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October 24, 2011

“Chutney,” said the voice, and I obeyed
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 05:17 PM *

I do not do well on my own.

I don’t mean that I can’t stand my own company, though I do tend to disappear into myself when left really alone for a few days. But even before that, I find that I get these…ideas. It’s a classic crafter’s problem: unoccupied days and evenings stretch before me in empty perfection, and that little voice starts up. You could go back to naalbinding, it says into the echoing silence of the dining room. At night, as the house sits all too still with only me breathing inside, it murmurs, You could figure out cuir ciselĂ© book covers. The leather is right there under your workbench, getting no closer to returning to the cows and goats. And there’s no one around to walk into the room where I’m puttering and say, “What, exactly, are you doing with those eggshells and sandpaper?”

The thing is, Martin and the kids have formed the habit of going to Scotland for the school’s autumn break, leaving me behind to work and get some space in my head. And I do, until the voice starts, and then I find myself making stuff, usually in the kitchen. Last year, it was spiced vodka, infused with cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice, and crushed bits of nutmeg.1

This year, the little voice was whispering about the pears in Martin’s study. Wicked little voice.

You see, we have a pear tree in the back garden. Our first year here, it produced a solitary pear, which fell to the ground during an autumn windstorm and rotted in place. In our second year, it grew a good dozen, raining them down on the plants in its bed like meteors on hapless dinosaurs. In the third, it used a score or so to bombard my poor dripping, mildewing green tomatoes. This year, though, it’s finally hit its stride and has produced basketfuls. But these are not soft, sweet pears, rosy-skinned and slightly grainy on the tongue. Oh, no: these are green rocks, each as big as a softball, hard and astringent as a long-term cynic in a casino.

So we decided to try ripening them indoors. But after nearly a month, they had simply changed from being hard and astringent to soft and astringent. Leaving them longer was going to invite rot. So, because Martin has been making Indian food lately, the word the little voice murmured in my ear was chutney.

But what kind of chutney? I replied. The little voice, probably startled that its own personal abyss was staring back at it, fell silent, leaving me to Google up recipes. Because chutney is like soup: it can be anything, from a sweet jam-like substance with mangoes all the way to limes in the kind of super-spicy oil that I can’t even touch a finger to. In this case, I wanted something more like the former than the latter.

So I experimented, butchering one pear a night for a week. I tried onion (fail) and mango (win), powdered spices (boring) and fresh ones (yum), and started making my own candied ginger2. And by the end of the week, I had the following recipe.

10 pears
2 mangoes
2 c raisins
1 c vinegar
3 c apple juice
1 1/4 c sugar
1/4 c ground turmeric
1/4 c ground cinnamon
1 T candied ginger, chopped fine
2 T spice mix, containing equal quantities of the following whole spices, violently pounded to pieces:
  • fennel seeds
  • nutmeg
  • cloves
  • coriander seeds
  • cardamom
  • allspice

Peel the pears and mangoes, then chop them into cubes of a size you’re willing to eat in a chutney. Toss everything into a pot and stir until it’s mixed up (don’t let the turmeric clump). Cook over a high heat until it boils, stirring constantly. Turn the stove down and simmer gently for a couple of hours, until the pear is soft and flavorful. If the liquid starts to taste chalky or grainy, add a bit more apple juice or water and call yourself done; it’s getting too concentrated. If the liquid all boils away, add a bit more apple juice or water and again call yourself done; burned chutney is not in anyone’s tradition.

Use a pierced spoon to put the chutney into sterilized canning jars. You may have delicious liquid left over, which invites more cleverness than I had left by this point. (Tell me what you do with it!) Put lids on3 and immerse in a boiling water bath. I left them in for about 20 minutes, which was certainly more than they needed to seal. Remove jars from water and allow to cool, testing seals afterward. Since badly preserved food is a lovely source of botulism, whatever you’re not sure is well-sealed should be treated like any other open jar of food, and eaten in a reasonable span of time. Sealed jars should last a good year.

This recipe yields about 10 cups of chutney. I made two batches,4 and am consequently drowning in the stuff.

The little voice doesn’t talk to me any more. It could be that Martin and the kids got back yesterday to marvel at the jars on the counter. It could be that it’s run out of things to say. Or it could just be that its little mouth is full of pear and mango chutney.

Wicked little voice. What will it murmur next?

  1. I still have a couple of bottles of it. It’s quite a sharp mixture, but it does lovely things to Licor 43 (a sweet citrus-and-vanilla liqueur from Spain).
  2. That stuff disappears fast. I leave it on the counter and it seems to melt away. In unrelated news, my mouth is on fire.
  3. When I started this project, I didn’t know what served as canning jars here, or where to find them. I’m used to American ring-and-dome lid arrangements, but hadn’t seen any in shops. It turns out that they use jar-and-gasket arrangements.
  4. Unlike jam recipes, which should not be doubled, go ahead and double or halve this one. We’re not trying to get it to jell, which is the risk in messing with recipes with pectin.

Making Light recipe index

Comments on "Chutney," said the voice, and I obeyed:
#1 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2011, 05:46 PM:

This post is making a very compelling point to me about visiting Amsterdam some day. And by "some day" I mean "before all that chutney disappears". (Too late for the ginger, I see.)

