Thursday, December 13, 2018

Holding the Sun

Over Thanksgiving, Scott and I rented a friend's beachside cottage on the northeseat corner of Oahu. We had planned this trip for a long time, but we hadn't known how incredibly perfect every part of it would be. We didn't know to dream how good it could be.

  • Watched sunrises.
  • Hiked ironwood, Norfolk Island pine, and native forests, orchids popping up trailside.
  • Rode horses through banyan groves to the coast.
  • Found Scott an incredibly beautiful-sounding ukulele.
  • Drank mai tais while watching surfers. 
  • Drank mai tais while watching a snowy college football game (can't take the WSU out of the man, even in Hawaii).
  • Snorkeled and snorkeled, encountering every color of fish, vibrant eels, and even a sea turtle.
  • Shopped at a farmers' market and ate all the available mango and banana varieties, passion fruit, guavas, papayas, and even a new-to-me fruit, the eggruit. Eggfruit, by the way sounds like something you wouldn't want to eat, a fruit the texture of a cooked egg yolk. But, it's rich and delicious and reminded me more of a particularly nice roasted kobacha squash.
  • Picked out ice cold young coconuts from a cooler, watched the tiny elderly woman machete off the top point, then drank from them greedily. Scott, who had never tasted fresh coconut water, said, "This tastes like really, really good milk." Later, I broke the coconuts open by hurling them against concrete, and I devoured the tender, pliant flesh.
  • Visited a botanical garden and explored the ethnobotanical section of the garden, mesmerized by the medicinal and food plants.
  • Fell in love with breadfruit and breadfruit trees. Seriously, they are amazing trees.
  • Visited a coffee and chocolate roaster, tasting our way through Oahu grown and Oahu roasted washed process and natural processed coffee and local chocolate.
One of my favorite pictures from the trip. We really enjoyed watching this woman surf. 

We came back with sunshine inside, and when Scott and I found yummy California-grown mangoes in the grocery store the following weekend, we bought a bunch. I knew I had to make something that preserved that feeling of gold.

And, so I consulted every mango chutney recipe I could find, and came up with something that's a hybrid of several recipes. It's gently spicy but not burning, sweet and fruit-fragrant, sharp with mustard and ginger, held to the earth with nigella and tumeric. When I make it again, I will up both the ginger and the chile, but here is exactly what I made this time. Scott and I had it with lamb shoulder steaks the other night and ate almost a whole jar. This is happy food.

Mango Apple Chutney

You will need:
3 pounds ripe mangos, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1" chunks
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (I used Diamond salt)
2 cup sugar
1 cup cider vinegar
3 garlic cloves, grated or finely minced
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 1/2  pounds tart apples, peeled, cored, and chut into 1/2" chunks
1 cup golden raisins
2 finely minced chiles (I used Aji Amarillos)
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon grated fresh turmeric
1 teaspoon nigella seed
1 1/2 teaspoon brown or black mustard seed

To make the chutney:
Place the mango chunks in a glass or other nonreactive bowl and toss with salt. Let sit overnight, or for at least half a day. When you're ready to cook the chutney, drain off whatever liquid has collected.

In a large pot that has a lid, stir together the sugar and cider vinegar, and place unlidded over high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar has melted. Stir in all the rest of the ingredients. Turn the heat down to medium. Partially cover the pot until all the ingredients come to a boil, stir, partially cover again, and stir again. Repeat this for 10-15 minutes or longer (depending on what variety of apples you have), until the apples just begin to soften.

Remove the lid and cook for another 10-15 minutes or so at medium heat, or until the mixture is thick like a sturdy applesauce. The mango should have mostly cooked down and lost its structure, while the apple will likely keep more texture.

If you'd like to preserve this for a while, as I did, you can follow the USDA National Center for Home Food Preservation guidelines here.

This recipe makes 4 to 4 1/2 pints of chutney.

If you can't transport yourself to Hawaii this winter, here is Scott's beachside rendition of White Christmas, complete with Hawaiian shirt, ocean waves, and ukulele to help ring in the season.

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