right now

right now

Sep 5, 2012

It may be hot still....

But it's fall in the kitchen!  We went apple picking and managed to get enough to put some up for winter.  The orchards around here are in dismal shape, most are rotting on the branch or just look awful, it made for a time consuming hunt to find the good ones!  All we get here due to our climate are Red and Golden Delicious, but I'll take what I can get and live vicariously through those of you who live far enough north to get the coveted Honeycrisps!

We ended up with 2 pecks, or what weighed in at home as right at about 20 lbs.  I would love more, but the condition of the apples along with the heat, humidity and mosquitoes had me quitting early!  Maybe another weekend I'll get more.

I finally relented and bought an apple peeler/corer/slicer.  

I spent the evening making apple pie filling to preserve.  Maybe my family will actually get more than one apple pie out of me this fall if all I have to do now is open a jar and dump it in!

This was only part of it, I had to do two batches or my poor burner would never be able to heat up that big pot!

Now that I have the peeler/slicer, I'm able to get the thin slices I prefer for pies.  I like my pies to have almost no syrup in them so they will pack into a pie nice and tightly with these.  The last time I made a pie I didn't have a slicer and tried to get them thin with a paring knife, ugh... never again!

Apple Pie in a Jar - bring it on, winter!

We were invited to a Labor Day cookout at a friend's house, so I also made an Apple Crisp, my first one ever.

It didn't end up looking like my grandma's, but I guess it turned out okay anyways - 

here is the pan an hour later... hmmm, of course it could have been awful and they were just being nice, they are nice people after all :)

a quick trip to Open House for Loch to meet his new teacher and see his desk -

then yesterday they were off!  Can you hear me shouting for joy?  I'm not being mean, they wanted back in school as much as I wanted them there.  This unbearable heat has made for some cooped up and bored children, and a frustrated mommy.  I love fall, always seems like time for a fresh start.

Marley took no time at all in getting back into her school bus waiting schedule.

I sat around in shock for a bit in the morning, then I figured I better get a plan together quick before they came home, so all I got done was jarring up some Apple Butter than had been going in the crock pot.  With that, all the apples are now dealt with.

Enjoyed a truly local summer dinner.  Although only the bread and onions here are mine, I was able to source the corn, potatoes, butter and pastured pork sausage from a local farm.  I didn't even realize it until we sat down to eat, but it certainly makes me smile to think that everything on my plate came from my own town.

Happy Back to School all you other mamas out there, enjoy!

Sep 3, 2012

Things I actually did get accomplished!

Since it's been so miserably hot in the garden this year and I seem to have thrown the towel in months ago, I've had more time to branch out beyond my usual harvest by taking advantage of the local farm stands.  Not the Farmer's "Market", those are usually disappointing to me, but the actual stands on the road in front of a farm.  Usually I go load up on strawberries and blueberries, and then by the time the farms have other offerings I am knee deep in my own garden and don't manage to get by the farm stands to pick up anything more than a few ears of corn for dinner.  This year was sooooooo different!  My tomatoes were all done and canned by mid-July, so I've started becoming a little more creative beyond my usual jars of salsa, tomatoes and jam on the shelves.

One day I took the kids and headed out to pick up some early corn, the last of the blueberry pickings, figs and peaches.

The "early" corn ended up being fantastic, so I went back the next morning and bought a bunch more and put the kids to work.  I ended up with some great jars of canned corn this year, another first (usually I freeze it).

THIS is why I don't bother with corn in my home garden...look at that pollination!

My first time for canning peaches... I know, I know... who doesn't can peaches?  I remember my grandma getting lots of peaches every year, but I never did care much for them and never tried myself.  I have found that I like the taste, but don't like the smell, anyone else have this problem?  Ok, maybe it's just me :)

I decided to get creative with some color by canning blueberries with peaches also -

Lather, Rinse, Repeat.  I am now addicted to stopping by the farm stands and canning just about anything they have going in abundance this year.  It's pretty time consuming, but it's fun and I'm learning so much about the market price of all the things I take for granted since I grow them myself.  Like WOW, the other day I saw tomatoes for 2.99/lb at the stand... considering how many hundreds of lbs I grow of those every year I have a lot of money on my shelves.  Too bad I can't pay the mortgage in tomatoes!  Apocalypse Currency, I say!

All this canning led me to want to clean my kitchen finally.  I'm not talking about the standard cleaning, I mean the stuff that is taller than I am, anyone else have this grime blindness?  Oh yes, the tops of the cabinets, yuck!  Even the top of the range hood :)  I will occasionally wipe down the underside and sides, but I can't see the top so who else will?  Apparently anyone over 5'2, that's who :)  I armed myself with my spray bottle and got to work, tops of fridge, cabinets, and oh, look! - tomato sauce all over the wall tile, wonder what canning year that was?   

Of course I'm about to splatter can apple pie filling this week, but the clean lasted at least a day or two.

The best part of cleaning and reorganizing is being able to look at what you have accomplished!

Other things I have been up to:

a beach in a bowl, just because I felt like it :)

I'm lucky that I have one farm stand 2 miles from the house, and many more only 10 minutes away, more goodies at the farm stand this week:  potatoes, honey, eggs, fresh butter:

all these trips to the farm stand made me want to knit one of those market bags, so I started knitting a little early this year -

I'll be honest, these bags are more form than function LOL, I prefer the empty box I keep in the car, but they are pretty cute :)

I was able to get an evening in kayaking with my "church ladies" :), so much fun - 

I wish we all had the time to do this more often!

Tomorrow is the first day of school, I can't wait!  If the weather breaks soon (we still have heat indexes at 100ยบ) I can be out there doing the big fall cleanup during the day without worrying about the boys burning down the house, and hopefully by October be doing some quilting!

For now, there is school sandwich bread to be made and frozen.  I wonder how long I can keep this up before I give in and buy bread again...(I only lasted about 2 months last year of dedicated sandwich bread making!)

I thought this was pretty cute the other day, the last I had heard that morning was that they hated each other -

I'm all for this "new kind of hatred" :)

I know I'm the last person to be issuing demands and challenges since I've been such a bad blogger lately, but since I put up the kitchen photo and it is that time of year, how 'bout you share a photo of where you do your canning and a photo of what you have stashed away so far?  I'll call this the "Medicine Cabinet" challenge, because you have to admit that for us like minded folks looking at photos of other's canning spaces and under-bed storage pantries is like other peoples' fascination with medicine cabinets!