#2 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2011, 05:57 PM:

"Wicked little voice. What will it murmur next?"

'Eyeball. Hamster. Make it so.'

#3 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2011, 05:58 PM:

Fade @ 1... Too late for the ginger

It's never too late for Ginger.

#4 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2011, 06:07 PM:

I have one of those voices; it doesn't do much tell me what I should be making, but it does tell me to buy large quantities of various foodstuffs. This past Thursday saw me purchasing a flat of San Marzano tomatoes... while my Amazing Girlfriend looked on, wondering what we'd do with all of them. We're down to a quarter pound now.

#5 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2011, 06:10 PM:

It's been fun watching you tweet about the development process over the last week. Is your candied ginger recipe available?

#6 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2011, 06:11 PM:

Those sound like delicious pears to me! But perhaps I'm underestimating their tartness.

The chutney also sounds great. And I had no idea you could candy ginger so easily; I'm used to thinking of candying as a ten-day process that I've never had the patience to attempt (and according to my snooty candy book it absolutely requires an optical densimeter). I guess ginger* is woody, so boiling hell out of it can only benefit its texture; I would NOT try that heuristic with, say, orange peel, which just turns into little bits of sugar-coated leather. (Yes, I failed even at making orange peel confit.)

*ginger, not Ginger. Ginger of the Fluorosphere is not woody.

#7 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2011, 07:18 PM:

[now that I'm not being bored out of my mind in a methods class for things I used to do for a living and have a real keyboard]

The tomatoes (about 10# or so) became a few tasty projects [all done in one evening when we needed a break from grad school labors].

We roasted a bunch (salt, pepper, olive oil) and had them on pasta with olive oil and sherry vinegar [nom]. Roast at 350 for 40min or so, then let cool. Boil your pasta, drain, mix in tomatoes, olive oil, sherry vinegar. Let sit for 5-10min, serve and eat.

We also roasted another batch (for 3-4 hours at 350F) and packed them in olive oil - they're now in the fridge, where the oil has gone opaque from the cold. We're planning on treating these more like sun-dried tomatoes than fresh; not as a central ingredient, but as a secondary flavor.

Another couple pounds got chopped and salted and are sitting in another jar in the fridge waiting to be turned into tomato sauce (probably tonight, assuming the class the Amazing Girlfriend and I were just in hasn't totally eaten our brains). Tomato sauce with excellent fresh tomatoes is very tasty. It usually (for us) involves capers. In "are capers a vegetable" quantity.

We also turned a pound or so into a tomato jam (remove seeds and pulp, chop; mince two cloves of garlic; toss in pot with 0.25c honey, 0.5c white wine vinegar, 0.25c sugar and cook on medium until done - makes an amazing condiment for softer cheeses).

#8 ::: Dave Trowbridge ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2011, 07:18 PM:

You may not be ripening your pears correctly. Pears should be harvested green and then refrigerated until ripe, which prevents them from softening too much before the sugars develop. Try this next year and you may be surprised at how different the pears taste. I think we have the same variety in our garden, and while they're not the greatest eating pears (we have a Comice pear tree for that), they're great canning or drying (or chutney) pears.

#9 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2011, 07:29 PM:

On the topic of candying, the Amazing Girlfriend and I have candied various citrus peels over the last several months. Doing serious candying is a moderate pain, but doing wet-pack candying (where the candied item gets to live in its own syrup) is pretty painless. We've got a 1L jar of candied grapefruit and orange peel in my fridge right now.

We've candied lemon and orange peels and covered them in sugar, but that's a really involved process - doing it right is several days of work - and if you don't do it really perfectly, the peel can grow fur. And it is really lame to dump several pounds of candied peel because it has gotten furry on you. So these days, we stick to wet-pack (which still works great). That said, if you do want to candy citrus peel, doing it right and then coating it in chocolate is awesome (my parents and grandparents approved, as did my Amazing Girlfriend's parents and grandmother).

This Candied Ginger Root [And It Works for Other Stuff Too] is our go-to candying recipe. It requires nothing other than a good pot (3qt* or larger) and an accurate candy thermometer (our current one was an Amazon special, about $20). If you want to sugar-coat the candied items, a cooling rack and a sheet pan are very useful.

*However, if you walk away from a 3qt pot with ~1.5qt of sugar syrup and peel in it, and come back to find your stove covered in said syrup, you'll have the experience that the Amazing Girlfriend and I had a few months back. It was lame.

#10 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2011, 07:40 PM:

Abi, your post immediately led me to recall this:

I had a little nut tree
Nothing would it bear
But a silver nutmeg and a golden pear

The King of Spain's daughter
Came to visit me
And all for the sake of my little nut tree

#11 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2011, 07:42 PM:

I bought some spicy/hot apple chutney from the RenFaire last week, because I tasted it and immediately thought, "This would be a fabulous dipping sauce for roasted chicken!" And so it was -- even better than the mango/ginger/habanero sauce that had been my previous favorite.

WARNING: When using a hot sauce for dipping leftover roast chicken that's being re-heated in the microwave, DO NOT microwave the sauce on the chicken! It will turn into pure capsaicin. I made that mistake once, and believe me, that was all it took.

