Monday, November 25, 2013

Now That's a Pie

My mom says, "I found a recipe for a Candy Apple Pie. Doesn't that sound good?"

I say, "Um, yeah!"

Then she bakes it for us. Twice.

Then we have friends coming over and I bake it.

I'd say it's a keeper. I didn't even get a picture before I cut into, which is a shame because it was a really pretty pie.

Candy Apple Pie
(Maybe from Lancaster Farming? Maybe from a decade ago?)

6 c. thinly sliced, peeled baking apples (that's about 4 large ones; don't be afraid to fill it up!)
2 Tbsp. lime juice (optional...I left it out)
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
Pastry for double-crust pie (9")
2 Tbsp. butter

1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. heavy cream
1/2 c. chopped pecans

In a large bowl, toss apples with lime juice (if using). Combing dry ingredients; add to the apples and toss lightly. Place bottom pastry in a 9" pie plate; fill with apple mixture. Dot with butter. Cover with top crust. Flute edges high; cut steam vents. Bake at 400˚ for 40-45 minutes.

Meanwhile, for topping, melt butter in a small saucepan. Stir in brown sugar and cream. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in pecans. Pour over top crust. Return to the oven for 3 to 4 minutes or until bubbly. Serve warm Yields 8 servings.

So if you were looking for an idea for a Thanksgiving dessert, this one would fit the bill. And don't be afraid to whip up the rest of your container of heavy cream with a little vanilla and powdered sugar and put some of that on top of the pie too. Just an idea...

Friday, November 22, 2013

Cocoa Power

My brother recently bought a house, and as he and his girlfriend settle in, I wanted to do a little something for them. Since they are still making lots of decisions about what they want for the house, I wasn't quite sure what. Until I saw this recipe for homemade chocolate syrup on the blog of a friend while trolling some of her older posts. Since they are both fans of chocolate milk and chocolate syrup on ice cream, it seemed like a sweet and simple gift to celebrate their new home.

The house smelled divine while Colter and I stirred it up, and he asked questions the whole time. When I told him that we were using cocoa powder, he had to taste it by itself and proceeded to call is cocoa "power." He might be onto something there, as it is often a bit of chocolate that gets me through the afternoon. (Since gin and tonics are discouraged before 5 or while nursing an infant.)

Perhaps the most fun (besides eating the leftover syrup that didn't fit in the jar) was making a little label for it. Oh I do love a five-minute project, especially when winging it works out.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Unexpected Success

As we canned our applesauce, we drained off some of the liquid that cooks out of the apples. Other years my mom had mentioned that apple jelly could be made from this, but usually we are so done with canning after a day of applesauce that we don't bother. This year Keith wanted to give it a try.

We had about 3 quarts of the apple liquid, which was much thicker and sweeter than apple juice. I read over the recipe for apple jelly in my canning book, and did the calculations to triple the recipe. But that meant I would be using over 10 cups of sugar. Considering the recipe called for apple juice, and what I had was much more concentrated, I opted to cut the sugar in half. Which the book says is a major no-no.

As Keith and I took turns stirring the pot for the next hour, waiting for the mixture to gel, I envisioned having to call this post "Apple Fail." But, I figured mostly we wanted the jelly to mix into yogurt and oatmeal, so even if it was runny it would be ok.

At the one hour mark, I was tired of stirring and expecting Elliott to be up from his nap any moment and figured it was now-or-never to get it into jars and can it. Much to my delight, as I pulled it from the heat and started to ladle the jelly into jars, it thickened up. It might actually be a bit too thick really, as we have found it is a little hard to spread on toast.

But gosh it's pretty, isn't it?

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Days Are Long

"The days are long, but the years are short."

Or so I've heard.

Apparently Keith likes to whip out the camera whenever I try to catch a moment's rest. Which usually ends up not being all that restful, but I'll soak up snuggling with my boys while they still let me.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Criss Cross Applesauce

One of our yearly endeavors is to make and can applesauce. Usually, we load up our share of jars, lids, and rings and head to my parents' house. This year, with the addition of Elliott, my mom suggested that she would come to us. It certainly simplified things on our end, since nap schedules were easier to keep.

With three adults to work our way through about two bushels of apples, the job went quite smoothly, even if the last canner of jars didn't go on until after 8:00 pm.

Apples after they cooked down and were soft...

Running them through the squeezo...

Cranky (haha) Keith...

Our share of the applesauce was 21 quarts in jars, plus another quart or so in the freezer and some baby food. My mom took home 10 pints.

