Saturday, October 8, 2011

31 Days of Halloween: Pomegranates

REASON NUMBER FIVE: POMEGRANATES

Autumn brings about one of my favorite things to eat: pomegranates. They are absolutely, by far, my favorite fruit. When I was a kid I used to think that they were like little rubies and I had as much fun trying to get at the seeds and making an absolute mess as I did actually eating the seeds. They are like candy I tell you. Sadly it is so hard to find them other than fall, so I eat my fill. Thankfully we have things like Pom’s Pomegranate Juice year round which I find to be as equally yummy.

As I said they are messy, but just think you are expending as many calories trying to get into the damn thing and separating the seeds as you do eating them. Plus pomegranates are extremely nutritious and are full of polyphenol antioxidants which beats out that glass of red wine you are drinking. They taste great in salads, at the bottom of a pomegranate martini and a couple of other yummy recipes which I will include.

Give it a try if you have never had one. Completely worth it.

The Myth of Persephone (Smirking Style): One of the great things about pomegranates is the mythic history. There are some that say it was a pomegranate not an apple that Eve brought good old Adam to eat. Of course there is the myth of Persephone and the reason why we have seasons. During Rosh Hashana it is common to eat a pomegranate because they represent fruitfulness. Plus it is said that they have 613 seeds which corresponds with the 613 mitzvot of the Torah. But back to Persephone.

Once upon a time there was a very hot and innocent young goddess named Persephone, daughter of Zeus (King of the Gods) and Demeter (Goddess of the Harvest). She was so beautiful and adored that everyone loved her, some more so than others. Case in point, Hades (God of the Underworld) was so enamored, in that stalker sort of way, that he convinced his brother Zeus to help him gain Persephone as his wife. Of course being Greek Gods they couldn't do it the traditional candy and flowers and lets go out on a date sort of wooing. Oh no. There is less drama that way. Besides Zeus knew that there was no way Demeter was ever going to let her daughter be the new Queen of the Underworld.

So, one beautiful day Zeus caused an amazing flower to bloom in the filed that his daughter was gathering flowers. Persephone naturally saw said beautiful flower and stopped to admire. This is when Hades made his move. He opened a fissure in the Earth, popped out in his chariot, kidnapped her and then escaped back down to his home in the Underworld leaving no one but Zeus and the all seeing sun, Helios to know what had happened.

Demeter had no idea what had happened to her beloved daughter and she searched the earth for her missing daughter. Now it is unwise to make the goddess of the Harvest upset as when she is cranky, heartbroken or lonely crops tend to wither and die. Helios eventually revealed what had happened which only made Demeter even more bitter than before. Famine threatened which was a problem because if mankind perished there would be no one to worship and offer sacrifices to the gods which they kind of dug. Zeus begged Demeter to restore life to the earth, but she refused to do so. Understandable since her one time lover was the same one who helped Hades steal Persephone away anyway.

Understanding the situation was dire, Zeus then sent Hermes down to try and talk some sense into his brother Hades. However, Hades was in love and maybe Persephone had gotten over the whole kidnapped thing and realized that Hades wasn’t so horrible after all. Plus the Underworld was completely horrible. There were the Elysian fields after all. But the Earth was dying and with it, all of us pesky humans. So Hades agreed to let Persephone go. Things are never that easy though like I said when it comes to the Greek Gods. Before his wife left Hades gave Persephone a pomegranate or at least some seeds depending on the myth. The moment she ate it, it bound her to Hades and the Underworld. Take that Demeter.

The result was for part of the year Persephone would reside with her husband in the Underworld and be the Queen to Hades’ King. The rest of the year she would reside with her mother. During the months that Persephone was with Hades, Demeter still angry and bitter and upset about her son-in-law plus probably missing her favorite daughter, refused to let anything grow and thus the winter months occur. Blame the pomegranate. Well that and Zeus and Hades. Winter is their fault.

Pomegranate Clusters: I love to bake. I also love chocolate. Chocolate and pomegranate seeds would certainly make a girl happy kind of like chocolate and peanut butter. *smile* Makes about 50 small clusters.

Ingredients:
3 pomegranates

1 16 oz. package dark chocolate morsels (Ghirardelli’s 60% cacao)

Cooking thermometer (optional)

Directions:

1. Remove seeds from pomegranate into a bowl or dish. (I would recommend actually doing the process under lukewarm water as it softens the skin and also the seeds are easier to at. When performing this task, make sure not to wear anything that you wouldn’t want to be stained. De-seeding pomegranates can be a messy process. Trust me)

2. When all of your pomegranate seeds are out, lay wax paper on a flat surface. Using your fingers or a spoon, separate the seeds into small bunches of 5-10 on the wax paper to dry. You could also treat it like bark and lay the pomegranates down on a cookie sheet and drizzle the chocolate on top which you then smooth out. Once its dry you can break it up like traditional candy bark.

3. Melt the chocolate! To do this, you will either need a double-burner or can easily create one by placing a stainless steel bowl over top a pan of boiling water. Now I know you should technically use a candy thermometer, but I don’t own one, so I just wait till it melts down. Let the chocolate cool for a minute or so before spooning it over the seeds. It doesnt have the shiny surface of tempered chocolate, but tastes just fine.
4. Leave your chocolate covered seeds to dry at room temperature (around 60-70°F). Do NOT put them in the freezer! I’m not positive how refrigeration would work, but whatever you do, don’t freeze them! The chocolate will shrink and expand on the pomegranate seeds, causing the chocolate to crackle, and they won’t taste the same.

5. When the chocolate is completely dry, serve and enjoy!

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Autumn Pomtini: All I can say is...yummy.

Ingredients:
3/4 freshly squeezed pomegranate juice (you can do this by blending and then straining out the seeds) or do what I do and just by some pom wonderful juice) 

1 oz. Orange vodka

3/4 oz Peachtree Schnapps

1/4 oz lemon juice

1 oz. Orange Juice

Directions: 
 Shake all ingredients and chill. Voila alcoholic yumminess.

Have any other pomegranate goodness you would like to share such as recipes, etc? Let me know.

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