#12 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2011, 08:12 PM:

Those are Christmas pears. Unless your husband has the cold tolerance of a polar bear, his study is too warm by far to ripen them--if you store them in a cool place with fairly high humidity (like where you would store potatoes) they will be soft and sweet for Christmas.

But chutney is far more interesting.

In preserving adventures of the goat, I smoked 40 lbs of tomatoes a couple weekends ago in my super-redneck smoker (a rusty kitchen stove that sits in the yard, with a gas campstove in the broiler pan); it made 2 half-sheets of dried smoked tomatoes, which are an awesome ingredient. (With some roasted eggplant, you can make a pizza that is completely vegan and tastes like good bacon.)

#13 ::: AlyxL ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2011, 08:34 PM:

Do you know how old your pear tree is? Pear trees can continue to fruit for decades or even centuries, and may be older than the housse, if the houses were built on old orchard land. Like apples, there are hundreds of older pear varieties, all with different specific uses - it may be a cooking pear, or one bred for use in perry.

#14 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2011, 08:44 PM:

Ginger of the Fluorosphere is not woody.

If she's not Woody, does that mean she's Buzz?

#15 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2011, 09:05 PM:

San Marzanos (and Romas) are also good in salads. More tomato, less seeds and juice.

#16 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2011, 09:07 PM:

Pears are one fruit that has to be picked before ripening. You can put one or two in a paper bag to speed up the process. (I suspect quince requires similar treatment, but I've never had a quince tree to experiment with.)

#17 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2011, 11:19 PM:

I have a fuyu persimmon tree in my back yard. Every other year I get a stupendous harvest: this is such a year. I have a huge number of persimmons which are ripening fast. The birds will get many of them, and some will rot on the bough because I can't reach them. But I will pick many, many. I usually eat them like apples, raw; they are wonderful in salads. I prefer them peeled, but it isn't necessary to peel them. I have never eaten them cooked: has anyone? If you have, can you share a recipe? Simple is best, as my tolerance for complex recipes is, well, non-existent.

#18 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2011, 12:46 AM:

The problem with refrigerating pears until they are ripe is that these are big pears and we need someplace in the fridge to wedge in the odd container of milk and bit of cheese.

I could try putting some in the garden shed, but then we're heavily dependent on getting cold weather.

Basically, I think these are cooking pears.

#19 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2011, 01:45 AM:

Bill @5:

I linked to the recipe I used in the blog post, the first time I mentioned it.

Xopher @6:

Indeed, my metric for "is this ginger done?" was "is it no longer woody?". I saw it as as much of an exercise in de-woodifying the stuff as in sweetening it. (Not that you need to do either to make chutney. It was just a sidetrack. A tasty, tasty sidetrack.)

#20 ::: grackle ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2011, 02:13 AM:

Looks like a respectable chutney recipe. I don't understand the part where you leave the delicious liquid out of the jars- if cooked the right amount of time it thickens and when put in the jars, is reabsorbed by the pears/congeals a bit and is a lovely binder to the chutney.
We got this bug this year ourselves here in grackleland and when all was said and done 49 half pints of various chutneys were on the counter: pear, ancho chili ginger, italian prune, and pear tomatillo among them. Varieties of yum!

#21 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2011, 03:49 AM:

grackle @20:

I don't leave all the liquid out; I just don't put it all in. I was concerned that I'd end up with too much spice in the jars. What I found in my trial batches is that that leads to an unpleasant powdery texture to the chutney.

So what dripped out of the pierced spoon when I lifted the chutney out stayed behind. It's still plenty thick and flavorful inside those jars.

#22 ::: Jen Birren ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2011, 08:04 AM:

Delicious spicy liquid left over- do pickled pears for eating soon? (Peel, halve/quarter and core pears, dilute spicy liqor with more vinegar (or wine) and sugar if wished, and/or add a few more sweet spices to vary the taste a bit, cook till tender- you could probably preserve some of these as well if you wanted, but looking up sugar levels would be a good plan in that case.)

Or use it as a glaze for meat or roasted vegetables? (Add just a few minutes before pulling them out of the oven so it doesn't burn, I guess.)

#23 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2011, 08:22 AM:

The obvious comment:

I have made chutney out of
the pears
that were in
the study

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so astringent
and so gingery

#24 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2011, 09:16 AM:

Paul A @ 14... I thought Ginger would be Jessie the Yodeling Cow-girl.

#25 ::: Joris M ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2011, 09:30 AM:

Sounds like a nice Chutney, and I'll have to try and make candied ginger myself. It is a bit strange you could not find canning jars with screw lids here. This year they were everywhere for some reason e.g. here.

#26 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2011, 09:35 AM:

Lizzy L @17

Here in Indiana, people rave about persimmon pudding. Their obsession may be of assistance to you:

#27 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2011, 10:51 AM:

Abi, depending on how thick the leftover chutney liquid is, I'd reduce it on a low simmer to produce a spiced fruit syrup for use on pancakes.

