Happy Halloween!

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Great Flats Pic 10/31

Wow!  What happened to all the leaves in the last couple of weeks?!

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October 31, 2009

And thus, November begins…

Applesauce and Apple Butter

 

Finally getting around to blogging about apple stuff.  We’ve had a lot of apples hanging around the house since we’ve been apple picking twice this season.  Finally, last weekend, I got around to doing something with them.

We had picked up a brand new apple peeler/slicer/corer the week before.  Have you seen these things before?

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Previously, I’d only see these things at houses owned by people old enough to be my grandma.  And the gizmos were that old too, because the blades were dull and it was just easier to peel by hand. But not this new one! It sliced and diced and I totally understood why they are so awesome!

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I ended up with a huge batch of apples and canned applesauce and butter with them.  Both were super easy, just took some time on the stove.

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Everyone knows how to make applesauce, right? How about apple butter?  I never assume because until last year *I* had no idea. I’d never even heard of apple butter. 🙂

Just in case…

Canned Applesauce

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  • 2 1/2-3 1/2 pounds of apples per quart
  • Water
  • Sugar (optional)
  • Cinnamon and/or other spices(optional)

Wash apples and pat dry.  Core, peel and slice apples.  Cook util soft in a large covered saucepot with enough water to keep from sticking.

You can purree to a pulp in a food processor or mill, but I just let it cook down until chunky.  If pureeing, just return to the pot afterwards and add sugar and/or cinammon to taste. Bring applesauce to a boil, stirring to prevent sticking, and keep at a boil while filling jars.  Leave 1/2 in. headspace in jars.  Process pints and quarts 20 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

Apple Butter

Apple butter is a concentrated spread of apples.  Tomato sauce is to applesauce like tomato PASTE is to apple butter.  Basically, you just cook down the apples a lot.  The sugar in the apples (and any added sugar) caramelizes, turning the butter a deep brown.  You can spread it on anything you like to eat it with, AND it’s what you use to make fruit leather with.  Not that you can’t make it with other fruits, but it’s plentiful and cheap enough. I wouldn’t use my precious cherries to make fruit leather. 🙂

  • 4 lbs apples (per 3 pints of apple butter)
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cloves

Wash apples and pat dry.  Core, peel and slice apples. Combine apples and 2 cups water in a large saucepot. Simmer until apples are soft.  Once again, you can puree the apples in a food processor or food mill, but I just let them cook till they got soft and mushy and broke apart.  Just make sure you don’t liquefy it.  Measure out 2 quarts of apple pulp.

Combine the pulp, sugar and spices in a pot and cook it down until it’s thick enough to round up on a spoon. As it starts to thicken, stir often, so it doesn’t stick.  Ladle the hot butter into jars, leaving 1/4 in. headspace.  Process for 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

We still have half our apples left and here’s what I made (plus one pint of applesauce that was camera shy).  I want to can apples to make apple pie filling this weekend.  They’re starting to get soft because we kept them upstairs instead of our downstairs storage closet where it’s nice and cool.  Gotta do something with them soon!

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Bliss

I’m sitting in a hotel room in the Copley Square area of Boston, watching my Yanks on TV, my laptop open on my lap, with a glass of Coke on ice sitting next to me. I’m treating myself after the day I had, getting poked, prodded, and stress-tested. And it’s fabulous.  Er, the relaxing part, not the poked and prodded part.

I had a post I could have written tonight but I’m just enjoying laying here, relaxing, so it’ll wait until this weekend.  In the meantime, if you will just send good thoughts/prayers/vibes to me tomorrow I will appreciate it!  Medical stuff is no fun, and after the year I’ve had, I am just OVER IT.

I have spent umpteen days in this city this year, and never had the opportunity to actually ever hang out here! K and I really need to make a trip just to see the sights and enjoy it. I went for a walk tonight, even in the windy, rainy, cold, and just love it.  I almost left NYU to come here for college sophomore year, but ended up deciding to stay in the New York.  Sometimes I wonder if I should have transferred here instead! I still sometimes want to move here, but financially, it wouldn’t make any sense.  The COL is so much lower where we live now.

So tonight I will watch the game, take a hot bath, putz around on the computer and revel in having nothing to do – no cleaning, no canning, no cooking – pure bliss. I love it so.

♬♪ Will You Light My Kindle? ♪♬

Guess who got a Kindle for her birthday?

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That’s right – this girl!

My parents gave me a very nice gift card for my birthday, with the express hope that I would use it toward a Kindle.  I hemmed and hawed…I thought it was $100 more than I could afford, but I found out the price had been dropped $40 right before my birthday.

