Waking up locked in a cranberry bog was something I never expected to scratch off my “done it” list, but thanks to hectic & rainy trip out to the Cape last month, I can say it’s been done. While it makes for a pretty awesome story (obviously), our intentions (honestly) were not to sleep in a bog. As with most of our sporadic trips, we started driving south with no resting place in mind. Navigator Erin to the rescue! Or so we thought… I thought I had found a cheap’ish, no minimum night stay campground to pitch a tent at, but alas by the time we arrived, the gates were already closed and our next best option was sneaking down a dark dirt road with the hopes of no one kicking us out during our slumber. The best part about arriving somewhere after the sun goes down is waking up the next morning and thinking “WOW, look where we landed… a freaking cranberry bog!!” Had it not been for our little oops moment, I wouldn’t have known that cranberries 1) were grown in bogs, and 2) grown on Cape Cod.
Last November I successfully made my first really GOOD cranberry sauce. Much like this recipe, it was booze infuzed (ruby red port) which led to a fun evening… “the recipe only calls for a cup and a half of booze… what to do with the rest of it…”. I’ve already talked about my opinions of girls drinking whiskey (badass) so I won’t get into it here, but I had half a bottle of bourbon let over after the honey bourbon mustard I made earlier this week. With 5lbs of local Maine cranberries from Sugar Hill Cranberry Co, I figured it was time to get going on this year’s cranberry creations.
Last weekend the beau and I randomly decided to head north into western Maine towards Rangeley Lake. Albeit mildly comfortable and somewhat romantic, we decided that car camping wasn’t an option (again) and opted for tent camping instead. Unprepared, hungry, and a tad bit bored we hit the local minimart for food, firewood, and… whiskey. One would think that after several flavored alcohol fueled hangovers that I would have learned to steer clear of such evil evil elixirs… “I’ll take a bottle of that Canadian Club Dock no. 57 blackberry whiskey, please!” To say the least, only about half the bottle was consumed and I won at our rendition of whiskey cribbage.
Back in town Monday morning I found myself thinking, “What the hell am I going to do with the rest of this fire syrup?” Later that morning, while getting my muffler looked at in Barrington, NH (apparently logging an average of 300 miles/weekend on a 40yr old car is problematic), I happened to pass a “peaches” sign which led me to Union Lake Peach Orchard. I drove 5 miles off the beaten path to realize that I had no cash in my wallet and that country orchard stands don’t typically take plastic (surprise). The quick trip back to the ATM was well worth it as the 6lbs of yellow peaches that I I brought home were some of the best I’ve tasted in years. Word is that the orchard is debuting their white peaches next week!! Not only were these pickled peaches the answer to my left over whiskey woes, but I’m looking forward to cracking open a jar during the duldrums of winter hoping the blast of summer flavor will revitalize my palate and remind me of why… oh why… I moved to the frigid Northeast. Enjoy!
Another day, another chutney! Last week I made my first chutney, and while this pear chutney was a huge success at the various Thanksgiving festivities, it was a bit more savory than I had originally hoped for. Back to the drawing cu-board, I approached this chutney with sugar in mind. Omitting the scallions kicked the savory flavor, but with the addition of the orange zest and juice, this chutney took on a whole new, somewhat surprising, citrus flavor. What I’ve came to realize is how quickly making chutney becomes a black box chemistry experiment. Then again, any cooking is an experiment for me, but with chutney any little ingredient alteration exhibits a huge flavor change, in this case it was with the orange. With 5.5 pounds of apples, this recipe yielded more than I was expecting (9 half pints = Christmas gifts). To achieve my desired liquid consistency, I ended up cooking this down for over an hour and a half. Not only did that give me time to tweak the ingredients, but it also made the apartment smell amazing!