Morning Meanderings… Can you?

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I woke up crying this morning.  That may be a bit TMI… but I do want to keep it real here and this site is not only my bookish release – it is also my record of what life is now like in this after Justin world.

With that said – the word for the week is CANNING.

With a couple of people offering me up the tomatoes they were not going to use themselves, I have found that the process of canning keeps my mind busy, and while doing so, I am listening to Gone With The Wind for book club  – so double duty.

Today I thought I would share with you for Weekend Cooking and Saturday Snapshot, a look into my canning world – and a recipe bonus.

I inherited a lot of tomatoes.

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And more than what is pictures as I went back to this one ladies house two times with 4 totes and filled them all each time.  So I have been making salsa (red and green), spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, sliced green tomatoes for friend green tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, basil tomato sauce… and enough cucumbers to make 12 jars of pickles.

One of my favorite recipes is the one for salsa.  I LOVE salsa. I love to make it fresh but I have discovered a salsa recipe that Al and I both devour with satisfaction. And that is what I will share with you today:

 

You will need:

14 cups of cored and peeled and then chopped up tomatoes

5 cups of dices onion

5 cups of diced green pepper

1/4 cup of fresh diced jalapeno peppers12

5 Tablespoons of cumin (I use the hotter one I find in our local grocery)

1/4 cup of Cilantro

1/4 cup of sugar

3 Tablespoons salt

fresh ground pepper to taste

1 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup lemon juice

 

Still all of this together and simmer in a large pot around 20 minutes.  Process into hot sanitized pint jars with a 1 teaspoon of lemon juice in the bottom of each jar.  Seal and place in a large boiling hot water canner for 15 minutes.  Be sure that all lids seal before storing (I leave them on my counter for a day to check them.)  Delicious with chips or over chicken.  Also makes a lovely gift.

 

Today… I continue.  I have tomatoes ready to make another batch of the basil tomato sauce, and apples ready to start apple butter.  Later today I am going to try my had at home made siracha which involved my peppers witting in a vinegar bath overnight.  We will see….

 

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On another note, Banned Book Week starts tomorrow… CRAZY how fast that came up. For those of you signed up to participate I will send out an email today, for the rest of you – its not to late to sign and be sure to participate too as there will be giveaways and a lot of fun!

Click for details
Click for details

 

Be sure to check out Weekend Cooking and Saturday Snapshot for other things cooking and happening around the world.

Weekend Cooking/Saturday Snapshot… Apples to Apple Butter

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My good friend over at Beth Fish Reads hosts this wonderful weekly meme where we can share what we are cooking.   Many times I have found a new recipe to try or even planned right then and there that what I read about was what I was making for dinner.

Today I thought I would share with you the fall tradition I have of making Apple Butter from our apple trees.  As there are lots of pictures, I am also placing this post under Saturday Snapshot (another excellent meme). The main connection I have to the whole process is this:

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I am the proud owner of my Great Grandmother’s chinois sieve and pestle.  This really is the selling point for making apple butter at home (well… that and all the apples).  I love taking these items out of storage.

 

And… I do have apple trees.

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Tree #1
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Tree #2

 

Tree #3
Tree #3

It is Tree #3 I have been working off of.  While I am waiting for the first frost before I pick the apples, Tree #3 is my crazy tree who never has an off year, is ALWAYS loaded down with apples and breaks it’s branches.  And currently had dropped a lot of apples to the ground so I have been snatching them up.

 

So I have been making apple butter.  I like it because it is fairly simple – no need to peel, seed, etc…  here is my basic recipe handed down and perhaps tweaked a little be me….

You will need…

canning jars – small jelly style up to a pint

canning lids and rings

large pot (canners are good)

apples (I use from our trees but any hard apple will do – Granny Smith apples work great!)

apple cider vinegar

sugar

cinnamon

cloves

all spice

vanilla (optional)

 

You will need 4 pounds of apples per batch.  I usually double the batches.  Cut off any bad spots on your apples and then cut in quarters and don’t worry about seeds, stem, core.  Weigh your apples and when you have the right amount bring to the stove and place in a large pot (the big canners work great for this).

 

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I have been cutting the apples outside because it has been so nice out. I use my picnic table, the big canner and my Great Grandmothers scale.

 

Once apples are in the large pot, add two cups of water and one cup of apple cider vinegar to every 4 pounds of apples.  Cover and bring to boil for twenty minutes.

