Saturday, November 10, 2007

Refuge in the kitchen

I spent most of the day in the kitchen today... enjoying the simple tasks of cooking and chopping and slicing and stirring. Even though we got our new oven & fridge a few weeks back, today was my first day to really dive in. It was also my first chance to break open one of my new cookbooks, Veganomicon. I know I'm totally behind the times.

The first order of business was to tend to my ruthlessly fruitful apple tree. I gathered one entire grocery back of unsalvagable apples - rotten beyond the turning point. And then I gathered another entire bag of apples in need of immediate action (just a little bit buggy/wormy/rotten). So I got to work: washing, cut off the grody parts, peel the apples, and then cut up into quarters. My first order of business was homemade applesauce.

It was a nice thing to do, because it was my grandma who taught me about making homemade applesauce... so while I chopped and peeled I got to think of her. In the end I got 7 jars of **fantastic** applesauce. Honestly, I don't know what kind of apples we have, because it was the previous homeowner who planted that tree, but they are so delicious. They are great eaten fresh, great cooked up, and great in applesauce. What luck for us.

There was still a LOT more apples... so I also made up a batch of the Apple Peanut Butter Caramel Bars from Veganomicon. I just noticed that Diann also made these. I must say, I had absolutely no luck getting the caramel to "fall off the fork in ribbons" - that was simply NOT happening! Rather than "drizzling" the caramel on, it was more like dropping giant clumps. I made these for my book club meeting tomorrow... so I'll have to give you a review later. Hopefully they'll look a bit more... uh... appetizing when they're cut up into bars tomorrow. I've also just got a huge bowl of apple slices in the fridge to munch on for the next couple of days.

This morning I cooked up a big pot of beautiful Christmas Lima Beans (big red beans speckled with white dots), and also a big batch of veggie broth. For dinner I made us the "Mediterranean Baked Lima Beans" (or something like that) from Veganomicon. Very nice flavor. I only added a pinch of salt, but otherwise followed the recipe pretty closely. I served it with steamed green beans from the farmer's market & some fresh bread.

It was nice to be in the kitchen... somehow I found it very calming and peaceful to be busy with the food. Just going to the farmers market this morning, and then picking my apples, gave me a sense of time and season and nature. And all the busy work of peeling and cleaning 3 buckets of apples gave me something tangible and practical to do & accomplish. During a week of such intensity and mystery, it was quite a relief to work on something so straight-forward. :) And yummy.


  1. how fun that you got to "dive into" your new kitchen, AND use your newly-received copy of Veganomicon!! don't worry, you're not alone in being behind the times - I've had that cookbook for at least 2 or 3 weeks now, and I still haven't made anything from it yet!! eek!!

    you're so lucky to have an apple tree - I'd LOVE to have homemade applesauce made with apples from a tree in my yard! and that's so wonderful that it was something that your grandmother taught you how to make - it's certainly one memory you'll be able to cherish about her :0)

    even though you couldn't get the caramel to "fall of the fork in ribbons," the Apple-Peanut-Butter-Caramel Bars still look quite scrumptious - I'm sure the book club members will love it!! and the Baked Lima Beans look delicious as well!

    "It was nice to be in the kitchen... somehow I found it very calming and peaceful to be busy with the food." I feel the same way, when I'm in the kitchen - especially after a long day of classes, exams, and assignments :0)

  2. Amey, I know exactly where you're coming from. I know exactly what it is to find refuge in the kitchen, to feel comforted by the everyday tasks, when life outside of the kitchen is anything but calm or ordinary. And the fruits of your labor look awesome, indeed. Those PB caramel bars look really good! And how cool that you made such good use of your apples- I'm very envious of your apple tree- I'd love to have any kind of fruit tree.

  3. Anonymous9:46 AM

    Amey, I am so sorry to hear about your Grandmother's passing. She sounds like a wonderful woman who was an inspiration to everyone around her. I am amazed by her tenacity and willpower to follow the Pritkin diet. I know it removing fat, salt and sweet would be the healthiest and most beneficial diet for me but I have such difficulty doing so. I often flip flop between wanting to live a very long life (which I equate with a Dr. Furhman diet) and wanting to enjoy the life I have (which I equate with eating fat and sweets). It seems your grandmother was able to beautifully blend the two and find a happy balance.

    Big hugs to you Amey.

  4. Anonymous7:52 PM

    Hi Amey... I'm glad you're finding some refuge. Keep hanging in there, taking care of yourself and eating well. Looks like you've got the eating well covered anyway ;-)

  5. Ooh, I want to make the Apple Peanut Butter Caramel Bars soon!
    I'm still envious of your plethora of apples. I can't buy them fast enough around here!

  6. I am very jealous of your apple tree. I would love to have a fruit tree in my back yard. I would have to get used to the bugs, but I would be so happy to know that my fruit was free of harsh chemicals and wasn't being handled by tons of hands.

    I know what you mean about that feeling you get when cooking in the kitchen. It's very peaceful and relaxing. Sunday nights are my staple nights of cooking!

  7. Hey, Amey. I'm glad you're finding comfort in the kitchen. You are so lucky to have apple trees! The caramel ribbons were tricky, huh! I had to keep reheating mine, then finally decided no one would notice a lack of ribbons after they were cut. They sure taste great though.

    Take care,


  8. Kirk Smith9:16 PM

    Amey, I didn't realize that lima beans had different varieties. The ones that you used, big red beans with speckled dots, are different from the only ones I am familiar with since I was a young boy and these lima beans were very pale light green; and as I remember, very sweet and tasty. I was interested in your blog and will follow with interest your affair with the lima beans.


  9. great post. i find the kitchen a very soothing place to be. i also often think of my grammie when i cook.

  10. It seems I must get Veganomicon as everyone appears to be finding some great recipes there.

    Must be great to have an apple tree. I am a bit wary of most apples here due to them being sprayed with who knows what and organic ones rarely available. I really must learn to bottle them when they are.

  11. Even without the perfect caramel ribbons, thoe apple-caramel bars look divine enough to make me want to eat them right off my computer screen!

  12. I agree with chocolatecoveredvegan - ribbons or not - SWOON.


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