I hemmed and hawed again, wondering if the price would continue to go down balanced with my desire to make my parents happy by buying the Kindle and enjoying it enough before the next version came out.

Because it’s going to come out.  Probably any day now. I mean, the Sony Reader has already started with the touchscreen, and the Barnes and Noble Nook is about bring even more options to pass next month.  It’s inevitable, the march of time makes technology obselete as soon as it comes out!  So, instead of forking over my hard-earned (er…birthday-earned) cash, plus some of my own, I decided upon a refurbished version.  An additional $40 less, same guarantee from Amazon (1 year limited warranty, 30 days to return, less waste to the environment, looks the same as brand new)  and I won’t feel bad as a newer, more expensive version comes out.  And if I want to upgrade at some point (er…WHEN I want to) I’ll feel less guilty about it.  🙂

So far, I’m loving it.  I’ve subscribed to the NYT blog ($1.99/month) and bought one book, Outlander, which I’ve been meaning to read forever, for $2.39. (It must have been on sale last week because now it’s more!) Big spender I am! I can’t justify the $9.99 books yet – I go through books so easily.  So I found a website where I can download all the classics for free!

Just look at the list of books! For a classics lover like I am, this is perfect.

The one thing I don’t like so far, and this is bratty of me, there’s a different page numbering method on the kindle books.  Maybe there’s a correlation, but I sort of wish I could tell what page I am in the hardcopy version of the book, because Part 9708 just doesn’t equate to me.  But I love how it tells me in the lower left corner that I’m 48% through the book, since you certainly can’t tell by thumbing through the pages.

So I’m loving it, and loving how when I go to Boston this week for more medical stuff, I won’t have to lug three huge books with me.  That in itself makes it worth it.

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Last Outdoor Market of the Season

I didn’t feel that good this morning, but the shopping must be done, so hubby and I made our way to City Hall for the last outdoor Greenmarket of the season. Starting next Sunday, it will have been one year since the Greenmarket started, and it will be indoors until Spring.

Our loot from today:

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  • 1 dozen jumbo eggs (these babies are huge!) and 1lb chicken cutlets from Coopers Ark Farm
  • 1 bottle of Salmagundi wine (rose) from Hudson-Chatham Winery
  • 1/2 gallon reduced-fat milk from Battenkill Creamery
  • 2 loaves Rustic Italian bread from Our Daily Bread
  • 1 Italian frying pepper

It was really 1/2 a bottle of Salmagundi, because it was on a sale, but only the tasting bottle was left, which we bought for a discounted price. 🙂 Because, really, I’m the one who’s gonna drink it, not K, and I really don’t need to drink a whole bottle.  It’s pretty good, light and very smooth, but I can’t figure out what the name is for, and the label doesn’t give any clues.  The best I can find is that salmagundi means sort of a hodge-podge of things, which might be what’s in the wine?

We also ended up getting jumbo eggs for the price of large ones, which is kinda cool. Although, honestly, to me, an egg is an egg, I use the same number no matter how big they are.  They are pretty hefty though! And Phil, owner of Coopers Ark also ended up bringing a couple of young emus that they keep at the farm (and sell their eggs at the market). We never buy one, it’s $15, and even though 1 emu egg is the equivalent of a dozen chicken eggs (!!!) chicken eggs are only $3/dozen. 😉

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I’ve seen lots of scary pics of emus, but these were as friendly as could be. There were no signs saying to be careful, and I saw plenty of kids sticking their hands all over the birds without a problem.

We are only in town three days this week, so we’re making more pizza, breaded chicken cutlets, and clam sauce with linguine. Obviously the clams are not local, heh.  Oh…I love seafood too much to give it up!

And We’re Still Alive…

Last night, Hubby and I opened our first jar of tomato sauce and meatballs that we canned at the end of August and I wrote about here.

We were a little scared. Ok, a lot scared.  But a friend of mine who’s an EMT was coming over later to spend the night (she had a conference in the area to go to today) and I figured, hey, at least we’ll  have someone who can help us as we’re dying of botulism! 🙂

So K took the band off, and then pried the lid – it was certainly on there tight – GOOD!  He sniffed it. Smelled delicious! He poured it into a saucepot to heat it up to boiling (just in case, you know) and the meatballs hadn’t turned into mush, they were still whole meatballs!

We made our WW pasta and ladled the sauce on top.  And gingerly, carefully, we took little bites at first, as if expecting to drop dead at any minute.  But it all tasted fine and we finished the quart jar.  (with 6 meatballs in there, it was  considerably less sauce than you would normally get from a jar at the store). 