After apples have cooked soft, with a slotted spoon, scoop the apples out of the liquid and place the sieve over a pot or bowl and then put apples into the *sieve.  Use the pestle to squish the good sauce out of the apples and keep doing this until all that remains in the sieve is the skin, seeds, and stems.  Continue until you have done this with all the cooked apples.  Then take a spatula and grab the excess sauce off the outside of the sieve.

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Add to your apples – 1/2 -3/4 cup sugar to each cup of apples.  I kind of do this to taste and you should too – some people like a sweeter product than others.  I am closer to the 1/2 cup sugar to each cup of apple sauce, sometimes less.  Add 2 tablespoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon all spice, 1 teaspoon, cloves, and 2 tablespoons vanilla to each 4 pound batch you are making.  Stir all of this well.

Over med low heat start to cook your apples using a wide bottomed pan.  The point of the cooking is to evaporate all the excess moisture our of the apples so the wider the pan bottom the faster this processes can be.  I use two large deep fry pans.  Cook this way for 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring often until apples are thick and if you place some on spoon and put in freezer for a minute the sauce does not get runny.

Sterilize your jars.  I put mine in a clean sink and pour hot boiling water over them.

Scoop apple butter (yup…. it is apple butter now!) into the jars leaving 1/4 inch space to the top.  Place a lid and ring over each jar.  and leave to cool on a towel on your counter top.  You should hear the lids pop as they seal.

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I know there are easier ways to make apple butter these days, but using the same process that my Great Grandmother used and knowing that her hands used that pestle as did my own mother brings me a little happiness. 

Apple butter is excellent on toast, and I like it with cottage cheese.  It is also good on pork chops and makes for a wonderful gift.

 

 

 

3aJust a reminder.. Banned Book Week starts September 27th and we have a lot of fun lined up for this annual event.  Click on the meme pic or the link above to find out more!

Weekend Cooking – A Little Different Take On This One

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My good friend over at Beth Fish Reads hosts this weekly meme for all of us to share what we are cooking and how to make it for yourself.  It is a great meme and I have picked up some tasty recipes over the years.

This week I made something a little different… It was easy, healthy….

and quite honestly for the dogs.

Yes, I made dog treats.

I had mentioned earlier this week that Mater had to go to the vet and had surgery.  While waiting in the lobby I was flipping through a magazine (vets have pet magazines as opposed to people magazines at our doctors, I find that awesome).  While doing this I found a recipe that was easy to make, low cost, and good for your dogs health and fur.

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Salmon Carrot Bone Oats

(originally published in Everyday Dog February 2015)

* a few tweets made by me from the original recipe

1 1/4 cup flour

1/2 cup quick oats

1/2 cup canned salmon

1/2 cup carrot (grated or shredded)

1 egg

2 tsp oil

3/4 cup water

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In a medium/large size bowl add the flour, oats, salmon, and carrot and stir together. Add the egg, oil, and water and mix well.  (*if dough is to stiff add water slowly until you have a workable dough)

Preheat oven to 250. Roll dough in to 2 inch size balls and place on a cookie sheet and bake for 3 hours.  (Yes I did this and the cookie never became hard, just perfectly baked).  It is said that you can also do this at 350 degrees and check the cookies after an hour in the oven.  You are looking for them to be dried out, a biscuit like quality.

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Results:  The dogs really enjoy them.  I found these to be easy to make and cost effective.  The only item that cost a bit was the salmon and even that wasn’t bad, I paid $2.19 for the canned salmon and used it is double the recipe.I store them in a Rubbermaid seal-able container.  Overall, these are a healthy treat cost less that $4 to make a double batch and made about 40 cookies.

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Stop by Beth Fish Reads to see what other people are cooking this weekend.  More than likely, they are making people food.  😉

Meatless All Day by Taunton Press

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Listing 45 Power Ingredients, Meatless All Day is the right cook book for the ages.  With more and more people going vegetarian, and many eating at least one or two vegetarian meals a week, it is good to have go to recipes that are not only meatless but tasty!

 

I find as I get older (did I just say that?) I enjoy having meatless meals a few times a week.  Perhaps as my palate has refined (HA!) I enjoy the textures and tastes more of pasta’s loaded with vegetables, big meaty mushrooms, egg dishes…

In Meatless All Day I found many mouth-watering dishes I am anxious to try.  The book is laid out nicely with pictures and recipes with ingredients I can easily obtain.  As I read this book while I was on vacation I can not wait to experiment with some of these mouth-watering recipes!

