Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wassail Apples

Today we are canning Wassail Apples. This is a recipe that I came up with as a healthier alternative to Spiced Apple Rings which I like, but not the corn syrup content. They cause one problem (diluting the appley-ness by using water) and then "fix" the problem by adding lots of corn syrup. Yuck! My recipe is healthier and yummy besides.
Wassail Apples
*Bring to a boil 2 quarts of water, 1.5 cups white sugar, 1.5 cups brown sugar, 1 tablespoon cinnamon and a pinch of cloves (optional)
*Fill quart canning jars with apples (I like Empires) cut in eighths or twelths (apple rings waste space and so require more cider to fill the jars)
*Add cider to apples, leaving 1/2" head space
*Can for 30 minutes in a boiling water bath canner
These are a tasty compliment to ham or sausage and are delectable atop pancakes or waffles with whipped cream!

We are making pulled pork sandwiches for supper tonight and the whole house smells good. It's chilly today so the fire is going in the living room, adding the wood smoke smell to the sweet scent of the spiced apples and spicy smell of the pork. Mmm!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Of commanding generals and tasty cakes

Just a couple of quick things on this brisk Saturday evening. After a few years of being dogless we amended that situation and brought this

home today. Our neighbors raise Black Labs to sell but have a few from a recent litter that didn't sell due to the economy. We bartered a grassfed Tamworth ham for him, a good deal I think! The boys now have a hunting dog and the girls have a pet. He is fairly calm and easy going, even when Asa bit him. :-) I have to protect the dog from the baby, ha ha. We haven't settled on a name just yet, but I think it will be either Ashby or Patton.

In other news we are celebrating Tabitha's birthday this weekend. No pictures other than her cake which is *so* good. It tastes like Autumn should taste.

Pumpkin Spice and Pecan Cake

  1. 1 box of yellow cake mix

  2. 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (I didn't have this so I used cinnamon, ginger and cloves until it tasted good)

  3. 2/3 cup pureed pumpkin

  4. 1/4 soft butter

  5. 3 large eggs

  6. 1 cup ground pecans

  7. 2/3 cup water

Mix ingredients and bake at 350 in a buttered and floured bundt pan until done. When cool frost with:

Honey and Spice Buttercream

  1. 1/2 teaspoon unflavored knox gelatin

  2. 1/4 cup honey

  3. 1/4 cup sugar

  4. 1/4 teaspoon salt

  5. 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  6. 14 soft tablespoons butter

Combine gelatin with 1 tablespoon of water and let set for 10 minutes. Bring honey, sugar and 1 tablespoon water to boil and then simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool and then stir a tablespoon or so of honey mix into the gelatin water, mix well and then dump back into the rest of the honey mixture. Add salt and cinnamon and beat until fluffy, add the butter 2 tablespoons at a time while beating, stir in vanilla and use immediately.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Perry Cider

We reached another Fall milestone last week when we pressed apples for the first and only time. Actually, we have "perry cider" not just plain cider this year. Our neighbor brought over 4 bushels of pears which we pressed along with the apples (pressed pears being perry) and the yield was 67 gallons! We use the community press here in our community and the cost for the 67 gallons was $43, over half of that charge was the plastic gallon jugs that we brought it home in, the actual pressing charge is a pittance. I was very pleased with such abundance and as of Sunday evening we have it all canned. A few jugs got a bit of a "nip" to them, the children love this stuff, it fizzes like pop and Sunday morning they were drinking it for breakfast. :-D I have so many half gallon jars full and it makes a very striking sight, but our camera isn't feeling up to par and doesn't want to take any pictures. A have a few of the jugs set aside for vinegar making; hopefully the camera will straighten up before then so I can take pictures step by step. Making vinegar is an important part of homestead life and being able to home manufacture it will be a boon for food preservation should very hard economic times become a reality.
Saturday was my 40th birthday and we spent it rearranging the living room and moving chicken fence in anticipation of getting 30 more layers. In the Winter we bring the dining room table and benches into the living room so that we can eat where it's warmer, it makes a snug fit but it is also nice to have all evening activities center in one room, I like being all together. Our neighbor is giving us their 30 laying hens as they no longer want them so I will be raiding the recipe books for recipes heavy on eggs!
Sewing and knitting are carrying on as usual, but I don't really want to write about something that I can't take pictures of. I hope that situation will rectify itself before long.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


So, today is my birthday, the big four-oh. 40 in the abstract seems, oh I don't know, old, but I don't feel the least bit decrepit. We are "celebrating" by rearranging the living room to try to accommodate the living room furniture and the dining room table. We eat and live in the same room throughout the winter, it's much warmer in here by the stove. :-) We got apples pressed at the community press on Thursday and got 67 gallons of Perry Cider, that's pear cider and apple cider in case you've never experienced the sweet deliciousness that is the combination of these 2 fruits pressed together. It is *so* good! We are trying to get it into half gallon jars before it turns, I don't like nipping cider but the canning is d-r-a-g-g-i-n-g so slowly. Mr. G spent the day trying to fix the hot water tank so that we can enjoy the privilege of hot running water in the house. Our neighbor is giving us 30 laying hens on Monday so we're making shift to have a suitable place for them. I have been sewing and knitting and really want to get a post finished about that aspect of my life, but Autumn is unraveling quickly and there is so much to do before the snow really flies. It's at moments like this when I think that if I really got my act together for once I might not find myself continually swamped. (For those deluded souls that think that I really have my ducks in a row, well, I won't laugh in your face but I will snicker about it). I am the Queen of "fly by the seat of your pants", I like orderliness but it eludes me, though I confess that I don't stalk it very earnestly either. So, for all of you "management" types out there, my hat's off to you. I think it's easy on blogger to read about somebody's life and get a skewed picture of how wonderful or how whatever they are but really, my life is nothing special. I have, like, 4 nifty subjects in my life that are blog worthy. I just don't write about the 96 mundane/crappy/depressing subjects that are part and parcel of my life.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Depressing post

I don't have an upbeat post today, it hasn't been an upbeat weekend so you must bear with this somewhat depressing missive. We went to a thrift store on Saturday in the Big City, it is further away but generally has a better selection of wool coats. I wanted to cannibalize an adult coat to make a little coat for Asa that coordinated with his knit cap that is finished but I didn't want to post about until I had the coat done. I couldn't find anything suitable though, so that was a wasted trip. Outside the door was a man begging for money for food, he said he was a diabetic and hadn't eaten in two days. I don't know about that, but I do know that he's asking and I believe that if you have something, then you have enough to share. Mr. G of course gave him some money. We don't see that sort of situation here in Little Town but we do in the city more and more often. I feel so sorry for the people that have given up hope. Where will they turn if no one can help them?

Mr. G has been underemployed for a long while and his hours keep getting cut, we now are making what he made in 1990 but with 11 people to support on it. It's very hard to say the least. Despite his degree he can't find a job in his field and he is basically applying for any type of work. We went today so he could apply at a pallet shop, they are hiring 5 people and paying $8.50 an hour. The man interviewed him on the spot and said he would stop taking applications when he had interviewed 100 men, he expected that to happen later today at the rate people were flocking in. 100 men in a day, all desperate enough to take a $8.50 job. The interviewer said an 80 year old man had come in needing work. It just breaks my heart, for us and for them. I am thankful that at least we have the ability to meet many of our own needs, we are shielded from a lot by our lifestyle.