Sunday, January 10, 2010

Winter Gems: Seckel Pears

I found these Seckel pears recently from the Jerzy Boys at the University District farmers' market. I love these pears! The last time I got some was last fall from Michael and Liz at Grouse Mountain Farm. I don't know if these are the last from the Jerzy Boys but as soon as I spotted these pears, I knew they were the true gems of winter.

The pears are sweet but not cloying like a ripe Bartlett and the flesh is frim, like a Bosc, making it both creamy textured and sweet tasting. Named after an 18th century Pennsylvania farmer, Seckel pear trees are said to the only true American pears and were discovered growing wild. The farmers at Jerzy Boys said Seckels are used as the root stock for pear trees but Seckel pears are rarely allowed to grow on these root stocks. Instead the more well-known varieties are grafted on.

These late Seckels are the seasonal farewell to to some of the best pears in the Northwest. Eating them is better than a sunny day in January.

When I got home from the market, I filled this bowl. You wouldn't suspect such a simple act could be so riviting but these pears had Finn's complete attention.

I wanted to serve a few Seckels for dessert, and I had some North Star sour cherries from Grouse Mountain Farm already thawing in my refrigerator. So I decided to make cherry sauce to serve over wedges of the pears. I love the flavor of these cherries so I deliberately kept the ingredients to a minimum. Here's the easy sauce I made:

Sweet and Sour Cherry Sauce

Use only organic cornstarch because conventionally processed cornstarch comes from transgenic

corn plants. You could add some lemon or orange zest to this sauce. The cherries came from Grouse Mountain farm and the apple juice was processed at Rockridge Orchards. Serve this topping over fruit slices, sorbet, ice cream or cake.

2 cups pitted, frozen, thawed pie cherries

1/2 cup apple juice

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon organic cornstarch

Stir cherries, apple juice, sugar, and cornstarch together. Heat in a medium size saucepan for 10 to 15 minutes. Mixture will become clear and thick. Remove from heat and serve.

On the book front--I'm still slogging away at the index and proofing. Who knew all this was involved in a book? Anyway, I am the last one to proof and make corrections, until indexing and proofing is completed, I'm shooting for one or two more posts. I think the due date this time around is January 18th, so bear with me, I'm still here. Then I'll return to my previous three posts a week. This book has been a challenge to make my deadlines, but the end result will be much better for my attention to the details.

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