Red corn, blue corn

Our friend Billy Allen, who has an organic farm here in Gainesville, hooked us up with some corn meal. He’s been experimenting with a lot of heirloom seeds, and he gave us some meal he ground from two batches of red and blue corn.  I tried to get a decent photo of the difference in color between the red and blue, but the picture doesn’t pick up the subtleties really well, although you can see a slight difference:

 

Red in front, blue i n back

 

I used a dairy-free recipe, the same one for each batch of red and blue corn muffins. Both turned out very tasty.

 

Red corn muffins

 

 

Same recipe but with blue corn meal

 

The recipe is fairly easy to remember; you mix 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour, 1 1/2 cups corn meal, 4 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt. Then you mix 1 1/2 cups almond milk, 1/2 cup honey, 1/2 cup oil, and 2 eggs. Whisk together and put in greased muffin tins and bake for 20 – 24 minutes in a preheated 375 degree oven. Stored in a plastic bag on the counter, the muffins  seem to become moister the second day.

Thanks again Billy, for the excellent gift of free food! I enjoy talking to Billy about his experiments with growing different seeds and his results. He always brings up his dad’s goals of being self-reliant and not letting nature’s bounty go to waste.  It’s a life well emulated! Many thanks to him, for letting us partake of some of the fruits of his labors! Also, he is willing to talk to other interested folks, if they will just make an appointment with him to go visit and take a little tour.

Another 20 lbs of Pears

We took Owen and Paula out to Billy Allen’s farm so they could see his set-up and because they are interested in what he’s doing with Velvet Beans, hailed as “green manure” in Central America.  None of us were disappointed as we walked along, viewing scenes of the various projects Billy is pulling off: crop production,  chickens,  ducks,  goats,  cane,  solar hot water, tuning up mechanical engines that run 40 or more miles to the gallon of diesel, and so much more.

When we left I had another 20 lbs of pears in the rucksack, and I promised Billy I wouldn’t let them go to waste.

I discovered from Billy that of his four or five pear trees, he has varieties of Baldwin, Kieffer, and Pineapple pears. The Kieffer pear, I found out from the Internet, is a cross between the Asian pear and the European pear, and was cultivated in Pennsylvania in the 1700’s or 1800’s.  These are sometimes referred to as Sand Pears here in Florida. These varieties are hardy against fireblight, and are some of the few varieties that grow well in the south. The Pineapple pears are softer, I think, and tastier fresh than the hard but hardy Baldwins, which the lore says are better-tasting when cooked and bottled.  Even if you don’t like them a lot,  look at what great nutrition they provide! Nature’s fast food; pick and eat, and you will survive another day and wonder how you got so fortunate!

One pear per pint? Wow.

L - R: Pint jar, Kieffer, Baldwin

Pineapple pears in front

Florida Pears

I neglected to transfer over my previous blog entries before I deleted the blog, but I thought the Pears entries were worth preserving! The story, briefly, is that Billy Allen gave us at least 40 lbs. of good old hard Florida organic pears from the trees on his farm near Gainesville, and I was interested in making sure this incredible harvest didn’t go to waste! As you can see by the photo on the right, some of the pears were huge! Florida pears,  in my experience,  have the reputation of being hard as rocks,  and tasteless.  I found out, through the process, that the bad rep was for the most part, undeserved! At some point, they ripen and can be eaten fresh with no regrets! And if cooked while still on the verge of ripeness, they soften up,  sure enough!  I wanted to be sure I got some recipes that used authentic

Florida pears, not the soft and fragrant Bartlett or D’anjous, so I went to the old Ward Cookbook from the 1980’s and found Lee Weaver’s recipe for Pear Mince. On the way, I found an old recipe from Joan Stewart, for Applesauce Raisin Bread. The spooky coincidence here is that on the same page as Joan Stewart’s recipe, was another recipe right below it,  for “Joan Howell’s Best Ever White Bread.”  Who knew, that 20 years later,  Joan Stewart would remarry and her name would be Joan Howell?

 

Page from the Ocala Ward Cookbook, ca 1987

 

 

Nice recipe, lots of fiber, and used up some pears

 

 

Grayzie, desparate for pear-flesh

 

While I was in the kitchen, Grayzie bugged me non-stop for fruit samples. Grayzie and Bob, who are descended from lab animals, are obsessed with fruit.  I ended up with some pear butter, which is very sugary for my taste, but I can put it in

 

Pear Butter recipe from the Ball Blue Book

 

bread or cake, as in Joan Stewart’s bread recipe.  Then I also canned some of Lee Weaver’s Pear Mince for future holiday pies, and some Pears in White Grape Juice from the Ball Blue Book. Thank you Billy Allen,  for the pears!  How lucky can we get;  free food!

 

I did offload some of these to family members at the reunion we had with Owen and Paula and David

 

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