I've gotten to the point where I only use homemade cinnamon syrup on my pancakes. It started out as a "phooey, I'm out of syrup" stopgap measure. (Normally, I prefer butter and jam or peanut butter and jelly on my pancakes.) Now cinnamon syrup is SOP for when I want syrup.

cinnamon syrup
1/4 c water,
3/4 c packed brown sugar
1 tbsp corn syrup(optional)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

combine and cook over a medium heat until it starts to boil. Remove from heat and let cool. (typically, I use a glass measuring pitcher and microwave it on 80% until it starts to boil up the sides (2-6 minutes depending on model)) Store unused portion in a lidded jar. It will keep for 6 months or more. Not that it lasts that long. (the corn syrup prevents recrystallization.)

I'm pretty sure this is could be canned.

#28 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2011, 10:52 AM:

Mmmm. (Looks at room left in upper cabinet where I keep the home canned goods and ponders. Do I NEED some chutney up there??)

Here's a very simple bread and butter pickle that will take you practically no time or fuss at all. I was gifted an English cucumber (ridgy and not really peel-able) and it worked just fine.

Microwave Bread and Butter Pickles

1 large cucumber -- thinly sliced
1 medium onion -- thinly sliced
1 cup sugar or Splenda (granular)
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt

In a microwave-safe 2-quart bowl, combine all ingredients; mix well. Microwave uncovered at 80% power for 5 minutes, stirring halfway through, or 6 minutes at Medium High (75%). Cover and chill at least two hours before serving. (Cook longer if you like them less crunchy.)

#29 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2011, 10:54 AM:

Oh, and I am well acquainted with that little voice. Last night it said "You know those two paper globe lampshades you were going to give to Goodwill? Why not paint ghostie faces on them and hang them on the tree out front?" And the next thing I knew it was after 9:00.

#30 ::: David Langford ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2011, 12:21 PM:

My little voice didn't mention pears this year but was quite insistent about quince jam. We made 42 jars, a good science-fictional number. For the last batch, just as an experiment, we threw in a lot of powdered ginger. But is it immoral to sample the 2011 innovation when we still have substantial reserves left over from 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010?

#31 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2011, 12:25 PM:

Lizzy L, I had some (American, wild) persimmons on hand that were kind of bland, so I used some to make persimmon corn bread. Mash raw persimmons, remove seeds (the skins were soft enough to be mashed/shredded and included) and add to packaged corn bread mix BEFORE adding the milk called for in the recipe; add the milk a little at a time to get the right texture (it will be a bit less than called for because the persimmons add moisture). Bake as usual. Expect darker colored bread than you're used to.

Turned out pretty yummy with about 1/4 cup of persimmon pulp. I think it would have been better with more.

#32 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2011, 01:37 PM:

On the topic of little voices, I've had to resort to telling 'em to shut up or "deal with my just writing it down" as I've insufficient resources for multiple large vehicular projects, which is what my little voices want me to work on...

On the (slightly) related (to the food part of the post, at least) topic of "growing edibles that will go to waste if I don't do something with them" what are some Fluorospheric recommendations for a fistful or so of mint? I would guess I can get maybe a cup or so of picked, washed mint leaves from the small pot in the sun out back. The frost will get them in a few days/weeks, otherwise.

All I can think of is mint simple syrup, do the final boiling-down in a canning jar, and pop the lid on before it cools off so it'll keep in the cabinet until it is iced-tea season again.

Trouble is, I'm the only person in the house who likes mint tea, and I wouldn't mind a few other suggestions that might be more widely palatable. Any ideas out there?

#33 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2011, 02:15 PM:

The little voices I hear don't speak English, usually. The mutter at me in the moonless night.

#34 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2011, 02:35 PM:

cajunfj40@32, mint jelly? Good on lamb, of course, but also thumbprint cookies and the like. It's been so long since I've made any, but I believe it doesn't take more than a handful because you start out by making an infusion.

It's almost sounding like we need a round robin Flurospherian home-canned-goods exchange...

#35 ::: cdthomas ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2011, 03:45 PM:

... and may I smack David Leibowitz for snarkily saying "the thermometer tells the truth" if it reads boiling water as 212 degrees F. -- without at least providing a link for those cooks at higher altitude?

It's that sort of non-help that *does* scare cooks away from making candy....

#36 ::: JM ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2011, 04:36 PM:

Sarah @26: Ooh! I'm a recent transplant to Indiana from Wisconsin, and my husband and I have been lamenting the apparent lack of regional delicacies. (We miss cheese curds, New Glarus beer, and Usinger's summer sausage.) Persimmon pudding intrigues me!

#37 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2011, 04:39 PM:

cdthomas @ 35 : Only if I can do the same for his ice cream base recipe... which included precious little useful instruction on how to make a good custard. His recipes are usually great, but detailed information would be nice too.

#38 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2011, 05:07 PM:

Serge @3: and this Ginger is not late.

Xopher HalfTongue @6, Paul A @14: Aye, I'm not Woody or woody, but I did have a cat named Buzz. I am quite fresh, or so my FG tells me.

Now I must go try that Microwaveable Bread and Butter pickles. Oh, for anyone interested in pickling mushrooms, I stumbled upon a nice little mix of spices this summer. I washed and quartered my fresh mushrooms, put them into a quart container with white vinegar, added "some" dill, about three pinches; added 4-5 cloves of garlic, lightly smooshed; added say three pinches of paprika, maybe more, and let it sit. Those mushrooms were TASTY.