We must have done the pressure canning correctly because here we are today, just fine, after eating meatballs that have been sitting in our pantry for 2 months. 🙂

So cool! Now I want to pressure can all sorts of things!

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My Dream Homestead

In thinking about what homesteading things I would most like to concentrate on right now, I started thinking about my ideal homesteading life.  Then, on Sunday morning,  I saw on Mother Earth News the exact question I’d been thinking about.  “With no limitations, what would your ideal future homestead look like?

My answer seems to be a little different than most of the people on there. For instance,  I wouldn’t want 500 acres; even 100 acres would be way too much for me UNLESS it was wooded land I could just hike on.  So, I think I would take about 20 acres with a home that looked like this: http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/173-Keyser-Rd_Middleburgh_NY_12122_1112702659 .

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It would also have the best pantry ever, to hold everything I wanted to preserve, my jams and salsas, spices, apples, flour, sugar, etc.

That house would have a small greenhouse lean-to at the side of it, which I could use to start veggies and flowers in the spring, make them last a little longer in the fall  and grow herbs almost all year round, like this:

I’d have a really big garden, maybe double or triple the size we have now, with raised beds and trellises, and I’d own an auto-tiller  so I didn’t have to turn any dirt over by hand. 🙂

I’d have a compost pile a corner far enough from the house so that it wouldn’t be smelly/nasty so close, but near enough to bring out scraps from the house and use the compost in the garden.

We’d have lots of different fruit trees.

And some maple trees for syrup.

And berry bushes.

I’d have an awesome root cellar to hold all the foods I would later preserve.

K would have his barn where he could have workshop and his cars.

And then, we would have some chickens, and a cool chicken coop.

We’d undertake top-bar beekeeping.

And possibly have a couple of goats. You know, for lawn-mowing capabilities. 🙂 Maybe goat milk eventually.

That’s all I want! Not much to ask for, huh?  No, not at all! 🙂  But I guess that’s why they call it ideal.

 

Winter Cover Crops

The winter cover crops have been ordered! Sometime this weekend we shall turn over the unused sections of our plot and sow winter rye and white clover.

Cereal rye is one of the most hardy crops out there, and ideal for sowing this late in the season.  It germinates and grows at 33F, and once established will survive temps as low as -30F! While I affectionately call upstate NY “Alaska” during the wintertime, it definitely never gets that low!

The cereal rye will add organic matter to the soil next spring and help fix the nitrogen over the winter for next season’s crop, which is desperately needed because of our soil situation.

White Dutch Clover is also a cover crop, and K has been looking for these seeds since this past spring, before finally relenting and ordering them online with the winter rye (we did look for these seeds at the co-op but couldn’t find them). It also helps fix nitrogen in gardens and gives honey bees some nectar to munch on! White clover even grows in clay, so it should love our garden and help it too!

Can’t wait to sow these and see some grasses rustling in the plot and white flowers next spring!

Farmers Market Sunday

We really didn’t have much to buy at the Farmers Market this week, as we’d bought a lot the week before and we’d gone “shopping” in the garden the day before.

Farmers market loot

Farmers market loot

  • 1/2 gallon of reduced-fat milk and 1 pint of chocolate milk from Battenkill Creamery.
  • 1lb chicken cutlets from Coopers Ark Farm
  • 3/4lb maple breakfast sausage links from Sweet Tree Farm
  • 1 cheese danish from Our Daily Bread

All pictured in front of our newly pulled carrots drying on the table.

We’re going through a “breakfast for dinner” phase right now, which probably isn’t the healthiest we could be, but we’re feeling burnt out overall and are in dire need of a vacation! Alas, that won’t be happening till January, so we’ll muddle through with a few lazy meals for a few weeks, until we feel like cooking a lot again.

So we broke our one meal with meat per week rule this week, and bought breakfast sausage to eat with pancakes for dinner (which we had tonight, yum!) Seeing as I had fresh buttermilk left over from making butter this weekend, pancakes seemed like the perfect thing to have for dinner, along with these sausages.  Added to that some of last maple syrup we got at the sugarhouse last winter, and it was delish!

Our dinner list for the week includes:

Sunday – homemade pizza with canned tomato sauce, local cheese, tons of parsley (since we have so much!)

Monday – buttermilk pancakes with maple breakfast sausage links and NYS maple syrup

Tuesday – whole wheat pasta with canned tomato sauce and lots of fresh parsley

Wednesday – Cheese omelets made with local eggs, cheese, swiss chard, fresh parsley

Thursday – Breaded chicken cutlets (made with homemade breadcrumbs), cauliflower mashed potatoes, carrots

Friday – Eat out