 

 

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Taunton Press (March 4, 2014)

 

This Is What You Just Put In Your Mouth by Patrick Di Justo

That is what you put in your mouth, Patrick Di Justo, Book Journey

At one time or another you have probably wondered what some of the ingredients listed on a package really are.  And, if you are like me, you soon forgot you were curious because a) the item is tasty good, b) who has time to look that stuff up, or more than likely c) do you really want to know?

Author Patrick Di Justo wrote the articles called What’s Inside for the magazine Wired.  He took his investigation of products to the CEO’s of companies (who may or may not get back to him with his questions).  He also researched deep into the archives on Google and followed products back to their beginning.

The result?  Patrick discovered some interesting things about the foods we put in our mouth.  Some are interesting, some are disgusting, some are funny… and some… involved a call (or two or three) to the FDA.

So what really does make that Cheese Whiz can eject that line of cheese product?  If I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter isn’t butter…. what is it?  And do we want to know what is in a Slim Jim or would we rather just enjoy the spicy snappy flavor and not think about it?

 

 

Now before you decide this book if this book is for you, hear me out.

This Is What You Put In Your Mouth is actually an interesting read and not necessarily as disgusting as you may initially think.  Sure there is talk about dies that are not good for us, and ingredients that are not only in chewing gum that can also inflate a tire…but for the most part you are not reading about to many gross and disgusting things.

The layout of the book is a product will be listed with its ingredients and a description laid out of what the ingredients are.  Occasionally Patrick will add his own funny take on an ingredient.  Then, there will be a “backstory”.  This is where Patrick shares what steps he took on this product to track down the makers for more information.  AT first they would be excited to hear that their product would be featured in a magazine.  That is, until they read the magazine and seen what Patrick really wrote about.  The cooperation of the company or not did not change the fact that Patrick would write about it.

Not everything in the book is for eating.  Patrick also talks about cleaning products, fire starter logs and gasoline.

Here is a fun little video – see below to get what is going on here.


 

This video is actually about one of the products that Patrick had written about (and he talks about in the book about this product, and this video).  What happened was PBS ran a segment called What’s Inside.  Watch between 1:30 and 1:33 on the video.  You will see there is a product on the table that Chris does not talk about.  At the end of the video there are clearly 10 items on the table by Chris only talks about 9 of them.  The item that was deleted off the video (cut during those three seconds) was sexual lubricant.  PBS did not want this talked about on air so it was cut before the show aired.

While the book was interesting, it is more of a book you want to skim and look for items you are interested in knowing more about than trying to read like a regular book.

I will be adding this to Weekend Cooking as this post is about food.  Sort of.  😉

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  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press (February 3, 2015)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC

 

 

 

 

Morning Meanderings…. Oh The FOOD!

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As you probably know (from all the gushing over here, on Facebook, etc…) my husband and I along with friends went on a 17 day trip to Australia and New Zealand earlier this month.  We spent three days in Sydney before we boarded our Cruise ship for the rest of our journey.

This post is for Weekend Cooking and for Saturday Snapshot and it is all about FOOD.  Food is really part of the experience and my rule for traveling is that we can never eat at a place that I could eat at around where I live.  I love new food experiences!

Disclaimer:  Not all food pictured is mine (thank goodness!) I took pictures of the food that my hubby as well as our friends were eating too.

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While in Sydney, we stopped at a little pub for lunch.  I ordered a burger that was to come with “hot chips” and I was very curious about these chips.  Turns out, chips are french fries.  Now I am not a huge fan of thicker french fries, I like the crispy fresh thinner ones with that salty yum flavor.  These were DELICIOUS.  I became a big fan fast of the hot chips of Australia and New Zealand.

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We were in Sydney 3 days and at one stop enjoyed a Japanese Cuisine meal.  The four of us girls were really excited about this, however the two guys, Ray and Al were not… thinking it was going to be like a china buffet.  The boys were converted quickly.  The food was incredible and Al (my hubby) said he would stop anytime that he sees Japanese noodles.

 

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At our hotel was a very nice restaurant and the above picture if from their display window.  We never had a chance to eat there, we were too busy out exploring.

 

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I wish I had taken better notes, but I did not.  While in Sydney we took an all day trip to go and see some of the sights.  We stopped at a quaint little town where we had a change to grab a bite to eat.  We walked into this corner cafe that displayed the above window.  I chose a delicious sandwich pictured below:

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On to the cruise….

