Pickled Beans and Butter Pecan Apples
September 11, 2019
I was tempted to use last week’s report again this week. The rain is a bit of deja vu, although we were able to get some of the wheat crop in and binned. I’ve spent a few hours this last week out in the tractor hauling the grain cart between the combine and the semi parked at the end of whatever field we were working.
The first afternoon (Wednesday) of combining was done without my help. He was just going to “try” it, and the tractor I use needed some repairs. So he trundled the combine back and forth to the truck while I stayed home. A call to the tractor dealer revealed the repair wasn’t scheduled until Friday morning, so I was in the field all of Thursday. (The repairs were to the fan belt, which was slightly “off,” making it really loud, and to the air bag, which just meant my ride was choppy and rough. Anyway, not major repairs, so it didn’t hurt the tractor to run it without these repairs, I was told.)
Every harvest season I get a really quick lesson on what to do: this switch raises your auger. This one engages the power to it, make sure the throttle is off when you engage it. This button engages the power to the auger. Then run the throttle up to about 1200 rpms. This switch opens the gate to allow the wheat to go through the auger. This one swivels the end of the auger (to direct the flow of the grain out the end, in case I’m too close or too far away from the truck). Then do everything in reverse once the cart is empty. Of course, those aren’t the words he uses. I’m trying to explain this to non-farmers, so there’s a bit more detail than I get. I should know all this, having just done this job a full year ago!
The repairs to the tractor were completed by one o’clock Friday, so after having the morning off (ha!), and enjoying dinner prepared by Mom, I was back to being the grain cart operator. I enjoyed the quieter, smoother ride. Saturday was more of the same, trying to get as much done as we could before the rains returned. Now the combine, grain cart, and semi will sit idle until it dries enough to resume harvesting. That could be a couple of weeks. Farmers around here are going to be a bit owl-y for a while, so speak gently to them. (We gardeners will be the same. It’s not much fun trying to garden in the chilly damp and mud.)
That first afternoon of harvest, I grabbed a few large tomatoes, a couple lemon cucumbers, a couple gypsy peppers (they’re a pale lemon yellow, and sweet), and herbs from the garden to make a salad for my lunches in the field. The cukes were peeled (for some reason, lemon cukes have more prickly rough spots on their skins), deseeded, and roughly chopped. The cucumber chunks went into a colander and were sprinkled with freshly grated Himalayan sea salt to draw out the excess wetness. While those sat and drained, I prepped the rest. The tomatoes had the stem ends cut out and an “X” was sliced barely through the skin on the blossom end, then they were dipped in boiling water to loosen the skins. Once peeled, the tomatoes were roughly chopped. A couple small shallots were diced, the peppers were seeded and chopped, and added to the tomatoes. I roughly chopped several basil leaves, and stripped the small leaves from a couple sprigs of marjoram and oregano. A handful of Kalamata olives were chopped, about 10 capers, and crumbled feta were added. By then the cukes were ready, so in they went. The dressing was a combo of the vinegar mix leftover from pickling the last of my yellow beans, plus olive oil and some freshly grated pepper. I figured the cukes were salty enough that I needn’t add any.
I’d pickled the last of the yellow beans that morning. There were enough to make three pints. The recipe is a slight variation of dilly beans, but a bit sweeter with the addition of pickling spice. The first time I made them I was doing too many things at once so the addition of that spice was a delicious “oops” moment. I’d used it in place of the red pepper flakes, which is why I list that as optional.
2 1/2 C white vinegar
2 C water
1/4 C salt
1 clove garlic
1 Tbl pickling spice
3/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
2 1/2 lbs. fresh beans
1 bunch fresh dill
Mix the first six ingredients together in a pot and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve salt. Put a sprig or two of dill into each jar. Pack beans into the jars. Pour the boiling liquid over the beans, leaving 1/2” headspace. Seal. Use hot water bath for 10 minutes. Remove jars and let cool.
On Friday morning I got to stay home again, while the repairs were made. I combined three recipes to make an excellent, really rich dessert. It’s just for me as I know Dennis won’t even try it. It contains pecans and raisins and dried citrus and other oddball ingredients he’s pretty sure he won’t like. Anyway, I made the almond flour shortbread base from the Mock Twix Bars (shared two weeks ago), and topped it with a jar of the Mock Mincemeat pie filling (also shared two weeks ago). That was topped with the butter/pecan topping from my Whole Life Challenge approved recipe I’m sharing now. You could use a can of apple pie filling if you aren’t into mincemeat.
Butter Pecan Apples
3 apples peeled, cored, sliced thin
2 Tbl butter
2 Tbl butter, cold
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 C pecans
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
In a medium skillet, melt 2 Tbl butter over medium heat until foamy. Add apples and saute until golden brown. Pour into a baking dish. Meanwhile, pulse cold butter, pecans, and spices until crumbly. Sprinkle over apples. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes.
I baked my dessert for only 10 minutes to set the topping. The base was already baked and the filing only needed warming. It did need to be cooled and refrigerated to keep the shortbread base set. I took the first piece while it was still warm (impatience is not a good trait), and the base fell apart. While it still treated great, it wasn’t pretty. Chilled, it looks better and still tastes great. I am partial to mincemeat, so I know that I’ll make and enjoy this combo again in between WLC challenges. (The next challenge starts on the 28th of this month. I’m sure I’ve mentioned that before, and probably will again. Knowing there’s another coming up helps me from going completely nuts with eating all the non-compliant foods.)
My other go-to snacks in the field are celery sticks with nut butter, cherry tomatoes, raw peppers, carrots (alone or with tzatziki sauce), mixed nuts, granola bars, and sometimes scrubbed raw potatoes. I never starve as long as I have time to pack my lunch cooler.
The Glasgow Courier incorrectly identified a picture in last week’s column. The picture labeled bug photobomb on a zinnia was actually a photo of a Dahlia.