Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Gang still rides......

Another weekend, and I have more apple butter cooking up overnight. There were two pecks of apples to use, so........ It's about 6-1/3 pounds or so of apples before peeling and coring. So I figure it's about 5 pounds of apples afterwards. And I still have quite a few apples left to eat (my adored Pink Lady kind).

And I just realized I left out the spices! Crap! I remembered the Splenda but not the spices. Dang it. Need to go add it really quick!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Apple Butter Gang.....

Forgive this walk down Memory Lane, but when I was a kid, I got a great thrill out of Movie Saturdays at the elementary school. You see, one of my Girl Scout friends had a dad who had a great love for movies. On Saturdays during the school year, and occasionally in the summers, Mr. H would show movies to the kids using the projector. These were the days when movies and films in class were shown with big honkin' projectors and you had to get the reels just so......... Kids today have no idea how good we had it.

For the grand princely sum of 50c/week, we got to see not one but TWO kid-friendly movies in the cafeteria. Mr. H also provided popcorn and cotton candy for a little extra money. The movies were the great Disney 70s fare like Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Cat From Outer Space, the original Freaky Friday with Jodie Foster, and one of my very favorites, The Apple Dumpling Gang with Tim Conway and Don Knotts. If memory serves, I also saw the first Superman with Christopher Reeve on one of those Saturdays.

But anyway, last Saturday, I became a one-woman Apple Butter Gang. As I mentioned in my last post, I got possessed, bought 3 pecks of apples, and found a very easy crock-pot apple butter recipe online! The adventure of making apple butter was more like a misadventure from one of the Apple Dumpling Gang movies -- and just as much fun! These are some of the things I learned from my great apple butter adventure:
  • The crock-pot that I thought was 6 quarts is only 5. Oh well. What can you do? Okay, what I really wanted to do was get my happy rear to Kohl's for the 8-quart crockpot they had on sale earlier this week. Like I need it. I do. Don't I?
  • Whomever created the recipe has a serious sweet tooth! :) The original recipe called for 2 c sugar for three pounds of apples. It said you could substitute Splenda. So I did. And let me tell you.......... 1.5 cups of Splenda was PLENTY for 6 pounds of AB's -- honestly, almost too much. I could have gotten away with just 1 cup of the Brown Sugar Splenda.
  • When it says cook on Low for 8-10 hours, go with the 10. I ended up putting the apple mush in the fridge until Monday evening, then getting it out to cook down some more. And honestly, I could have let it go for maybe even 11-12? These were some seriously juicy apples!
  • Five quarts of apple pieces will cook down by half. What I thought might be 1 gallon (4 quarts) of apple butter was only 72 oz (9 half-pint jars). Yeah, that's still a buttload of apple butter. And I have more to make ..... I gotta do something with these apples! We will also be making and freezing some applesauce too. MMMM!!!!
  • And, homemade apple butter definitely beats store-bought! ANY day.
Signing off now!
Suzy Homemaker

Sunday, October 18, 2009

It's the only explanation...

I am possessed. By the demon of domesticity. Her name is Suzy Homemaker.

I hardly have a domestic type bone in my body for things like home cleaning, chores, decor (I'm definitely no Martha Stewart, but I have a vague idea of what works for me). But I am finding myself strangely drawn to the kitchen and whipping up all manner of food.

I went back to the orchard after working yesterday's WW meetings. I bought 3 pecks total: 1.5 each of Pink Lady (my favorite variety!) and of Arkansas Black. I also got the bright idea while standing there in line to make some apple butter.I found a very easy crock-pot apple butter recipe online, and I fired that sucker up today. I used primarily the Arkansas Blacks, with one of the Honeycrisps. I have even made a double batch, so I might be cooking these apples well into tomorrow...... And I don't know what kind of acidic-like stuff is in apples (peelings, fruit itself, etc.), but let me tell you, my hands felt like sandpaper!!! I did an improvised version of Mary Kay's "Satin Hands" routine with what I have on hand at the house, and they're starting to appear human again. I also managed to completely clog up BOTH basins in the kitchen sink Apparently our disposal wasn't really up for the peelings from 6 pounds of apples. Yeah, I know. I ought to start composting if I'm becoming a domestic diva. Actually, I've been thinking about it anyway (my God, what has come over me????).

I had planned to make some ham & potato chowder today as well and freeze it for the winter. I have about 10 quart freezer containers just begging for some soup to be put into them. I've delayed only because I have to also bake some chicken and some turkey burgers for this week. Yeah, I can do it all at once, but Lord have mercy! Too much domesticity and I may burn out! HA!!!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

As much as I love kitchen gadgetry

it has become rather apparent that the gadgets do not love me back........

I am typing to you right now with a band-aid around my right ring finger, top knuckle. That's where I sliced/gouged it on a mandoline, trying to nicely and evenly cut a summer squash. Okay, keep in mind that this gadget wasn't a terribly expensive model -- less a "mandoline" and more of a cheap "slicer" (yeah, you think?).Further proof that you get what you pay for. Happy to report that this will be my LAST accident using said slicer -- I bought a much nicer mandoline a couple of weeks ago. I just grabbed this one out of habit.

Meanwhile, my left thumb and the top knuckle of the left index finger look as though they lost a serious clawfest with a most ill-tempered feline. This was from using the "and if you act now, we'll throw in......" portion of the package. I bought one of those "Titan" peelers that is advertised on TV, and it came with a free julienning tool. Actually, I'm rather pleased with the peeler and the extra gadget. They're both pretty nice.

These culinary preparation disasters should come as no real surprise to those who know me. Remember "danger-prone Daphne" from Scooby-Doo? Or "Messy Marvin" from the Hershey's commercials? Yeah. I'm a relative of theirs.

I have grown to love preparing food. It's been one of the nicer side benefits from the whole weight-loss thing: falling in love with food and how to prepare it, and ways I can make it tastier and better for me. But God knows, while I would love to buy it already-prepped, it's not always an economically sound idea to pay for convenience's sake. Sometimes it is -- don't get me wrong. For instance, as I stare at the ever-reddening bandage, I'm thinking maybe paying more for the pre-sliced squash could have been a good thing.

For me, there's something more "authentic" about doing it yourself. Being part of the preparation can give you a deeper connection to your food and a deeper appreciation for it. Yes, I can buy a can of soup; open and heat, and enjoy for 2 or 3 meals. Or, I can take the time to get all the ingredients, make a huge pot of the soup, eat it for days or freeze it for later, and know more precisely how it was done, what went into it, etc. I haven't gone quite so far as to using ingredients I personally raised with my own little hands; I guess I'm probably more Rachael Ray than I am Martha Stewart. But at least it's a place to start. I can appreciate all the different flavors ... improvise a little with the herbs and spices to suit my own tastes ... ponder the universe and agriculture and all that transpired to bring this food to me. And what the food will do for me once it enters my system .... and how its energy can best be used. What will I do with what the food has given me? How do I respond to that gift? (Yes, let's all hold hands and sing "All Good Gifts" from Godspell, right? Just think about it, okay?)

Where my failures lie are in the mechanics of the preparation. Food and meal prep occasionally requires great patience and an even hand. *SNORT* Okay folks, we need not address my shortcomings in those departments. I'm all too aware of them. So maybe, just maybe, that's the lesson to be learned -- even more so than the "connection to the food and the life cycle and all of creation by extension" portion. I've learned to appreciate the idea of the process, and need to work further on the timing thereof.

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And in other news............ only 3 weeks to go and I will officially no longer be larva. Color me very psyched!!!!