Procrastinators? Us? Really? Just because we haven’t blogged in over a while (October was really busy, and then there were the holidays, and we really do have manuscript deadlines), it doesn’t mean we didn’t have ideas that we just never got around to writing about… Or that we put off going to the grocery store for what Patric called “a shameful, pitiful” amount of time… And that laundry basket of spare bed linens may have been sitting there since April, but there’s nothing urgent in there to be washed (isn’t that what spare means?)…
Ok. We’re procrastinators. But at least we’re very good at it.
There are some things, though, that you can’t procrastinate about no matter how hard the urge strikes you. One of those things is an enormous box of fresh pears. They can only sit there for so long before very bad things start to happen, and you can only eat so many of them fresh. We received just such a box from Newman Farms (yes, the pork people have pears, too, and I do plan on making something that combines the two
in the near future at some point).
So, I decided to make pear preserves. With this quantity of pears, this is not a one-person endeavor, so I started out by drafting Paul and Patric to help with the peeling, coring, and dicing of pears. We started later in the day than we should have (surprise!), and there were really a lot of pears in that box, so it was midnight and Patric the pear peeler extraordinaire was ready to never see another pear for the rest of his life when we were done. I got the dicing job, so I was close to being in a pear coma. It might have been a sugar coma, because these were really good pears, and dicing leads to eating. That’s why I took that job. To put this all in perspective, we ended up with 24 pounds of diced pears. That’s right. After processing, these pears weighed more than our overweight cat, Van Peesman. That’s saying something, there. Especially since he ate some of them. That’s a whole other story there, though.
Anyway, we let them all macerate overnight with sugar in the refrigerator safely away from Van, and the next day (believe it or not) Patric and I made pear preserves. Since I’m more than a little bit insane, we ended up with twenty small batches of differently seasoned pear preserves. (I figured with that many pears, we’d get tired of plain before long.) We have pears with crystallized ginger, with cardamom, with cloves, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, cayenne, berbere, rosemary, thyme, black pepper, lemon zest, orange zest, fennel, smoked paprika, ancho chile, mace, Chinese five spice, and vanilla. See. More than a little bit insane, but we’ll have pears for every occasion for a long time.
Since it took me so long to get around to finishing this post, as a side note, cardamom pears turned out to be the winner hands down. Cinnamon is nice and homey. The rest were really interesting, and none of them turned out inedible, so I put that in the win column. I wish I had tried a garam masala batch now. Oh well, maybe next time.
There’s also been a cookie recipe bumping around in my brain for a while that I finally broke down and made. This is one of those dump cookies that has a little bit of everything in it, but they turned out nicely if I do say so myself.
The soy sauce gives these cookies the salt they need as well as a richer, umami flavor that contrasts well with the sweet elements. I used whole wheat flour, and while the cookies ended up darker in color, they were delicious. You could use a darker chocolate if you prefer. The peanut butter can be omitted, but it keeps the cookies moist.
- 8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon Japanese soy sauce
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats
- 2 cups chopped pecans
- 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
- sea salt to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- Prepare a baking sheet by lining with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- In a large bowl, beat together the butter and peanut butter until fluffy with an electric mixer.
- Add the brown sugar, vanilla extract, and soy sauce and beat until combined.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating until the first egg is combined before adding the second egg.
- Lower the mixer speed to low or stir, and gradually add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg, making sure each addition is incorporated before adding the next.
- Stir in the oats, pecans, chocolate chips, and cranberries.
- Drop the cookies by the tablespoon onto the prepared cookie sheet. Sprinkle them lightly with sea salt.
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.
- Allow the cookies to cool completely on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.