Thursday, October 29, 2009

Apple Pie Filling

Making apple pie filling is one of those jobs I do now to save time later. It is so fast to open up a jar of pie filling, pour into a baking dish, top with a cobbler, crumb or crisp topping and bake along with the evening meal. Most of our apple pie filling is used in Ed's dutch oven. Since the apples are canned it is much faster then using raw apples. Great for those impromptu ideas we can have some days!
Use a good pie baking apple such as Stayman or Grimes Golden. I used York, which seemed to do well. Do not use an apple like Granny Smith that cooks into mush.
If you own, or can borrow, a apple peeler, now is the time to use it! I used my mother-in-law's awesome peeler. It makes peeling fun and greatly shortened the prep time!

You'll need:
8 quart of peeled and sliced apples
9 1/2 cup water
4 cup sugar
1 cup clear gel
4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
3 T lemon juice

Bring water, sugar, clear gel, salt, and spices to boil. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice.

Stir in apple slices.
Place in quart canning jars. DO NOT fill too full. Can for 25 minutes. Makes 8 to 10 quarts

What to do with Eggs? - Custard

A huge shift has taken place in our kitchen in the last few months. Once upon a time, every egg was cherished. I had a good source for farm fresh eggs from my parents and two neighbors who sold eggs. But even though I'd pick up two or three dozen at a time, I always seemed to be low on eggs. Baking day began with an egg inventory and recipes were chosen accordingly. ("If I use two eggs in the cookies, and one in the bread, I'll still have one egg left for waffles tomorrow morning...") My children love hard boiled eggs and deviled eggs but I rarely made them.

Not anymore! Our chickens are giving us about 8 eggs a day. We have had as high as 11 in one day and as low as 6, but 8 is about our average. In a week, that is a LOT of eggs. And I LOVE it! No longer do I start my morning, looking into the egg carton to see if scrambled eggs is an option. At least once a week I hard boil a dozen eggs for my delighted children. I love that their growing bodies can enjoy this high protein food.

But after several weeks of doing very little baking, the egg situation is getting a little out of hand! Now I'm evaluating recipes for how many eggs they can use, instead of how few eggs I can get away with! My sister was here for a day last week and she helped me make noodles and angel food cake. We also discovered a custard recipe that took 6 eggs and was delicious!

Can you give me some other ideas? Or do you have a favorite egg heavy recipe? I'd love to try it!

And here is the custard we made.


6 eggs, beaten slightly
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
4 cup hot milk

Mix eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Add milk very slowly, while stirring rapidly. Pour into baking dish and sprinkle liberally with nutmeg. For best results, place baking dish into a pan of water, as deep as the custard if possible. Place in oven and bake at 325 degrees for 40 minutes. (I baked it at 375 degrees for shorter time.) Custard is finished when knife inserted into center comes out clean.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fruit Crisp

Crisp and cobblers are such simple easy desserts! Use whatever fresh fruit you have available (pears, peaches, berries, plums, etc) We've been enjoying this with apples. I replace the orange juice with apple cider for deeper apple flavor.
5 cups fresh chopped fruit (peeled if needed, in other words, don't peel blueberries, do peel apples!)
3 T brown sugar
1 T flour
1 T orange juice

In 9-inch square pan, gently toss filling ingredients.

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup quick oats
1/4 cup flour
5 T melted butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp salt

Combine topping ingredients in bowl. Sprinkle on top of fruit. Bake at 400 degrees until fruit is bubbly and topping lightly browned, about 40 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Homegoing - and Blog Break

Just stopping in for a few minutes to let you know that I'll be taking a break from blogging this week. Yesterday my husband's dad passed away. We are still in shock as he was in perfect health, until Saturday when he had a massive brain aneurysm.

I have been blessed with the best father-in-law that one could ever wish for. When I wonder how I ever came to have such a wonderful husband, I only need to look at his generous hard-working dad, remember how tenderly he cared for his wife and the beautiful marriage and friendship they have shared for 50 years. He made me feel like a daughter and not just an in-law and I'm so glad that I've had eight years in their family. He truly cared about people, whether it was the neighbors in his small farming community, the handicapped children he helped, or his friends from the year he spent in Ethiopia. I grieve that my children will probably not remember their big-hearted granddad.
"The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord." Job 1:21

"To be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." 2 Cor 5:6

"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." Rev 21:4

(I know all this in my head. Getting it to my heart is more difficult. "For we walk by faith, not by sight." 2 Cor 5:7)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Make your own Pesto

Pesto is one of those things that I've wanted to make for years. I can not tell you how many times I've planted basil in the spring, thinking that THIS year I would get around to making pesto, only to have the first fall frost come, my basil wither to the ground, and no pesto made! Finally, this year I got to it!

