The waiting is the hardest part.
-Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
I used to revile fruitcake, but in recent years a description by Jeffrey Steingarten has made me more receptive to the dish.
…full of dark, saturated medieval tastes and colors… aged for a year and then set aflame at the very last minute, carefully spooned out like the treasure it is…
I became mildly interested in the idea of aging baked goods, but I still regarded fruitcake as a gaudy curiosity. Then I came across fruitcake in the memoirs of a woman who grew up during the depression in Northern Ontario, called On Turnips, Teas, and Threshing Bees. Her description of fruitcake, and the lengths her family … Continue reading.
Step One: Acquire Grouse
A friend’s father, Mr. McLarney, hunts game birds with his English pointer. I had never, not once, paused to consider the signficance of common canine descriptors like pointer, setter, and retriever, until Mr. McLarney’s hunts were explained to me. The dog walks a ways in front of him, and when it comes upon a bird it stops and “points”: it aims its snout at the prey. Mr. McLarney moves within range and readies his gun, then makes a call to the pointer. At the signal, the dog scares the bird into flight, so that Mr. McLarney can pull it from the sky with his shotgun.
Mr. McLarney trained his pointer in his backyard with a … Continue reading.
A few of the many wild edibles that are in season in and around Edmonton in early fall:
Highbush cranberries are traditionally picked after the first frost, when they are said to be sweetest. I don’t know if the freezing temperature itself does something to sweeten the fruit, or if it’s simply that waiting until the first frost gives the fruit the longest possible time to ripen and sweeten.
Cool, cloudy summers like the one we’ve just had yield berries with more acid and less sugar. Even so, the berries will still be good, so go pick a handful to save for Thanksgiving dinner.
Cornucopic clusters of chokecherries hang along the trails of the river valley this … Continue reading.
Rumtopf, literally “rum pot”, is a traditional German fruit preserve. As each type of fruit comes into season, it is macerated with sugar, placed in the pot, then covered with rum. Traditional rumtopfen are earthenware pots with heavy lids, but any wide-mouthed, non-reactive vessel can be used.
I use about one part sugar to two parts fruit, by weight, for each addition.
Once the last layer of fruit is added, the mixture steeps for a few months, and is traditionally eaten around Christmas.
The mixture goes through some profound transformations during aging. It loses the striking vibrancy seen above and turns a uniform burgundy. The liquor loses its clarity and becomes murky, with an exceptionally rich mouthfeel, verging on … Continue reading.
Ever since Neil brought me a recipe for limoncello from Capris, I’ve been eager to try some sort of fruit infusion of alcohol. My surplus of raspberries from Roy’s seemed like divine providence. Here is my recipe for raspberry liqueur.
adapted from a souvenir-bar-towel recipe for limoncello
•750 g raspberries
•750 mL Everclear grain alcohol
•750 mL water
•750 g granulated sugar
•500 mL fresh lemon juice, strained of pulp and seeds
- Pour the grain alcohol and raspberries into a large glass container. Mash the berries, cover the mixture tightly, and leave for two weeks. This is the infusion.
- Pour the infusion through a wire strainer to remove the berry pulp. Discard said pulp.
- Make a
… Continue reading.