food Pantry--so excited at what we had done and now devastated at this obstacle--told us they could not give our lovingly prepared applesauce to their clients.

So we changed directions: instead of creating applesauce, we created applesauce paperweights! Yes, paperweights! The Agriculture Department does not control how paperweights are made.   The 67 quart jars are labeled "Applesauce TLC Paperweights. This item is intended ONLY for use as a paperweight and is NOT intended for human consumption."

These beautiful paperweights will look wonderful in any home or kitchen. You, too can have one for a donation to the Harbor Springs Food Pantry. The applesauce paperweights are available at two Harbor Springs businesses and are going like hot cakes! Our community is furious that a project that had already met so many rules was not allowed to give this food to the people in our area who need it.  While we cannot donate the applesauce, the donated funds from the paperweights will still help the Food Pantry families.

It used to be that we could easily help people.  Food should not be wasted when people need it.  That was the intent of this project. It didn't work out that this food could be shared but we're helping in a different way with our gorgeous applesauce paperweights. We will do this again--in a kitchen with the right paperwork!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Peach Pie--Freezing

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

Our peach tree is full of ripe peaches so I am making the basics of a peach pie to freeze. This can be done with almost any fruit: it's easy. Just make the pie filling like normal so in this case, I mixed:

6 c peaches
1 1/4 c flour
1 1/4 c sugar

And to the fruit, I added 2 T of Fruit Fresh to hold the peaches in the freezer.  Then I poured the mix into a pie plate--no crust--and froze it.  When the fruit was frozen, I slid it out of the pie plate into a 1 gallon freezer bag to store.

In the winter, when we want a peach pie, I'll partially thaw the peaches and place in a crust to bake.  But I learned something this time: one of the pie plates full of peaches was not frozen solid so when I slid it into the freezer bag, it broke apart. So I took the freezer bag full of peaches and placed it inside the pie plate and froze it in the bag! What a revelation. I should have been doing this for years. Once the bag of fruit was frozen, I removed the pie plate.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Peach Cobbler

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

We're still swamped with peaches! For this recipe, I picked up a bowl full of peaches from the ground to make this fabulous peach cobbler. I like lots of fruits in my pies, cobblers and crisps and so for any recipe where 4 c of fruit is called for, I add six. For this cobber, I used 8 c because the fruit needs to be used.

To start, bring a bowl of water to a boil and drop the peaches in the water. Using a slotted spoon, remove the peaches after 1 minutes and drop into a bowl or sink of cold water. Remove the skins and the stone and put the cut peaches in an 8 c bowl.

To the bowl of peaches, add and stir together:
1 t cinnamon
2 T brown sugar
2 T flour
1 t vanilla

Pour the peach mixture into a greased baking pan or pie plate. Using the same bowl that the peaches were in (to save on clean up!), add:

1 c flour
3/4 c brown sugar
4 T cold butter
1 t baking powder
1/2 baking soda
a pinch of salt
2 t grated lemon peel
3/4 c buttermilk

Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a fork or pastry cutter until the pieces of butter and pea size.  Stir n the buttermilk and blend quickly. The dough will be wet.

Top the peaches with large dollops of the dough and bake at 425 degree F for 20 minutes. Top with ice cream or yogurt.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Peach Sorbet

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

We've been on a peach kick the last few weeks because our peach tree is abundant with delicious fruit. And we've been making lots of sorbet this summer from various fresh fruits like strawberry, blueberry and now peach.

This is an easy dessert to make but takes some planning ahead time as well as freezing time depending on the ice cream maker that you have. Our ice cream maker requires freezing the canister for 24 hours ahead of time so I always keep it in the freezer just in case I want to make a frozen dessert.

First, I went outside and picked a bunch of peaches!  Then I boiled some water and dropped the peaches in for about one minute to make it easy to remove the skins. I didn't need a knife; I just peeled the skins away with my fingers.

Into a blender, I put:
6 c peaches

The peaches were blended until creamy. Then I added:
1 c sugar
4 1/2 t lemon juice
4 1/2 t vodka

No, the vodka does not affect the flavor but it does help the sorbet freeze more smoothly and without crystals forming.

The mix was blended for just 10-15 seconds, just until well mixed, and then chilled for 3-4 hours. This is a one container recipe--I blended all the ingredients in the blender and chilled it in the same container.

The peach mix was poured into the ice cream maker and 25 minutes later, a thick peach sorbet was ready. We couldn't wait: we ate some of the soft peach sorbet and then froze the remainder in a plastic container for later use.  I will be making more of this to freeze for later--I can just imagine a January night eating this sorbet and thinking of summer!