One of the reasons the process took so long (besides taking care of the kiddos) was that we had a variety of apples types and in trying to keep the flavor consistent, we wanted to run all the apples through the squeezo and mix the batches before canning it. We did end up doing one canner before all the apples were through, simply because we were out of room in the pots and on the counter and needed to make some space to keep working. The one variety was so very pink, while others made more of a yellow sauce, so mixing them all together helped to make everything a nice pinkish color. Mixing the varieties, with their different levels of tartness, also allowed us to skip adding any sugar. Other years we have added a bit, maybe about a cup of sugar per 8-10 quart batch, but we all agreed we didn't need to this time. And the baby food that I froze in ice cube trays is without sugar as well. I spooned that out of the first batch through the squeezo, knowing I didn't want sugar added but not knowing yet that none of it would get sugar this year.

We have a drawer full of apples in the fridge but we haven't been able to help ourselves – we've already dipped into our supply of applesauce.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Go Fly a Kite

It is amazing how every once in awhile, I learn something new about Keith, despite having been together for nearly nine years now.

Two weekends ago, I learned that he had never flown a kite. Had I known that ahead of time, I would have taken pictures of him doing it instead of him taking pictures of Colter and I.

This all came about because of Curious George and his kite. Colter is really into George, and wanted to fly a kite. Keith got very ambitious and tried to build the ubiquitous storybook kite with wood and newspapers, only to have it fall apart when he tried to toss it up into the air. So when my mom came down to help with Elliott, she brought along one of my kites that was still stashed in a closet back home. A beautiful, breezy Sunday morning, and we were ready to put it up.

Colter was not as into as we might have hoped (he was probably more excited to watch the homemade one smash to pieces) but it was still fun. And Keith can cross something off his bucket list.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Laundry Room Update

Hmmm....where did we leave off with the laundry room? I think the last you saw it, the trim had been painted and we were making a final decision on a red for the walls.

Well, the room is red now. Pretty darn close to 49ers red. Maybe Keith will be inspired to do some laundry now? (Actually, laundry is the one household chore I really don't mind at all. Of course, I have had a nice break from cloth diapers so that might be why...) This actually all got done pre-baby, but getting a post together somehow got pushed off. Huh.

We swapped out the mismatched, off-white outlets and light switches for new, clean white ones and what a difference a couple dollar fix makes! We also added new hooks under the shelf and a larger hook to hold the towel above the sink.

Obviously still in need of a shoe solution...but don't they look almost artsy against that bright red wall?

We are planning on adding a shelf above the washer and dryer, though not as high as the other shelf. I want to be able to reach it easily while standing in front of the washer.

Other finishing touches involve the trim around the ceiling, blinds, a better solution for our recycling bins, a mirror above the sink and sewing a "skirt" for around the utility sink. Oh, and the storage bench I desperately want. And eventually a new floor, though that is barely even on our project radar at the moment. I, for one, am just happy to have this room fully functional and seriously spruced up, even though it has a ways to go yet.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween Highlights

Trick-or-treating in our town happens a week ahead of time, so last Wednesday we headed out for the downtown trick-or-treat night, when Main Street is shut down and many of the stores hand out candy. Colter was actually very excited to wear his lobster costume, having been allowed to run around the house in it a few days ahead of time.

Ok, so he doesn't look so excited but he was! He did a great job trick-or-treating and seemed to get the hang of it. But next year we are going to have to train him to go for the Reese's cups and Snickers, not the lollipops!

And yes, I am wearing a lobster bib while walking around with my little crustacean.

Check out this tank that someone built to go with these soldiers. Colter wanted to ride it. It actually drove down the street.

Bulldozer for the win! Those are toilet paper rolls to make the tracks. Might have to steal this idea in a couple years.

Back home, he was allowed one treat. Tough decisions. He went for a pack of fruit snacks.

Elliott was a tiny bear, because it was cold and that was the warmest sleeper on hand. We just lucked out that it had ears and we could pass it off as a costume of sorts.

The next night was neighborhood trick-or-treating, so while Keith stayed home to hand out candy, we dropped by two of the neighbors' houses.

This time I just wrapped Elliott in a yellow blanket and gave him a yellow hat and passed him off as the butter that comes with a lobster meal.

We also trick-or-treated in Keith's parents' neighborhood on Halloween night. I stayed back at their house with Elliott while Keith and his mom took Colter to a few houses. It was rainy and dark and we forgot the camera, but Colter was excited to go trick-or-treating with Grammy.
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