Thursday, August 21, 2014

Easy Apple Butter

One of the great things in life are freshly made jams and jellies.  Last week a friend from church gave me some Gala apples from the tree in her yard.  I made a few fried apple pies, and then I decided that I wanted to make apple butter.  I have always like apple butter that you can get at street fairs like Apple Days in Weston, Mo.  but I had never made any myself.  A few clicks around Pinterest I found a simple recipe for a small batch of Apple Butter.

First you gotta soak the apples, well you don't have to, especially if you know where you got the apples.  I chose to soak mine just in case there were wormies, do a 3-1 ratio of water and plain white vinegar.

After the apples are soaked and measured, you need about 4 lbs of apples, I did a lot more than 4 lbs. I did close to a double batch, a few more than double.  Quarter the apples and take out any icky spots. Add 2 cups of water and 1 cup of apple cider vinegar per 4 lbs.  It seems like a LOT of liquid but it will come out in the end, trust me.

After the apples have cooked and are mushy, it is time to get out that fancy-schmancy food mill.  Do some stretches and start mashing!  This part takes some time, and you really have to use your muscles, but it can be done!  This is why it is so nice having a second set of hands available, you can take turns mashing and giving your muscles a break!

Once everything is milled measure out the pulp.  You need half a cup of sugar for every cup of apple pulp.  I decided to only finish out half the pulp this go round.  So I had 8 cups of pulp, and 4 cups of sugar.  Then add the spices, lemon zest, and lemon juice.  You will need zest and juice of one lemon for every 8 cups of pulp.

Then it's time to simmer it and stir for one to two hours.  Again, a good time to have a second set of hands so you can get a break from stirring.  We also decided to use a bar stool near the stove so we didn't have to stand the whole time.  My buddy Fergus joined me to keep me company while I was stirring.

Our batch didn't take the whole two hours to cook down, it was shortly after the first hour that we realized it was ready to go.  Thick and smooth!

Make sure you follow the steps for canning, you want to make sure everything is sterilized properly so the product can be shelf stable.  Again, having a second set of hands to help get the jars filled and into their hot water bath.

10 minutes is all you need! Pull them out of the water bath and listen for the pop!  Then they need to sit out for 24 hours before you move them around a lot.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

It'll kill you!

Looking back over the years I fondly remember a professor I had my senior year of college.  He was my Residential and Commercial Construction/Auto CAD teacher, and almost every day like clockwork, we as a class learned about something new that could kill you, from faulty buildings, to lightning, to radiation...and my favorite, Cast Iron pans.  Cast iron pans are heavy, but he didn't mean that getting beaned upside the head would do you in, it was the fact that the metal expanded, trapped food particles in the voids when it cools and then allowed those particles to rot before releasing them the next time you used your pan.  I believe that day we were discussing the properties of metals used in construction... This has not stopped me from using my various cast iron pans.  I LOVE my cast iron pans!!!  The more I use my pans for various dishes, the better I get at using them!!!  And having a cast iron scraper (or two) has made the total difference in how often I use them!!!
Front and back of a scraper, love this thing!

Last night I found a recipe for fried apple pies...of course I decided to use my small round cast iron skillet.

And they turned out soooooo good!!!

So this morning I got out some leftover meats and made up some breakfast bowls.  Start by baking your tater tots, or crispy crowns, or regular hashbrowns.  If you ever have leftover french fries from a restaurant, you can rough cut those up and throw them in the oven for this breakfast too.  I found tater tots in the freezer, so that's what I decided to use!  While those are baking chop up whatever meats you want to use.  I had some delicious ham from our neighbor, and some sausage links leftover.  There are two pans, because I didn't want sausage, and he didn't want garlic or basil.

You don't want to start warming the meat in your skillet(s) until your potatoes are almost done.  You can put whatever extras in that you want, mushrooms, onions, peppers, other veggies.  Sky is the limit, whatever you taste buds are wishing for!  Once the meat is warm and a bit browned, then push it off to the side and add your eggs.  He likes his yolks runny, I'm a scrambled or fried over hard girl.

While the eggs are cooking the tots should be done.  Divide them into the bowls (or one bowl if you are flying solo) and top with a cheese of your choice,  his is cheese slices, mine is an italian mix.

Once the eggs are done add them to the bowl, top with the meat/veggies, and of course more cheese!

Then dig in and enjoy!