Saturday, December 18, 2010

Local Things

I never thought much about local produce and food politics when I was growing up. I got a little taste of it in university, but it wasn't until I started cooking for myself, that I was fully introduced to the world of local eating. That being said, I'm not that good at it, especially during this time of the year. I try my best, but there are just some things that are hard to live without, like oranges, lemons, chocolate, coffee ... ok so I'm not going to list them all because it would be too embarrassing. Veggies, apples, pears, berries definitely and most recently poultry and yogurt .. those I can handle. But local citrus doesn't exist here in the Tdot and I can't imagine my smoothie without that orangey tang, or my curry without that lemon-lime spark.

Recently, my best friend took a work trip down to San Fransisco and in between presenting, note-taking and mingling with professional peers, she took a little time to explore the farmer's market. Upon returning, she described to me something that we would never have here in Toronto: local persimmons. Wow. That's almost as good as getting a local lemon. I HAVE to visit San Fran.

Have you ever had persimmons? It's hard to describe the taste. They're just sweet, and fruity and delicious. I have great memories of eating persimmons as a kid, waiting for them to be smooshy and ripe, and then just eating the pulp like pudding. It was a real treat. Now that I'm all grown up, I kind of prefer the firmer kind of persimmon, the kind that you peel and cut up and snack on. To me, it's best when the flesh has just a little bit of give. Awhile ago when I came home, I found two little persimmons perched on my kitchen counter. I instantly remembered seeing a beautiful, easy recipe for a yummy-looking loaf/quick bread over at Joy the Baker, and I knew I had to try it.

I tweaked the recipe a bit to suit my needs, and baked them up in mini muffin tins instead of a loaf pan. The results were sweet, spicy, warm, wholesome, tender and just plain good. A perfect way to brighten up your streetcar ride home, or make your friend's morning before a dreaded meeting. I think persimmons are still around for a little bit longer, so it's still not too late. And if you're in San Fran, savour the local loveliness and think of those of us up here in TO, who can only dream of local persimmons.

Spiced Persimmon Mufiins
adapted from Joy the Baker makes 24 mini muffins, or one loaf

2 persimmons, peeled, chopped and pulsed until pulpy in a blender or chopper
1/2 an apple, grated
1/2 cup of oats
1/4 cup of skim milk yogurt
1/4 cup of milk
1/4 cup of brown sugar
2 tablespoons of canola oil
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger
a big pinch of cinnamon
1 cup of whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder

1. Combine the oats, yogurt and milk in a large bowl. Let stand for 10 minutes (now would be a good time to grate your apple and pulse your persimmons!)

2. Into the oat mixture, add the brown sugar, oil, egg and ginger. Mix to combine.

3. Sift in the flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon. Stir until just combined.

4. Spoon the mixture into prepared mini muffin pans and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes.

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