#39 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2011, 05:22 PM:

abi @0: naalbinding

::googles:: ("Hm. I have yarn....") Thank you, abi. I already have two sculpures*,** and a portrait on my back. I'd like to get some sleep this year...?


* I've recently discovered the joys of paper mache. Especially when you're liberal with the "mache" and not fussy about the "paper."

** I've discovered that watching paint dry is really quite fascinating. Especially if it dries to clear.

#40 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2011, 06:16 PM:

Oooh, Ginger, pickled mushrooms -- I've got an easy recipe for those, too, and I may have to try it with fresh ones now and add some dill and paprika:

Pickled Mushrooms

12 ounces canned button mushrooms -- drained
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
2 green onions -- thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons parsley
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Use caps or whole button mushrooms. Combine all but mushrooms in saucepan and bring to boil. Add mushrooms and simmer 5 minutes. Refrigerate up to three weeks. Bring to room temperature before serving. Serve as an appetizer or in salads.

#41 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2011, 06:18 PM:

Lizzy L.: Evil Rob likes to make persimmon salsa. Heck, he likes to make salsa out of just about any fruit. It's usually a pretty straight-across substitution of fruit for tomato in any salsa recipe, though you can get a good feel for which additives will work well.

#42 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2011, 07:03 PM:

Langford #30:

Not immoral at all. Consider tasting flights, with appropriate cheeses.

#43 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2011, 07:06 PM:

Mention of mangoes requires me to relate that I pick up some pineapple spears from the grocery each week, for breakfast. This week I was disgusted to find that I'd grabbed mango spears by accident. (Light was less than optimal, what can I say?) Mangoes require some kind of buffer, or I'm not happy. (There weren't anywhere near enough for jam, chutney, salsa, or any of that.)

#44 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2011, 10:02 PM:

Corn bread, pudding, salsa -- thanks!

I also did some googling and found what appears to be a delicious chicken with persimmons recipe. I think I'll try it.

#45 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2011, 10:02 PM:

I wouldn't worry about the frost getting the mint. It will go dormant for the winter, anyway, and it comes back in the spring.

Drying mint works too.

#46 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2011, 10:05 PM:

Persimmon cookies are also not unknown. They tend to be a bit sticky, but tasty.

#47 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2011, 02:23 AM:

Abi@19 - I'm sorry - I got distracted by the footnote and didn't notice that there was also a link. Thanks! A neighbor and I used to have a shared pear tree, which mainly produced small green rocks, but also some green rocks with overripe spots - I hadn't realized they might have been cookable, and we mainly viewed them as a shared clean-up chore that looked nice when it flowered.

cajunfj40 - What I think of doing with mint, other than tea or julep, is tabbouleh. I grew up with my mother's version of it, which is more like the Greek or hippie variety that's mostly bulgar wheat, onions, and tomatoes, but a Lebanese friend insists that the authentic version is mostly parsley and mint, with less than half wheat.

I don't know much about Fuyu persimmons; my wife prefers the Hachiya kind, which are the pointy ones that need to be overripe and mushy before they're edible. (Apparently freezing them can hasten this process, as well as preserving them, so you don't have to eat them all the same week.) There are a couple of mature persimmon tree down the street from me, and they seem to produce far more fruit in a year than a garden-full of zucchini.

#48 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2011, 02:29 AM:

Hmmmm... I have some nasty little pears, either a bad attempt at Seckel or a random seedling, that are never sweet (I also have four ancient Bartletts and a Ros Boll which are quite the opposite, lovely things although Bartletts are the only proper pear). Perhaps I should go pick some of them up and make an attempt at chutney, after I get my salsa verde done (my sister planted tomatillos once, long ago, that's the only time she's needed to plant them to keep us all in green salsa forever) and the quince and bulgarian pepper jelly, and the dried cranberry, onion, and Jalapeno relish.

After, that is, I finish all the stupid chicken coops.

#49 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2011, 08:25 AM:

Jacque @#39: For naalbinding you want a yarn that's pure wool, and preferably only one strand. Otherwise the joining gets really tedious.

#50 ::: Sundre ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2011, 09:11 AM:

I know that voice! It's the one that had me carry twelve pounds of plums home on the bus this weekend. (Very awkward.) They are destined to be made into plum-ginger jam. I'm also considering a grapefruit jelly spiked with vanilla and bourbon.

#51 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2011, 10:48 PM:

Your Lebanese friend may well be right - that's the kind of tabbouleh that a long-gone local restaurant served. I preferred something with more bulgur, as that much parsley is, to me, not as tasty.

#52 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2011, 10:55 PM:

One wonders what would have resulted if the voices in your head had said "nativity", and would the resulting pears be on etsy.

#53 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2011, 11:07 PM:

#47, #51: After being Corrected online about the True Nature of Tabouli, I gave it a try.

Minced up a whole bunch of parsley to mix in with a box of the bulgar-wheat-heavy mix. Put in more lemon and olive oil than is probably traditional.

The result is very zippy and palette-cleansing. I've brought it to several picnics and such and it tends to disappear quickly. (Maybe into a potted plant?)

#54 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2011, 06:37 AM:

One question raised by the thread is what is the optimal amount of time so that the little voice gets creative but not TOO creative...

