A busy end to the Christmas weekend. A nearby orchard remains open until December 31 each year, and we're always regular customers right up to the end. Haralson and Keepsake are my favorite late season varieties, and we keep a bag in the garage as long as we can. We all drove over early this afternoon and bought another 60 lbs for a second batch of applesauce. Four varieties remained in the storeroom and we took equally from all of them.
The kitchen was filled with steaming pots all afternoon and into the evening. My oldest wanted to peel apples and mash them with an immersion blender instead of straining them through the chinois. So, we went our separate ways and we'll have a taste-off tomorrow. Her sauce is pale straw and fine; the texture is silky and soft. Mine is usually fresh pink, but today even darker because I let the cooked apples sit in the pot a little longer than usual; when we passed them through the chinois, the color was rosier than our batch a month or two back.
The kitchen was a mess with pots and pans and everyone was hungry for dinner. Meaqhen suggested Croque Monsieur, and I said "What?" I love food and I love that a classic sandwich like this was completely unknown to me before this evening. Now, I grew up with hot ham and cheese sandwiches, wrapped in foil and heated in the oven, but my wife has been eating Croque Monsieur since she was a student in Montreal. Croque Monsieur is a hot ham and cheese sandwich with a name and a sauce.
I cut thin slices of fresh bread and generous slices of our Christmas ham. A little mustard and grated cheese came next: sharp cheddar for the kids and Jarlsberg for the adults. We put the sandwiches, buttered on the outside, in a hot oven oven. I made a béchamel sauce (butter, flour, milk) and added Weber's mustard (a Buffalo, NY horseradish mustard) and almost a cup of cubed Jarlsberg, turning it into a mornay sauce. After the bread crisped up a bit I spooned the mornay sauce on top and put the sandwiches under the broiler until they bubbled and browned. I drank a porter from Bell's Brewery (Kalamazoo, MI) with the sandwich and now have a new favorite ham sandwich.
We'll bring this last batch of applesauce into the basement tomorrow - 12 quarts and 12 pints - and we'll pop the lids one by one as winter wears on. I'm glad we can; it lets us take advantage of an abundance of fruit at a reasonable price ($.40/pound.) And, tomorrow is our applesauce taste-off; I can't imagine anyone losing!
birch and grasses alone on the snow, grey sky indistinguishable. the flat world falls into the edge of time, lifeless, dull wedge of horizon and soundless ...