gearing up for the dark days blogging challenge

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My entire house smells like the floral, slightly apply, slightly pineapply fruit most of us wouldn’t even recognize: the quince.  It’s a part of the supplies I’m gathering as part of the 3rd annual Dark Days blogging challenge, run by Laura of (not so) Urban Hennery up in the great rainy north (Washington).  I and a bunch of other food bloggers will prepare and serve one completely local meal through the roughest days of the year in terms of local produce: late fall, winter, and early spring.  It is going to be a challenge, but I’m excited about it, since I’m already learning a great deal about sourcing local grains and other necessities.  You can bet my preserved foods are going to be a big part of the challenge, and I’ve been looking through my freezer for what I managed to save over the summer.

If you’re interested in playing along, follow the link above (also listed on the right side column as a pretty little button) and join me!

As for the quince, he and his brothers will meet a sad but delicious end as a cooked, strained juice.  Quince is high in natural pectin, so it makes a great addition to jams and jellies.  It’s also delicious served as a compote.

I see quince as a long-lost friend because I had an alphabet book that couldn’t find anything else in the child’s universe for Q other than a quince.  A quince, sure!  Little did I know that unlike the banana or dog or umbrella, I wouldn’t see a live quince until college.  And, truth be told, it ain’t much to look at, either.  But the smell, oh man, words can’t even begin to describe it.  If you find an ugly, bumpy, yellow (or green that will ripen to lemon yellow) thing in the produce bin, pick it up and breathe it in.  There’s nothing like it in the world.

Edited to add:  Looking for quince recipes?  Our own Laura McCandlish, a Corvallis-based food blogger, has gathered a handful from various cooks, near and far, for an article for NPR’s Kitchen Window.

5 thoughts on “gearing up for the dark days blogging challenge

  1. Ann 10 November 2009 / 3:40 pm

    I adore quince! A bag in the fridge crisper will perfume the whole fridge for weeks. I just turned mine into a quince-applesauce. Marvelous stuff. I froze some to have with our heritage turkey on Thanksgiving!

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  2. mrasbach 10 November 2009 / 9:36 pm

    I guess the natural pectin thing is good, but why not try quince jelly? It’s so delicate tasting–somewhere between apple and rose–and so. darn. pretty. The left over pulp can be made into a jam or butter, or add some apples to it and go saucy like Ann does. I think there’s some traditional preserve called “Paradise Jam/Jelly/Butter” that is made from quince, apple, and pear, too.

    And quince/goat cheese combinations? Amazing. Membrillo and Manchego are the traditional quince/cheese combo, but I had an incredible tart last fall made with caramelized quince, chevre, and walnuts. I’d have married that chef in a minute.

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  3. Aida 10 November 2009 / 10:04 pm

    Hmm, delicious, I can smell and taste it!

    Plus it comes in The Owl & the Pussycat
    “They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
    Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
    And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
    They danced by the light of the moon…”

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  4. Brooke 11 November 2009 / 9:54 pm

    So glad to have read your blog about quince! I had acquired a log of the fruit and the next week was devoted to learning about and cooking them. I fell in love with their flavor and versatility. My boyfriend found tons of recipes in his collection of Middle Eastern and Arabic cookbooks, and I turned out a fabulous (and easy) Tarte Tatin from a recipe I found on Epicurious.com. Enjoy!!

    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Quince-Tarte-Tatin-236809

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