#55 ::: jennythereader ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2011, 12:14 PM:

Oooh - I wish I could give this recipe to myself about 3 weeks ago, when I had about a dozen hard and unappetizing pears from the farm share.

Instead, my little voice had me making absurd quantities of applesauce, so I added them to that.

#56 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2011, 11:57 PM:

David Langford #30:
You could always do a vertical tasting. They are quite fashionable in wine circles; so why not chutney?

Me, I've just heeded the voice that whispered, "orange syrup cake".

#57 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2011, 11:58 PM:

Or quince jam?

#58 ::: Phiala ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2011, 01:20 PM:

There are joins for naalbinding that work just fine with other yarns. The traditional spit-join is perfect with wool singles, but the Russian join (no idea if it's actually Russian) is effectively a simple needle splice, and will work with anything.

My version of the little voice leads mostly to the acquisition of raw materials and the construction of elaborate plans. Not so much the construction of actual things.

#59 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2011, 03:41 PM:

Phiala @58

I have also recently become enamored of the braided join; I sometimes have trouble getting the Russian join to hold together. (here's a video.)

#60 ::: Dave Howell ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2011, 04:42 PM:

"20 minutes, which was certainly more than they needed to seal."

Indeed. If you were putting hot chutney in the jars, they probably wouldn't need to be immersed for more than 15 seconds in order to seal. The boiling water bath is for purposes of pasteurizing the contents. The phenomenon of having the air inside the container shrinking as it cools and sealing the jar is a nice side-effect. The fact that you're canning already-boiling chutney means all you need to do is sterilize the centimeter or so of air at the top of the jar. 20 minutes ought to be plenty of time to bring whatever snuck in during filling up to temp.

#61 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2011, 07:13 PM:

My little voice keeps saying "Buy more fabric! Ooooo, what pretty fur--surely you need some of that!"

Which is why my sewing room has so much Stuff in it.

The little voice keeps suggesting new quilts and stuffed animals faster than I can make them, too. I've been at least two years behind on craft projects since 1996, and I'm losing ground rapidly.

#62 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2011, 07:24 PM:

I'm picturing a nubbley red-orange bear with unmatched eyes, named Chutney. Why do you suppose that is?

#63 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2011, 07:30 PM:

Xopher (62): Aargh!

It sounds very cute. I'm not going to make one.

...Nope. Nope. Not gonna.

::sigh:: I think that's going on the list. (You enabler, you!)


#64 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2011, 07:39 PM:

Maybe I need to make stuffed animals. I have way more good names than I have animals to give them to, and I don't want to take up raising mice.

(e.g. Winstead, for a beagle or a basset hound. This is an obscure Spike Jones reference.)

I recently discovered that the large stuffed pig I made for my nephew is still around. He works for the State Department now. The nephew, not the pig.

#65 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2011, 07:49 PM:

I'm so evoll.

*laughs evolly*

#66 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2011, 08:13 PM:

Xopher HalfTongue

Pooh, we've known that since Denvention.

#67 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2011, 09:21 PM:

Saved by the fact that I don't have any nubbley red-orange fur!

And I'm not going looking for any, either.


(Of course, should I happen to stumble across some while looking for other things, that's a different matter.)

#68 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2011, 10:10 PM:

And if you go and just happen to ask about nubbley red-orange fur, that would count as finding it while looking for something else, right? As long as you have at least one other thing to look for.

#69 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2011, 12:11 AM:

I might actually buy some red-orange fabric paint and color the nubbley cream fur that I don't much like. ;)

#70 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2011, 02:22 AM:

I've been in the mood for Thai food recently, but we hardly ever go out, and the closest Thai restaurant has its logo in Papyrus.

(I like to think this is the sort of place where I can bring up that last objection and have some people understand.)

So I thought that I might cook some of my own. I found a recipe for basil chicken on It called for several sauces that I didn't have in my kitchen, but I thought that the Central Market might stock Golden Mountain sauce -- and it did. My trusty iron skillet (a wedding present from tyg) stood in for a wok, and worked just fine. It came out just as tasty as I might have wished, except that the Fresno peppers I tried (CM didn't have any Thai peppers on hand) weren't nearly hot enough. Some pepper flakes helped there.

I now have enough fish sauce and Golden Mountain sauce for about a hundred such dishes, so I may well be doing more of this soon.

#71 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2011, 11:18 AM:

Phiala @58: My version of the little voice leads mostly to the acquisition of raw materials and the construction of elaborate plans. Not so much the construction of actual things.

Good thing you (far as I know) don't live in Boulder. McGuckin Hardware is very dangerous that way. Last time I was in there (frex), I discovered they now carry quarter-inch ball chain, plus connectors. No earthly use for it, but it's soooo cool!

#72 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2011, 11:27 AM:

Mary Aileen @61: The little voice keeps suggesting new quilts and stuffed animals faster than I can make them, too.

I have this theory that Ideas are living entities that inhabit the next 'brane over. For whatever reason, their greatest desire is to instantiate into this plane of existence. The only way for them to do that is to inhabit a creative mind, and induce it to bring them into being.

