Mountain Time

14 Nov

Merry Christmas!

Er. Uhm. No.  Happy Thanksgiving?  Yeah, no, that’s not right either.  Let’s see… Happy Election Day… No… That’s over too… As is daylight savings time… Hmm.  How about Happy Friday! Yeah, there we go.  Having “Christmas” at the beginning of November can be very discombobulating!  It’s also a lot of fun.

We arrived in Denver and headed straight for the mountains after a stop in Boulder for provisions where we were followed around a Whole Foods by Queen Elizabeth the First and her consort. (Okay, not really, but there were two people in renaissance costumes trailing us the whole time we were in the store, which is also discombobulating when you’ve just arrived in a place with a whole lot less oxygen in the air than you’re used to).

Colorado fills me with wild fantasies which grow more vivid with every trip.  By the end of this visit I was ready to ditch my life in New York and buy a pickup truck, a little cabin in the mountains, some snowshoes and trusty dog.  I would wake up every morning and run up and down mountains for fun, and then support us by making endless batches of peach jam to sell to clueless New Yorkers who have never had a Colorado peach.

Isaac’s mother’s neighbor gave her a little jar of this jam that I greedily inhaled at every opportunity.  I swear, I don’t think I have ever tasted anything more delicious in my entire life.  It pulsated with the radiance of summer.  With each bite of my morning’s toast it was like I could feel the luscious peach juices dripping down my chin.

But that wasn’t the only fruit that starred in our long “holiday” weekend.  There were also apples that Isaac and I brought along from upstate.  I roasted them with pork, and added them to a cider and maple glaze and tossed them with green beans and pecans for our “Christmas” dinner.  There wasn’t a chance they could ever be as wonderful as the peaches, but they definitely stood their own.

It was nerve-wracking cooking for another family who’s culinary likes and dislikes I wasn’t privy to, but I think it all went well.  Most plates were shiny clean by the end of dinner.

And then, after another hike and some glorious views and a dinner out for green chili and excellent beans, it was time to come back to New York.  I was sad, but I missed my house, and my coworkers missed me.  But, I’ve got a plan to score more of that peach jam… Next year, I’m going to make some jam from the high bush blackberries in the backyard and broker a trade.

If I can’t live in Colorado, I’m going to damn well ensure a steady supply of Colorado peach jam!

Head below the jump for the recipes for An Apple Feast, Fit For “Christmas.”

Pork Loin with Apples

prep time: 20  minutes ~ cooking time: 1 1/2 hours

  • 1 2-3 lb Pork Loin
  • 5 Apples
  • 1 package frozen Pearl Onions
  • Sage
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 bottle Samuel Smith’s Organic Apple Cider
  • Maple Syrup
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • a little minced Garlic
  • Chile Flakes or a pinch of minced Serrano Chile

Pre-heat the oven to 400°F.

Cut the sides off for of the apples and arrange in the middle of a roasting pan.  Arrange the other apple scraps of apple, cut from the core along, with the pearl onions around the apple halves in the roasting pan.

Chop up the sage finely and leave on the cutting board.  Add a big pinch of salt and pepper and mix them up on the cutting board.  Wash the pork loin, allow to drip dry, then roll it in the seasoning mixture on the cutting board, coating well on all sides.  Place the loin, fat side up, on top of the apples in the roasting pan.  Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place in the oven.  Allow to cook for an hour.

While the pork is cooking pour the cider in small sauce pan over medium-low heat.  While it is reducing cut off a chunk of the apple and cut into small cubes (cut the rest of the apple into small cubes too, toss with a bit of vinegar and set aside to mix with green beans for a nice side dish).  Add to the cider.  Add a small dash of apple cider and a big glug of maple syrup.

Continue cooking until the liquid is almost gone and coats the back of a spoon.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.  Taste, and add more maple syrup or cider until you achieve a well balanced glaze.  Flavor with salt, pepper, garlic and chile to taste.

After an hour, carefully remove the pork from the oven and the foil from the pork.  Pour the glaze over the pork and return to the oven.  Turn the heat down to 350°F and allow to cook another 20-30 minutes, until the glaze is a bit browned and aromatic.

Remove from the oven and allow the meat to rest a few minutes.  Toss the onions in the remaining pan juices.

To serve: Slice the pork and give each person a roasted apple and some onions.  Enjoy!

Green Beans with Apples (to go with Pork Loin with Apples)

prep time: 10 minutes ~ cooking time: 20 minutes

  • 1 bag frozen Haricots Vert
  • Olive Oil
  • Minced Garlic
  • Chile Flakes or minced Serrano Chile
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Cubed Apple, tossed with vinegar from Pork recipe above
  • 2 handfuls Pecans
  • Maple Syrup
  • Lemon Juice
  • Butter

In a large skillet, heat a small glug of olive oil over medium heat.  Add a lot of minced garlic and a pinch of chile flake or minced serrano.  Cook a few minute until fragrant.  Add the frozen beans and turn up the heat a bit.  Toss to coat with the oil and add the apples.  Season with salt and pepper.

