What a beautiful week of autumn weather we've been having! Went to Prospect Park yesterday afternoon to kick through the crunching leaves and smell that wonderful scent of damp leaves, fallen acorns, and rich earth. Many kids, dogs, and soccer players were out on the main meadow, and Christina called as I strolled, to see if I could make up a cookie recipe involving apple-cider syrup, oats, non-wheat flours, and perhaps some flax seed. You know I like a challenge--we'll see what evolves. It's a season for gingerbread right now, especially for breakfast spread with apple butter. I'm in love with the homemade spicy apple butter in my fridge, and can rest easy knowing that I have about a dozen jars waiting in the closet for holiday gifts. Now, onto more pear butter, more grape jelly, and perhaps a try at crab apple jelly, or paradise jelly--I'm wondering if I couldn't make with crab apples, quince, and cranberry, rather than plain apples, which make too mild a jelly for my taste. Jellymaking always leaves me with a pang, though, when it comes to tossing out all that fruit pulp from the jelly bag.
Anyway, more gingerbread recipes to follow; I made Laurie Colwin's favorite gingerbread last week, using the Steen's Cane Syrup she recommends (part of the Southern-food haul brought back from the SFA conference last year). I'd made it before and remembered liking it, but this time, it was a disappointment--bland and buttery, and not nearly gingery-spicy enough for my taste, even though I'd added a couple of tsps. of fresh grated ginger in with the dried. However, the host at the dinner party to which I'd brought it adored it, and swore he ate the whole leftover half-cake for breakfast the next morning. I think I'm just used to the brawniness of regular molasses, and missed the darkness and richness of flavor it imparts. Perhaps I can save the rest of the cane syrup for a winter sticky toffee pudding for B., since it seems quite similar to the Lyle's Golden Syrup called for by most of the recipes for toffee pud. The next gingerbread will be my old favorite, an adaptation of a Martha Stewart Living recipe calling for dried, fresh, and candied ginger, and plenty of 'lasses. I don't have candied ginger on hand, but I do have knobs of ginger in syrup, which seems like an able substitute. And then there is John Thorne's Moosehead Lake Gingerbread, a Maine hunting camp recipe that uses black pepper, dry mustard, and bacon grease. Mmmmm. Now that's a breakfast to put hair on your chest and a deer on your hood.
FYI to Fresh Direct fans: If you're not going the fresh, farmers-market turkey route (and having had three different fresh, free-range turkeys last year during my three-day T-day redux, I can attest to the huge difference in flavor from a well-raised bird versus an unhappy factory-farmed supermarket one), grocery-delivery service Fresh Direct will GIVE you a frozen 10-12 lb bird, for free, when you buy stuff from them this month. I'm not sure how much you have to buy to get the giveaway, or what it says about livestock management in this country when companies can afford to use entire birds as loss leaders, but hey, enter in code "Frozturkey" during checkout and you'll git your bird.