Trouble is, when one of them discoveres such a mind, all the nearby entities spot the opening, too, and this results in a rush on the door, sort of like the stampede when they open the department store doors on the morning after Thanksgiving.

I've been at least two years behind on craft projects since 1996, and I'm losing ground rapidly.

This is the best argument, to my mind, for reincarnation. How the hell else do you get around to everything? (It's been clear for a long time that I'm not going to get to either math or music, this lifetime.)

Susan Crites contends that Purgatory is where you go to finish all the projects you started during this lifetime.

#73 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2011, 11:52 AM:

Jacque (72): Further evidence for the idea stampede: I'm most apt to come up with new ideas while I'm sewing.

I'll need reincarnation just to use up the fabric I already have, never mind using up the ideas.
Test-painting swatches of nubbley cream fur tonight. Darn you, Xopher!

#74 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2011, 12:03 PM:

David Goldfarb @ 70

May I most strongly recommend Tigers and Strawberries, which has detailed recipes and techniques for Thai food (as well as Indian and Chinese food).

#75 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2011, 12:09 PM:

David Goldfarb @ 70

May I most strongly recommend Tigers and Strawberries, which has detailed recipes and techniques for Thai food (as well as Indian and Chinese food).

#76 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2011, 03:04 PM:

Mary Aileen 73: Test-painting swatches of nubbley cream fur tonight. Darn you, Xopher!

BWAH-HAH-HAH, I have an evil laugh. I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to...except I kinda did.

And as for "Darn you, Xopher!" ...don't you have to have a knitted Xopher before you can darn one? (I trust a knitted Xopher is too large a project to even contemplate, and thus safe to mention.)

#77 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2011, 03:39 PM:

Xopher (76): At least this will be a use for that cream fur that I don't like, assuming the painting works. And I needed to test-paint swatches of *something* to make sure another of my looming Ideas will work.

<confused> You're not knitted? </confused>

#78 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2011, 05:09 PM:

I've seen Xopher knit his brows...

#79 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2011, 05:44 PM:

My bones have knit(ted?) after breaking, too.

#80 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2011, 05:49 PM:

SamChevre: Looks like an interesting site; thanks for the recommendation.

#81 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2011, 07:08 PM:

Xopher @ #76, not true. An amigurumi chibi-Xopher could be quite reasonably sized.


#82 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2011, 09:10 PM:

Fortunately, I don't knit, and thus am safe from wanting to knit a Xopher, of whatever size or type.

(Xopher, you do know I'm not really angry with you, right?)

#83 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2011, 09:41 PM:

Mary Eileen, yes, I figured. "Darn you" isn't something people say when they're seriously angry, at least not here.

#84 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2011, 10:16 PM:

Hmmmmm. Painting fur fabric seems to make it stiff. The books didn't mention that aspect. Brushing might help. I'll give it the 72 hours until the paint's all the way dry and try that.

On the plus side, this may mean I can cross another project* off my to-do list. Unfortunately, it's one that's dear to my heart. (not Chutney, something else)

#85 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2011, 10:38 PM:

Mary Aileen (arggh, misspelled your name last time!), at the risk of incurring your wrath again, three words (or two depending how you count): fabric-reactive dye.

#86 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2011, 10:38 PM:

Mary Aileen (arggh, misspelled your name last time!), at the risk of incurring your wrath again, three words (or two depending how you count): fabric-reactive dye.

#87 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2011, 10:48 PM:

I did NOT post that twice. I swear!

#88 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2011, 10:51 PM:

Xopher (85): I've wondered about that. I have leads on fabric paints that are supposed to be good on acrylic (which is usually what fur fabric is, I think), but I'm not at all sure about painting with dye.

I'd like to make a green tabby cat, but the stripes are a problem. I'm not ready to think about piecing two different greens together to make the stripes; that would be an awful lot of work. Painting darker stripes on light green fabric would be much simpler, although finding the right color paint isn't easy. (I'd also like to make a Mabob* some day, but that probably would involve piecing together different greens.)

*from Mirabile

#89 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2011, 01:22 AM:

Mary Aileen - Just in case you are not already aware, Dharma Trading Co is the place to go for advice on what to use to color fabric (and, coincidentally, the place to obtain it as well).

#90 ::: Dave Howell ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2011, 07:12 AM:

Xopher@85: "Dye" was my first thought, too, but MA is right. Faux fur is acrylic, and thus un-dye-able. Even paint is rather iffy unless one uses a paint formulated to bond with plastic. I did find this: which seemed like a very well-thought-out scheme for 'dyeing' faux fur.

The best bet for painting on acrylic is usually acrylic paint. If I were going to try to paint faux fur, I would get Golden acrylic paint, their GAC 900 medium/additive, and apply the paint with my airbrush. The GAC900 can be heat-set for increased permanence.

#91 ::: Dave Howell ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2011, 07:22 AM:

MA@88: "Finding the right color paint..." Again, I recommend taking advantage of the paint wizards at Golden. One starts with their very comprehensive line of basic paints, to which one can add all kinds of interesting additives and whatnot to make their 'ordinary' paint function like other specialty paints. Their acrylic 'faux finishing' glaze, for example, which I used recently. My "how to paint faux finishes" book told me that if I wanted to do a colorwash, I would have to have an oil-based glaze*, because an acrylic (water-based) glaze's open time was too short. The Behr-brand glaze that a friend gave me had an open time of maybe 3 minutes. Even with three people applying glaze simultaneously, we couldn't get a smooth colorwash.