When the beans have thawed and the apples are beginning to lose their hard edges, add the pecans, a drizzle of maple syrup, a dash of lemon juice and a pat of butter.  Cook until all ingredients are combined, a few minutes.  Turn off the heat and serve with pork loin.  Enjoy!

Squash & Greens

prep time: 20 minutes ~ cooking time (minus roasting): 30 minutes

  • 1 large or 2 small Butternut Squash cut in half, seeds removed
  • 1 large Onion, sliced
  • Olive Oil
  • minced Garlic
  • 1 bunch hearty cooking greens, like Kale or Collards sliced into thin ribbons
  • Maple Syrup
  • Butter

Roast the squash in the oven until soft.  Allow to cool then scoop the flesh out of the shells.

In a very large, deep skillet over medium heat, add a glug of olive oil and a lot of minced garlic.  Add the greens and cook until wilted. Add the squash flesh.  Stir to incorporate (it will be lumpy).  Season with salt, pepper, a large pat of butter and a good glug of maple syrup.  A pinch of chile is nice in this too.  Enjoy!


13 Responses to “Mountain Time”

  1. Julie November 14, 2008 at 9:34 am #

    Welcome back! Colorado looks beautiful, but (and please don’t tell the Coloradans) I don’t think any of these places look quite as beautiful as the area around your house.

  2. Marie November 14, 2008 at 5:08 pm #

    It’s funny how good jam can make one practically weep with appreciation…I suppose it’s the essence-ial nature of it.

  3. Will B November 14, 2008 at 7:45 pm #

    Now everybody’s going to buy all that peach jam I have been enjoying on my morning biscuits! Welcome home. Nothing like the high country for a little relaxation and recharging. Great pics.

  4. Lucy V November 15, 2008 at 1:09 am #

    Wow what a beautiful trip. I want some of that jam.

  5. ann November 15, 2008 at 8:28 am #

    Julie — I agree. I love my house so much! Its so nice to be back here again :-)

    Marie — I’ve never really “understood” jam until this point, honestly. It was always good, but never earth-shattering. Now I know…

    Will — HA! So you’re the on that’s been cornering the market! Well, I’ve found you out now ;-) Just kidding, but I’m glad you understand.

    Lucy — If I manage to score some next year, maybe we can work out a trade for, say, something very French :-)

  6. Marusya November 15, 2008 at 11:50 am #

    I was just thinking yesterday that I need to show The Girlfriend some good simple vegetable side recipes. (She only ever serves steamed broccoli or overcooked asparagus). That apple-bean recipe will be great with chicken…..

  7. Anne November 17, 2008 at 3:06 pm #

    Glad I’m not the only one who gets “Vacation Fantasy Move” thoughts. Whenever I like a place, I immediately imagine living my life there. And it generally involves a cabin and a dog. Though for Barcelona it was a flat and a black cat.

    Your description has got ME wanting Colorado peach jam. Can I trade you a jar for Georgia Peach Jam?

  8. ann November 17, 2008 at 8:32 pm #

    Marusya — Oh, I hope she likes it! You should get her the Alice Waters Veggie cookbook for a holiday present. So many wonderful ideas in there.

    Anne — Oh hell yeah! Peach jam for peach jam? I’m in! Now, I just need to figure out how to score a few jars :-)

  9. Toni November 18, 2008 at 11:12 pm #

    Oh, do I get the whole “Get Outta Dodge” thing! It recharges my batteries every time I go to New Mexico, where it isn’t any kind of jam, but chili that revs my engine. But your description of that jam made my mouth water. Now, what can I make that would entice a trade…….;-)

  10. caviar and codfish November 19, 2008 at 9:12 am #

    Wow, what a lovely visit. (Jim and I are always saying we’re going to pack up and move to Colorado-I guess it’s an east-coaster’s fantasy)

  11. Christina November 19, 2008 at 11:30 pm #

    What a beautiful trip. Kudos to you for cooking for another family–I’m very impressed!

  12. ann November 20, 2008 at 6:42 am #

    Toni — New Mexico Chili… I thought of you actually, when we drove by a sign advertising Hatch Chiles. Unfortunately they had gone of the day, so, I guess we now know what kind of trade might get a jar of that jam ;-)

    Robin — Ha! And here I thought the east coast fantasy was to move to Maine or England or some other place with weather worse than ours!

    Christina — Thanks! It wasn’t nerve wracking until we all sat down and I was like, “crud, now they have to eat it!”

  13. Maris November 24, 2008 at 12:59 pm #

    These are some of the most gorgeous pictures I’ve ever seen! I love the pictures of the trees and the landscapes.

    I like just about anything with apples but I never thought of pairing them with green beans – such a good idea!

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