Sunday, October 12, 2008

....still in the midst of harvest frenzy

The harvest frenzy hasn't stopped yet. The acorns are ripening and falling off the trees simultaneously, depending on the species. I've been picking them up from the sand in the washes almost every trip I've been on up in the the mountains and there are still more to be had, and more I want.
Each species of oak has its own flavor, and I've really come to love the flavor of the sweet Bellota Oak (quercus emoryii) that gives acorns in late summer (July/August). I was remiss in collecting many of those this year, as I was away in New Mexico at the Anima center during the bellota season. But I've been collecting the acorns from what I believe to be a blue oak (quercus oblongifolia) and an arizona white oak (querqus arizonica)(As best I can tell without a plant key!) Which are also sweet and delicious, but are better when roasted. I can eat the bellota acorns straight from the shells off the trees, they are so sweet. I spent the morning shelling the latest batch of acorns I've collected and roasted.
Then I made apple pie with an acorn and almond meal crust, local organic apples, and local pecans on top in a struesel topping made with brown rice flour.
Iused probably half a cup each of ground toasted almonds and ground roasted acorns, and a handful of brown rice flour, plus 1/2 stick of butter and tablespoon or two of cold water. Pressed the dough into the pan and baked for 15 min, before I filled it with sliced apples, cinnamon, clove, sugar and butter. The topping was freshly cracked pecans, brown rice flour, butter and sugar.

Served with handwhipped cream with vanilla powder, it was truly a fall treat. Nothing says fall like pie and squash! I settled for pie!
The marigold I've been after all summer has finally started to bloom in full force ( see the picture above), and I've been gathering loads of flowering fronds for tea, and clipped some flowers for a rich, fragrant healing oil.
I've written before about my preferences for making fresh plant oils, and I've found that if I cover the jar with a paper towel instead of a lid, most of the water from fresh plants evaporates out of the oil naturally. But I have a strange hankering to experiment with my oil prep. I'm steeping two jars of fresh marigold flowers in sesame oil, and have a pile of freshly dried flowers, which I'm going to do the alcohol fogging method with, but instead of steeping the fogged flowers in fresh oil, I'm going to steep them in one of the jars of strained fresh marigold oil, essentially making a double infused oil, with both fresh and dry flowers. It sounds like an interesting way to get more out of the plant. I'll be comparing the oils (fresh flower alone and fresh and dry flower mix) over the winter, and will write about the results and differences!

Along with the marigold, the wild grapes are still covered in fruits, and I visited a vine that I've been waiting on to ripen for several weeks now. It was fully ripe last weekend so I spent a brief hour collecting wild grapes, and filled a large bowl. With the help of a friend's herb press, I pressed out two quarts of fresh grape juice! I'll be experimenting with making wild grape wine for the holiday season with this remarkable, potent juice!
Of course, never one to waste things, I've dehydrated all the pressed skins and seeds from the wild grapes and will be grinding them into a powder that can be added to smoothies, cooked grains, or even encapsulated as a natural antioxidant powder, full of resveratrol, grape seeds and wild mineral nutrition! Why waste a good thing??


Mon said...

The pie sounds gorgeous. I imagine the clove would add a real zing. I do enjoy cloves.

The marigolds look enticing.

Diane Kidman said...

I would love to try making that pie! I think I have to go traipse in my woods and do an acorn collection. Great blog! I'm going to add you to my Google reader.


"The mother of us all, the oldest of us all, Hard, splendid as rock, Let the beauty you love, be what you do. There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the earth"~ Rumi ~