Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wassail Apples

Today we are canning Wassail Apples. This is a recipe that I came up with as a healthier alternative to Spiced Apple Rings which I like, but not the corn syrup content. They cause one problem (diluting the appley-ness by using water) and then "fix" the problem by adding lots of corn syrup. Yuck! My recipe is healthier and yummy besides.
Wassail Apples
*Bring to a boil 2 quarts of water, 1.5 cups white sugar, 1.5 cups brown sugar, 1 tablespoon cinnamon and a pinch of cloves (optional)
*Fill quart canning jars with apples (I like Empires) cut in eighths or twelths (apple rings waste space and so require more cider to fill the jars)
*Add cider to apples, leaving 1/2" head space
*Can for 30 minutes in a boiling water bath canner
These are a tasty compliment to ham or sausage and are delectable atop pancakes or waffles with whipped cream!

We are making pulled pork sandwiches for supper tonight and the whole house smells good. It's chilly today so the fire is going in the living room, adding the wood smoke smell to the sweet scent of the spiced apples and spicy smell of the pork. Mmm!

Monday, October 25, 2010

This is for you Ma

Ma, over at Abundant Life Farm (if you want to read about other big, homesteading, midwifing, gardening, canning, blogging type women then head on over and be inspired) asked the meme question about "how do I manage". After I got done laughing at the very notion of me managing anything, I decided to sober up and type up an answer. OK, short answer: I'm a rotten manager. Truly. It's one of my worst qualities. Long answer would run something along the lines of: I don't know any big families who *truly* do it all, I think that's a sham that we use to beat ourselves up with. We think maybe so-and-so is the good example of the Proverbs 31 ideal, while we must content ourselves to have our life serve as a horrible warning. That's me, the horrible warning. :-) I think no matter who you are, how many children you have, whether you work or not (as if I don't work???), whatever, something has to slide. We all have priorities; maybe yours aren't homemade clothes, or homecooked food, but you have other things that are really important to you so the lesser things slide. That's how I find it anyway. My friend Anna has an immaculate house, but she rarely if ever reads to or plays with her little ones. Anna likes it, but *I* wouldn't, so I accept chaos in order to do the things that I think a good Mommy does. I think if we lived in a bigger house, actually had closets or storage space, etc I might do a little better. We generally have stuff everywhere. I'm bad at putting things where they go, but Katie is really good at it and I'm so thankful that I have her. She's been forbidden to marry btw. :-)
We get school done most days, people get fed and washed up before bed, chores get done, I make sure that I have all children present and accounted for and that's a good day. Anything else is icing on the cake. I must confess to often feeling like a homemaking failure and wishing that somebody who manages better would give me lessons. I tried MOTH but I despise the regimentation, I want a guideline not a bunch of rules.
I'm sorry for such a non-answer but honestly, it's the best I can do.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Of commanding generals and tasty cakes

Just a couple of quick things on this brisk Saturday evening. After a few years of being dogless we amended that situation and brought this

home today. Our neighbors raise Black Labs to sell but have a few from a recent litter that didn't sell due to the economy. We bartered a grassfed Tamworth ham for him, a good deal I think! The boys now have a hunting dog and the girls have a pet. He is fairly calm and easy going, even when Asa bit him. :-) I have to protect the dog from the baby, ha ha. We haven't settled on a name just yet, but I think it will be either Ashby or Patton.

In other news we are celebrating Tabitha's birthday this weekend. No pictures other than her cake which is *so* good. It tastes like Autumn should taste.

Pumpkin Spice and Pecan Cake

  1. 1 box of yellow cake mix

  2. 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (I didn't have this so I used cinnamon, ginger and cloves until it tasted good)

  3. 2/3 cup pureed pumpkin

  4. 1/4 soft butter

  5. 3 large eggs

  6. 1 cup ground pecans

  7. 2/3 cup water

Mix ingredients and bake at 350 in a buttered and floured bundt pan until done. When cool frost with:

Honey and Spice Buttercream

  1. 1/2 teaspoon unflavored knox gelatin

  2. 1/4 cup honey

  3. 1/4 cup sugar

  4. 1/4 teaspoon salt

  5. 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  6. 14 soft tablespoons butter

Combine gelatin with 1 tablespoon of water and let set for 10 minutes. Bring honey, sugar and 1 tablespoon water to boil and then simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool and then stir a tablespoon or so of honey mix into the gelatin water, mix well and then dump back into the rest of the honey mixture. Add salt and cinnamon and beat until fluffy, add the butter 2 tablespoons at a time while beating, stir in vanilla and use immediately.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Perry Cider

We reached another Fall milestone last week when we pressed apples for the first and only time. Actually, we have "perry cider" not just plain cider this year. Our neighbor brought over 4 bushels of pears which we pressed along with the apples (pressed pears being perry) and the yield was 67 gallons! We use the community press here in our community and the cost for the 67 gallons wasn't even $25!

Eventually we'll be moving the table and benches into the living room so that we can eat where it's warmer, it makes a snug fit but it is also nice to have all evening activities center in one room, I like being all together. Our neighbor is giving us their 30 laying hens as they no longer want them so I will be raiding the recipe books for recipes heavy on eggs!

Sewing and knitting are carrying on as usual, but I don't really want to write about something that I can't take pictures of. I hope that situation will rectify itself before long.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

We're toast

I'm afraid my friends that the slide is unstoppable now. When Ben Bernanke comes right out and admits it, well, I think it's pretty imminent. I hope you're as ready as you can be. Before I get a deluge of "God is in control" comments, let me say it right up front, I know. I know it and I believe it, but I also know that God is really big on sowing and reaping. About being diligent with what you've been entrusted with and I think we are going to reap the whirlwind. Read about it here and here.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Depressing post

I don't have an upbeat post today, it hasn't been an upbeat weekend so you must bear with this somewhat depressing missive. We went to a thrift store on Saturday in the Big City, it is further away but generally has a better selection of wool coats. I wanted to cannibalize an adult coat to make a little coat for Asa that coordinated with his knit cap that is finished but I didn't want to post about until I had the coat done. I couldn't find anything suitable though, so that was a wasted trip. Outside the door was a black man begging for money for food, he said he was a diabetic and hadn't eaten in two days. I don't know about that, but I do know that he's asking and I believe that if you have something, then you have enough to share. Mr. G of course gave him some money. We don't see that sort of situation here in Little Town but we do in the city more and more often. I feel so sorry for the people that have given up hope. Where will they turn if no one can help them?

Mr. G has been underemployed for a long while and his hours keep getting cut, we now are making what he made in 1990 but with 11 people to support on it. It's very hard to say the least. Despite his degree he can't find a job in his field and he is basically applying for any type of work. We went today so he could apply at a pallet shop, they are hiring 5 people and paying $8.50 an hour. The man interviewed him on the spot and said he would stop taking applications when he had interviewed 100 men, he expected that to happen later today at the rate people were flocking in. 100 men in a day, all desperate enough to take a $8.50 job. The interviewer said an 80 year old man had come in needing work. It just breaks my heart, for us and for them. I am thankful that at least we have the ability to meet many of our own needs, we are shielded from a lot by our lifestyle. I read this pertinent article and thought I'd pass it along as well as the request to remember us in prayer about the employment situation.

I will be back with my regularly scheduled upbeat post later this week. :-)