Pesto is simple to make - and even more yummy then I imagined. Tossed with some hot pasta, spread on a cracker or baked potato, pesto brings the summer basil flavor to the kitchen! Maybe, if you do not like garlic, you should not try it! Pesto is not for the faint of heart!

Pesto is best fresh. It quickly starts to turn brown. If you do not eat it all immediately, store it in the fridge with a little olive oil over the top. I froze the leftover pesto in an ice cube tray. One small cube should be enough to enjoy on our pasta this winter.

I used a food processor. If you do not have one, use a blender or even a knife.

1/2 cup pine nuts or walnuts
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp salt
2 cup packed basil leaves
1/4 cup olive oil

In food processor, place nuts and pulse until chopped fine.

Add garlic and continue to chop.

Add remaining ingredients except oil.

When pureed, slowly add oil.

Serve immediately!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake Pie

Ed loves anything chocolate. Cheesecake is his all time favorite. Pumpkin desserts of any sort are welcome. When I saw this recipe (clipped from a magazine, maybe Southern Living?) which combined all three, I knew it had to be a winner!

My sister was here helping me with applesauce yesterday and she made this for us. With a cheesecake bottom, this is certainly a pleasant twist to the usual pumpkin pie! Just make sure you have a deep dish pie pan or it will never fit all the good stuff!

1 deep dish unbaked pie shell
12 oz cream cheese (1 1/2 packages)
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup finely chopped semisweet chocolate
2 cups pumpkin puree
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
4 eggs
3/4 cup milk

In bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, and 1 egg. Beat until smooth. Spread in unbaked pastry shell. Sprinkle with chopped chocolate.
In bowl, combine pumpkin, brown sugar, and spices. Stir in beaten eggs and milk. Slowly pour pumpkin mixture on chocolate layer.
Bake at 375 degrees for 65 minutes or until center is set. Cool. Refrigerate. Garnish with chopped chocolate if desired. Serve.
For more great pumpkin ideas, go to Tammy's Recipes In-Season Recipe Swap.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bars

A simple bar that met my family's approval. This recipe makes two 9x13 pans, one for now and one for the freezer. I like to bake more then one pan of bars or cakes at a time to save time and electricity. But these hardly made it to the freezer.

1 cup oil
1 3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
2/3 cup water
2 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cup flour
2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts

Mix oil and sugar. Add eggs, water, and pumpkin and mix well. Stir in dry ingredients. Pour into two 9x13 pans. Bake 5 minutes at 350 degrees. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and nuts. Continue baking for 30 minutes or until done.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Making Applesauce

We eat a LOT of applesauce. Ed takes applesauce to work in his lunch nearly every day. The children can polish off almost a quart jar of applesauce in a meal. Thankfully, making applesauce is one of my favorite fall tasks. While some people make applesauce with early apples in the summer, I love to wait until a brisk fall day and fill the house with the wonderful aroma of cooking apples.

Ed offered to help me get started today. We decided to only do two bushels of apples since there were other things we wanted to get done today as well. (Like the local library's annual book sale. Can't miss that!)

We usually mix two or more different varieties of apples. I think it makes a better flavored sauce. I found that by using a half to two-thirds Golden Delicious apples, which are a sweet variety, I do not need to add any additional sugar. But using only Golden Delicious apples tends to make a bland flavored sauce. Today we used Jonagold apples along with the Golden Delicious. I had found a great deal on seconds at a local orchard. They had spots from hail damage but at the price, I could throw out a few and still have a bargain.

First we washed the apples, cut out any bad spots, and quartered the apples. We do not peel or core the apples. In the past we've cored the apples but we didn't bother today.

Add a tiny bit of water to the pan and place on medium low heat. As the apples begin to cook and get juicer, I slowly increase the heat.
When soft, we put the apples through the food mill. If you want to make a quantity of applesauce, a large food mill is a tremendous blessings. My mom found this Squeezo for me at a yard sale! You pour in the cooked apples in the top, turn the crank and out comes your applesauce with all the skins and seeds removed!

Ladle into jars.
Can for 20 minutes.

Our total for today was 29 quart - plus one quart we ate for lunch! (Warm applesauce! Mmmm!) I am hoping to do at least four, if not six, more bushels. Then I'll be done with canning for the year! Yippee!!! (Unless I make apple pie filling or can some venison.)


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