Monthly Archives: August 2010

Applesauce

Do you remember my 5 boxes full of apples?

The kids and I spent 2 long afternoons turning them into applesauce.

apples in WaterThe first step was to wash every apple – we used a solution of Fit and water.  This was Buddy’s job and he did it well.

Apples cut

From there the apples went to the table where Dagmar and Angel Girl were waiting. They carefully cut each apple into quarters – removing any bad spots. Notice that the skin and cores are still present? We’ll take care of that soon – I promise.

When we had a pan full of apples, I added some water and put it on the stove to cook. Make sure you stir it occasionally or they will scorch! (Ask me how I know that! 🙁 )

on the stove

Notice the back pan – it’s cooked down just right. The front pan is just starting. Oh dear – there’s a bruised spot the girls missed! Oops!

Hot Apples

These apples are cooked down and ready to be sauced. Notice how the skin has released and you can see already see sauce forming?
Apples Smushed

Now it’s time for the super- duper wonder machine! I LOVE my Victorio Strainer! One child scoops the hot apples in the top while another child spins the handle. The core, skins and seeds came out one side to be discarded (chicken food here!) and hot applesauce comes out the other.

Voila!

We bought my Victorio 17 years ago and it paid for itself the very first year. It’s saved me money every year since.

Apples

Now come the fun part – tasting! If you think it’s sweet enough – go ahead and package it. If not – add the sweetening of your choice.

My whole crew gets involved in this step – everybody has a spoon and an opinion! (For the record – some of them never think it’s sweet enough!)
Done!!!!Once you have the desired taste, you can put the finished sauce in containers and freeze it – or put it in sterilized jars and give it 20 minutes in a boiling water bath canner.

We repeated the process until we had used up all the apples – and now have 100 quarts of perfectly sweetened applesauce sitting in the pantry waiting for a cold winter day.

And that’s a might good feeling!

I’ve linked this post up at Tempt My Tummy Tuesday At Blessed With Grace, Tuesdays at the Table at All the Small Stuff and Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.

Somewhere Between…

We’re in a between place –  it’s not quite summer and it’s not quite fall.

The days are warm and sunny, but the nights are cool and crisp.

School has started, but we’re still wearing shorts and t-shirts.

Melon

My garden is still producing summer crops – like these cantaloupes – all eight of them harvested on one day!

But my fall crop of  apples in the orchard are already starting to ripen.

We picked 5 tubs of apples from a neighbor’s tree this week and canned almost 50 quarts of applesauce – and still have 3 tubs to work up.

Apples

The pears aren’t far behind them.

The cicadas are singing and the world is starting – very slowly – to turn brown.

One season is closing and another is just beginning.

A part of me is ready for the schedule and structure of the fall – yet another part of me already misses the freedom of the summer.

While my mouth still waters for another taste of meat on the grill, I find myself lingering over recipes for warm comforting casseroles and rich thick stews.

We’re hanging in the “between” right now, enjoying the sunshine and beautiful breezes.

For just a little while we can forget the heat and humidity of the past months and the cold and snow that are surely in our future.

Yes, we are most definitely somewhere between and I think it’s a pretty sweet place to be!

Too Many Recipes!

I’ve been collected recipes since my mom first let me start experimenting in the kitchen – many years ago. My first recipe file was a bright orange plastic one – think 1970’s.

At one of my bridal showers a friend gave me a cute wicker recipe file that replaced the orange one in my first kitchen.

That wicker file lasted through 5 babies, a move and more meals than I want to count. In time my recipes outgrew it and I started a second plastic one. One file held main dishes and sides. The other file had cakes, cookies, pies and other desserts.  (Yes – I had an entire file for sweets!)

It was time for a new system.

My inspiration came after a visit to my sister-in-law’s. She had purchased a large card catalog at their local library and was using it o store all of her craft and sewing notions. I loved it! But it had about 36 drawers – roughly 35 more than I needed!

I searched eBay for weeks until I found it –

File– a single card catalog drawer in my price range with enough patina in the wood that it fits right in my decor!

It is the perfect width for 5 x 3 inch recipe cards – and the perfect length for my kitchen counter.

Open File

I was able to empty both recipe files into it – with room to spare.

And if I eventually fill it up – I can just look for another single card catalog file to sit on top or beside it.