The Golden acrylic glaze has an open time of nearly 30 minutes. I laid down a wall of colorwash with the Golden glaze that came out absolutely beautifully, and I did it *single-handedly.* (Well, I used both hands, but it was just the one pair.)

*Oil-based paints aren't oil-based any more, and latex paint doesn't have any latex. They're actually alkyds and acrylic/synthetic, but the old names have hung around.

#92 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2011, 08:57 AM:

I didn't know that about acrylic. I confess I had initially pictured a nubbley fabric, rather than faux fur, for the Chutney bear.

#93 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2011, 11:23 AM:

shadowsong (89): Thanks. Dharma Trading has a list of paints/dyes to use on synthetics, which I've been scrutinizing.

Dave Howell (90): The teddy bear techniques books all say to use acrylic paint on fur fabric.

Dave again (91): Thanks for the recommendation on Golden paint.

Xopher (92): Could you give some examples of nubbley fabrics? Terry-cloth, maybe? Because I'm obviously not picturing the right thing. I was thinking of something like sheep shag, which I have in cream and red, but doesn't seem to come in red-orange. (Yes, I looked. ::sigh::)
The other problem with painting fur is that the color only goes on the top. If you ruffle up the pile, the underside is still the original color. So I'm not sure painting will give the right effect anyway. I'll keep experimenting.

#94 ::: Dave Howell ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2011, 12:55 PM:

MA@93: The link I found involves pouring the paint on the *back* of the fur and flooding it with water, I think specifically to ensure that the fur is painted from root to tip. That's also why I would use an airbrush to apply the paint: sweeping back and forth over the fur would allow me to blow the paint all through the fur in order to tint the entire length of it. Or so I would expect . . .

#95 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2011, 12:56 PM:

Mary Aileen, re color going only on top: that could be made to be a feature, rather than a bug. My brown tabby cat has fur that is quite dark at the hair tips, but buff-colored closer to the skin; so when you ruffle her fur you get that same effect.

#96 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2011, 01:49 PM:

Lila (95): Thanks. Something to keep in mind.

Dave Howell (94): Any solution that requires me to buy and learn to use an airbrush is probably not happening. :)

#97 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2011, 03:02 PM:

Mary Aileen @93: Could you give some examples of nubbley fabrics? Terry-cloth, maybe?

Oh dear. Now, in addition to our knitted Xopher, I'm visualizing a Karney-towel.

#98 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2011, 03:16 PM:

Jacque (97): I'm visualizing a Karney-towel.

Go for it!

#99 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2011, 04:42 PM:

Mary Aileen: Chenille, maybe?

Other chenilles.

#100 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2011, 04:47 PM:

Xopher (99): Chenille! That sounds good. It's even soft. And I bet it's a whole heck of a lot cheaper than the red/orange bubble fur I've been drooling over eyeing.

I'm heading to the fabric store this weekend anyway...

#101 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2011, 09:09 PM:

Chenille. Every time I hear/see that word, my mind goes back to the thrilling days of yesteryear (well, okay, late 60s/early 70s), when I was but a wee tyke (well, okay, not all that wee). My mom's favorite, nay, only, radio station was KMPC 710 AM. Morning drive-time deejay, the inimitable Dick Whittinghill. Afternoon drive-time deejay, the inexplicable Gary Owens (who was also the announcer for Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In).

Gary had this...thing...he called a nurny. I don't recall that it was ever defined, but it had its own song ("The Nurny Song") and its own creed ("The Nurny Creed"), the latter included in Gary's 1972 album, Put Your Head on My Finger. And contained in the Nurny Creed were these immortal words:

A nurny is to beauty and grace what pink plastic hair curlers are to a supermarket shopper in an egg-stained chenille bathrobe.

I am now envisioning a chenille Xopher sans egg stains. I think it could be kind of cute. :)

HLN: "Ye ghods," area woman says to self, "the things I have rattling around in my head."

#102 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2011, 07:09 PM:

Persimmons. There was a vast display of fresh ones at the Korean market, which sent me searching for a recipe for persimmon punch (soo jeung ga) that uses fresh rather than dried persimmons. No luck. I'll just have to make pudding, or try drying these.

Mary Aileen, if you aren't working with a huge piece of fake fur, you could try felt tip pens. Long years ago I saw a George Barr fake fur and felt tip piece in an art show that looked like a white tiger skin, with stripes in gray and aqua ... and six legs.

#103 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2011, 07:26 PM:

Tracie (102): That's an interesting idea. I recently saw some "paint pens" in Michael's, but the choices were oil or watercolor, no acrylic. I'm not sure how permanent felt tip would be, but it would be easy enough to experiment. The cat pattern I'm planning to use is about 12" tall; it would be roughly a quarter yard of fabric, maybe a little less.

#104 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2011, 12:08 PM:

Tracie & Mary Aileen: You people are being a Bad Influence. Just sayin'

#105 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2011, 03:22 PM:

Jacque (104): There's a lot of that going around. ;)

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