Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Apple Butter Recipe

Apples are on sale again!! Here's the recipe I used last year for Crock Pot Applebutter.

CROCK POT APPLE BUTTER

Put 3 quarts of apples, sliced thin, in a crock pot and cook overnight on high. Next morning, add 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 3 cups sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cloves. Cook all day on low. Tastes like old-fashioned apple butter that is cooked in copper kettle.

Here's the one I found for apple pie filling:

APPLE PIE FILLING

Ingredients:
4 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons salt

10 cups water
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 drops yellow food coloring
6 pounds apples

Directions:
1. In a large pan, mix sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add salt and water and mix well. Bring to a boil and cook until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and add lemon juice and food coloring.
2. Sterilize canning jars, lids and rings by boiling them in a large pot of water.
3. Peel, core, and slice apples. Pack the sliced apples into hot canning jars, leaving a 1/2 inch headspace.
4. Fill jars with hot syrup, and gently remove air bubbles with a knife.
5. Put lids on and process in a water bath canner for 20 minutes.

I bought 18 pounds of apples tonight, so I have to decide whether I want to make apple pie filling, apple butter, or applesauce...decisions, decisions, decisions!

Monday, September 28, 2009

GOODBYE PAPER TOWELS!!

I finally did it!! We've not used paper towels in two weeks, AND I'm finally using all those cloth napkins I've purchased over the years! Check out my new setup:



Ummmhmmmm...that's my paper towel substitute there on the left...looks like a bouquet of fabric, no? Here, take a closer look:



A dear friend of mine over at It Began in Camp 4 once said that sustainable living is much more about frugality for her than anything else...living a sustainable lifestyle saves you $$$$$!! That really resonated with me in many ways. I would like to say that ditching the paper towels was born out of my responsibility to conserve natural resources and all that jazz....but it was really about cash. I hated that we used the towels once then tossed them and we were going through WAY too many rolls each week. It was like throwing $ straight into the trashcan...what a waste.

Of course, we do have to wash these, but I just throw them in with pretty much any load of clothes and they don't really add any bulk to a load...then they hang to dry and get rolled back up and go right back into the basket! I dreaded making this change, but it was soo much easier than I'd expected. Try it....you might like it!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Both the squirrels and I...

As I was organizing the freezer last night, I couldn't help but think of how this must be how a squirrel feels...I was so proud of what we've accomplished this year in producing some of our own food and preserving it! I've already bragged on the canned goods, but now it's time for the freezer to show off! :-)

Since we didn't have a pressure canner until just recently, the veggies had to be frozen, thus the huge amount of black-eyed peas in the freezer. I would have preferred to can them and I'm seriously considering thawing them to can sometime soon. Anyway, without further adieu:

Black-eyed peas - 17 bags (From our garden and the university's community gardens)
Summer Squash - 7 bags (Again, from our garden and the university garden)
Mashed Potatoes - 4 family serving sized bags (from our garden...we've already eaten 4 servings /blush/)
Onions - 8 bags chopped and ready for cooking (from our garden)
English Peas - 2 bags (from our garden...hoping to grow more next year)
Green Beans - 2 bags (from our garden...I think I've decided that bush beans grow much better here, so that'll be our plan next spring)
Carrots - 7 bags (and more in the garden)
Corn on the Cob - 5 bags with 5-6 ears per bag (from a farmer's stand on the way to my parent's house...about 45 miles away)
Okra & Squash for Frying - 6 huge, stuffed, gallon sized bags with more okra coming in every day!
Eggs - 5 dozen frozen in ice cube trays for winter baking (from our hens)

Almost all of this is sealed in Food Saver bags to keep freezer burn to a minimum.

Homestead Man and I set a goal this morning to have a small pen ready for two calves by the end of the weekend. I'm hoping that the sale of the first calf with pay for the processing of the second calf into beef to fill our meat freezer...but then that is a long-term goal, isn't it?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I (heart) old stuff...



This pic is of a few things we found out on our land. I'm not sure what they are, but I love finding pieces of Willow Run's past life. We know it was part of a larger parcel of land that was a dairy before the previous owner purchased it, but we've also found evidence that it was once an old homestead (a filled in tornado shelter). Any ideas about what these items were? The one that looks like a key of some sort is threaded on the end. I'd love to hear everyone's input.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Special Delivery!!

When I arrived home from work yesterday afternoon...there was a package waiting by the door. Inside the package was a very exciting paper bag...here, see for yourself...



Of course, I couldn't wait to pull out the bulbs and take a look. I can't wait to plant them!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Wordless Sunday





Okay...maybe not wordless, but definitely LESS WORDS! In other news, we've had 3 inches of rain this weekend...nice, slow, steady rain! Boy, did we need it! I'm really hoping our ponds out at Willow Run caught lots of this glorious water from heaven!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Fair Results Are In...



What an exciting fair we've had this year! Last night, we trucked two hens and a rabbit up to the fairgrounds to compete. Both Amelia (New Hampshire Red) and Laverne (Rhode Island Red) competed in the American Singles division. Amelia took the second place ribbon while Laverne got Reserve Champion and Best of Breed and went on to compete in for the Grand Champion. Imagine the ruckus this will create in the coop...what with Amelia being our Alpha Hen and all...Laverne may stage a coup tonight in the coop!! Okay...back to the story...it seemed like the Grand Champion judging went on FOREVER, but in the end, Laverne took Reserve Grand Champion! The judge came over and told us what a nice hen she was and that she'd have taken Grand Champion easily if she hadn't been competing against a rooster. We were so proud of our girls!

When it was time for Ginger, our Mini Rex Rabbit, to take the show table, she won Best of Breed as well!

We also checked on my Canned Goods to see if anything had placed. You may remember that I entered 7 items...and 5 of them placed! I really was shocked since this is only our second year canning and our first year to participate in the fair, I had really hoped that ONE would place! (These are still at the fair on display until Friday...I'll get some good pics of the jars and the ribbons when we can bring them home!)

Here's the rundown:

First Place:
Applesauce
Watermelon Rind Preserves

Second Place:
Peach Butter
Apple Peel Jelly
Dill Pickles


In addition to all our ribbons and plaques, we will get a check for around $13...enough to buy several sacks of feed for the chickens!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Feelin' GOOD!



I pulled all the jars out of the pantry to reorganize and lined them all up on the table...take a look!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Willow Run

We've officially named our 22 acres of land...we're calling it "Willow Run." Here's a picture of the brand we've designed!



In other news, the County Fair is next week and we're preparing some entries! We'll be entering:

Amelia - Buff Orpington Hen
Laverne - Rhode Island Red Hen
Ginger - Mini Rex Rabbit
Applesauce
Apple Butter
Pickles
Apple Peel Jelly
Watermelon Rind Preserves
Peach Butter

Send some blue ribbon vibes our way!! My canned goods have to be entered Tuesday and the poultry and rabbits will be entered and judged on Wednesday night.
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