Just think of the dessert recipes I could collect then! 🙂

I’ve linked this post up at Works for me Wednesday at We are That Family.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream Cake

Cake

I can’t believe Dagmar’s sweet sixteen surprise party was over a month ago – and I’m just now getting the post written about her amazing birthday cake!

Dagmar is my aspiring chef – so you know this cake had some thought behind it!

We started weeks ahead of the day with some high level negotiations. The flavor profile was easy – chocolate and peanut butter. Finding the right recipe however – was not.

We both scoured recipe books and the web for that perfect combination of ice cream – chocolate – peanut butter and specialness.

Finally – we hit on a compromise using two different recipes – one from a Taste of Home magazine, and one from a favorite food blog Eggs on Sunday. The result was a rich and decadent hit!

It was easy to prepare and – the real selling point – could be made several days ahead of time since it’s kept in the freezer.

Just remember to allow time for the cake to freeze up between layers!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream Cake

2 cups crushed Oreo cookies
4 Tablespoons butter (melted)
1/2 gallon chocolate ice cream
1- 1/4 cup Reese’s Peanut Butter cups – coarsely chopped
3 ounces cream cheese
1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 cup Cool Whip
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream

Mix the crushed Oreo cookies and the melted butter to make a crust. Press into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan and freeze for about an hour.

Slightly soften the chocolate ice cream and press about 1/2 of it in a nice layer on top of the Oreo cookie crust. (We didn’t measure things very well – just eyeballed a nice layer and pressed it in!) Sprinkle about 1/3 of the peanut butter cups on the ice cream and freeze for about an hour.

While this layer is freezing, mix the cream cheese and peanut butter in a bowl. Add the powdered sugar and milk, mixing well. Fold in the whipped cream.

Spread the cream cheese layer over the chocolate ice cream/peanut butter cup layer, sprinkle with another 1/3 of the chopped peanut butter cups and freeze for another hour.

Spread the remaining chocolate ice cream over the cream cheese mixture and freeze for yet another hour.

Meanwhile  – melt the chocolate chips and heavy cream together, stirring until the mixture is smooth.  Let it cool for a few minutes so you don’t melt the ice cream when you pour it on!

Remove the springform pan full of chocolate -peanut butter goodness from the freezer and carefully pour the chocolate ganache over it. Sprinkle with the remaining peanut butter cups, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least an hour – although overnight is better.

To serve, dip a knife in warm water, wipe it dry and go around the outside of the springform pan to loosen it. Release the sides of the pan and admire your handiwork!

This should serve about 12 – or just 5 hungry chocolate loving teen-age girls! (I’m just kidding my wonderful daughters and nieces!)  😉

Enjoy!

I’ve linked this post up with Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace, Tasty Tuesdays at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and Tuesdays at the Table at All the Small Stuff.

Our First Day of School & Other Surprises

We started school this week.

Okay – pick yourselves up now.

For those of you who know me well – you know that I don’t like to start school until at least after Labor Day.  I want a really long – very s t r e t c h e d out summer.

Stuff

Yet – here we are starting school in the middle of August – before even the public schools have started.

What’s up with that?

Well…usually I’m up to my eyebrows in veggies to can and freeze right now, but this year the garden is really behind.

And…for years we didn’t have air conditioning and it was just too hot to even think – let alone do math.

But…mostly we started early because we have something really exciting planned.

I mean really exciting!

Are you ready for this?

In September, we’re going on a massive 10 day trip out west – with all five kids – and we’ll be camping.

That’s right – all seven of us for 10 days – camping.

But not in this RV – no, that would be too easy. It has a kitchen and an indoor bathroom.

No, that’s not us. We’ll be the ones driving a 15 year old suburban pulling a 35 year old pop-up camper.

Think Brady Bunch.

We’ll see the Tetons, Yellowstone and the Black Hills while enjoying the comfort and lack of indoor plumbing of a 35 year old Starcraft pop-up. It sleeps eight, is very clean and most importantly – it’s free.

Vintage Coleman Pop-Up

Did you notice that I called this a “trip” not a vacation? A vacation happens when you stay in hotels and eat in restaurants and don’t have children with you.

No – this is most definitely a trip – an epic adventure that will go down in the annuls of family history.

It will be a major memory making event and the excitement is building!

But for now, we have an entire week of school under our belts. Then in a few weeks – when everyone else is doing math problems and diagramming sentences – we’ll be hiking in the Tetons and watching Old Faithful.

Just one more reason to love home schooling!

RV picture courtesy of Michael Gil.