About a month ago I got made fun of for wearing a sweater and jeans in 80° weather. This is a yearly problem for me come the end of August. I am just itching to get into sweaters, jeans, boots and maybe a jacket. Fall is my favorite season hands down. Our family orchard is in full swing, the trees dripping with fruit ripe for the picking. Maybe being a part of this family means a certain genetic predisposition to love this season but it can’t be helped. Honey crisp, Gala, Elstar, Swiss Gourment, Mollie’s Delicious and McIntosh’s are all jumping off the trees into our hands for enjoyment. The leaves will soon start to turn, mimicking the fruit they bear; some a little green with a flash of scarlet racing across the skin. Today I stopped by the orchard to snag my favorite apples — the more old-fashioned varietals — Elstar and Swiss Gourmet. The first bite I popped off the Elstar created a heart shape and I couldn’t help but chuckle. I guess they learn after 125 years on the same orchard. How well the apple knew its consumer.
After much harranging by my mother, I decided to get the swine flue vaccine today. I was so NOT going to get it after watching this video…which admittedly made me laugh uncontrollably for a short time before I freaked out a bit. The news story triggered my friends to respond to any comment with “I’m just cherishing every step”. So, when I got home today after tokyo driftin’ my way through ridiculous snow filled streets, I decided to make sorbet and pie for the first time ever. Since I have to wait 10 days to figure out if I’ll be rendered insanely disabled from a shot, I’m gonna live it up with some sweet food.
For the past 4 hours, I’ve been watching VH1′s 100 Most Shocking Music Moments while cooking. I started off with George Jones getting a DUI for driving raving drunk on his John Deer lawn mower down a highway and my great grandmother Grace’s pie crust recipe.
All mixed up in a bowl:
2 cups flour
6-7 tablespoons of butter
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
a little salt (and probably a little sugar)
enough ice water and extra flour to make a nonsticky dough
Rolled out and then draped in a butter lined pie pan
Then I layered pretty slices of Beckwith Orchards Jonagold apples, fontina cheese, Ghiradelli unsweetened cocoa powder, more apples and crushed up baking chocolate. I think next time I’ll layer the very top with sugar before placing the top crust. I gotta say it’s kinda weird because the cheese gives the slightest chewiness to the other textures but fontina isn’t a particularly strong cheese so it doesn’t overpower the other tastes. Definitely more sugar next time.
I’m coming up to the last few days before my ALS Beer Dinner Event goes down and things are getting down to the wire in a fun and slightly overwhelming way! Luckily over the summer I secured awesomely generous donations from three incredible local Ohio microbreweries: Thirsty Dog, Buckeye Brewing and Hoppin’ Frog. These guys really blew me away with their donations, encouragement and enthusiasm not to mention they are my favorite Ohio microbreweries.
From Thirsty Dog: Raspberry Ale, Labrador Lager, Lunar Lager and Old Leghumper Porter
From Buckeye: Zatek Old Ale, 76 IPA, Old Mammoth Stout
From Hoppin’ Frog: Wee Heavy Scotch Red Ale, BORIS Oatmeal Impy
As for the menu, I’ve been striving for all local and all donated which is a little tough as it turns out but I’ve had some great feedback and donations from local businesses in terms of food donations and raffle prizes. Sometimes I feel like I need a permanent assistant to follow me around while I dictate my insanely long To-Do Lists and navigate the web of email responses. Luckily I have a great team of volunteers selling raffle tickets, helping prep food and awesome friends keeping my brain from becoming an addled mush.
To the meat of the issue, here’s why I’m doing this fundraiser: this dinner is for the benefit of Lou Gehrig’s Disease (aka Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis) research. This is a cause I’ve supported for 5 years since the disease claimed my father. In memory of the 5th anniversary of his death, I thought he’d especially appreciate an event featuring our two favorite things, beer and food. Funds raised will go directly to Project ALS in the hopes that continued, proactive research will find a cure for this terminal, neuromuscular degenerative disease.
The event features a 5 course meal paired with samples of 9 different beers. There will be a raffle where you can win prizes like a Pumpkin Beer gift basket donated by Rozi’s Wine and Liquor House, a custom made cake from local baker extraordinaire Liz Keeney, gift certificates to the Village Deli and Middle Ground, beer steins and a Kenyon blanket from the College Bookstore.
Grilled hot italian sausage with lemon and cilantro
Sweet potatoes Anna
Local cheese plate with local chocolates, Beckwith apples and cider
Mini BORIS pancakes with honey
*sorbet palate cleanser in between courses of Thirsty Dog’s Raspberry Ale
I’ve been lucky enough to grow up in a family that has owned a working orchard for 5 generations. At Beckwith Orchards we grow peaches both red haven and white lady, apples, pears and yellow plums and bring in corn and potatoes from another local farm. There is not one picture to be found where a Beckwith baby isn’t holding, gnawing or drooling on a Beckwith apple. My first picture happened to be me nestled in a picking bag full of apples strapped to my Grandpa Charlie.
I’ve often asked why we don’t produce the hard version of cider since we produce the regular nectar of gods. The answer I got was pretty vague, but my guess is we already put a lot of work into harvesting, pruning, killing destructive deer and ground hogs, sorting, selling, the list goes on — there’s just not enough time to add another facet. So this October when the cider comes in I’m going to try my hand at some wild yeast fermentation and see what comes of it. The closest I’ve gotten to turning our cider into hard cider is leaving it in the fridge for 2 weeks, watching the plastic jug bloat like a dead body and drink the stuff with a bite. Advice is welcome!