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If you have ever taken a cruise, you know there is a lot of food.  There was a buffet area that was open all the time.  A pizza place, hamburger and hotdog spot, your main dining area, a steak house, Italian restaurant, and a Sushi restaurant.  The food, other than the steakhouse, Italian, and Sushi, were all included in your cruise cost so knock yourself out.  🙂  The above picture is my dinner on the first night we ate in our dining room.  This is a chicken Alfredo in a Parmesan shell.  I know right?  I dont even want to think about that calories in that mouth watering, buttery yummy concoction.

 

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Al and I ate in the steak house twice.  Once with our whole group, and then once just the two of us, a gift from our Travel Agent.  The steak house menu gave you choices of appetizers, soups and salads, your main dish with choice of sides and of course dessert.  Everything came with dessert.  Below is one of the appetizers I had, a crab cake with shrimp on top.  This was also the night I had the creme brulee.  I was so full!

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On one of last excursions we went to Christchurch in New Zealand.  We had heard that they had amazing fish and chips (there’s that chips word again!).  We stopped at three different fish and chips places and all three were closed or out of business.  By mid afternoon we were pretty hungry and finally found a nice looking pub style restaurant.  (I love these pubs you can find some of the best food there!)

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I ordered a chicken sandwich which I was sold on because it came with avocado.  I also ordered for all of us, the nacho’s as us girls had been craving nachos but unable to find them anywhere in Australia or New Zealand.  Wendy ordered for us to all try the potato wedges.

 

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My sandwich was good, but the nacho’s and potato wedges were excellent.  Each had a tasty chili sauce that I would love to try to duplicate.  The portions were HUGE, but all 6 of us were able to get our fill of these delicious treats.

1I of course have to talk about the deserts on the cruise ship.  They were always beautiful and you just had to try them… no matter how full you already were.  Below are pictures of some of the deserts we experienced on the cruise.  Again – note, these are not all mine 🙂

 

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If I were to mention any favorite of the entire trip it would have to be the Japanese Noodles we had in Sydney, the chicken Alfredo in the Parmesan bowl,  and the nachos at the pub in Christchurch.

This is why I have been on my treadmill almost every day since we have returned.  Ha!  🙂

 

Do you have a favorite that you see here?

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend Cooking: Pumpkin Butter

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Recently I had felt nostalgic for making apple butter.  We have many apple trees in our yard and usually each fall I post pictures on Facebook for people to come and get them and they come in droves to get buckets of apples.  I used to make apple butter with my mom and she had learned from my great-grandmother.  I have all of grandmothers original tools she used to do this.  This year, after a big storm took out most of the apples – I decided I was going to make the butter again…

but this post is not about that. 😉

WHILE looking on-line for a refresher course on how to make the apple butter… I came across Pumpkin Butter.  I mean seriously could that sound more delicious of more Fall?  I did make the apple butter….and it is fantastic…

and then I bought a pumpkin…

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Here is what you need:

One Pumpkin (you can use pumpkin puree from the store but I wanted to go completely from scratch)

sugar

ginger

cinnamon

nutmeg

Tools:

Crock Pot

A food mill (I use my grandma’s)

 

Take your pumpkin and cut up into chucks with the hard outside shell taken off.

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Place in a large pot covered in water and cook on high until the pumpkin is soft.  I used my Grandmothers food mill to puree it went in to the crock pot but I bet you could use a potato masher as well.

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Once your pumpkin is in the crock pot I added the spices to taste.  I have no exact measurements as it depends on your pumpkin size.  I added cinnamon, and about a half cup of sugar, nutmeg and ginger.  With crock pot on low, let it cook 8 to 10 hours, or to desired thickness.  Add more spice if needed according to your taste as it cooks.

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Pour into jars or gift containers.

The Butters... left: pumpkin butter, right:  Apple Butter
The Butters… left: pumpkin butter, right: Apple Butter

***Note:  Pumpkin Butter is not recommended to hot water seal your jars.  The acids in the pumpkin do not allow for safe sealing (I know right?  This was news to me too!) You can keep it safely in your refrigerator up to three weeks, or you can freeze it and take it out as you need it.

 

Final thoughts:  I loved the taste and texture.  While the canning note was a surprise (I did not know you could not seal it until I had made it) I put in refrigerator and gave away to friends over the next few days.  When I do it again – and I will, I will put the jars back in the box they came in and freeze.  If you leave an inch head room in the jar for expansion as it freezes, the jars are ok to freeze in.

Pumpkin butter is delicious on toast, but it is also good in yogurt, and on pancakes.

I will be linking this one up to Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads.  Go and see what others are cooking this weekend 🙂

 

What am I listening to while cooking this weekend?  Ocean Beach by Wendy Wax... a fun womens literature style listen. 🙂