Changing of the Season

Here’s to hoping your shift into the Fall season has been less abrupt than ours.  It felt like we went from glorious, sunshiny days to sad, deary, and cold all overnight.  Such is life in the Midwest I suppose.  You’d think I would be used to it by now.  This week we are due to have a weather swing of more than 30 degrees!  It’s been chilly but since there is still tank top weather visible in the forecast I’m refusing to turn on the heat.

I’m honestly most upset about the toll the abrupt cold temperature swing is having on my garden.  My poor pepper plants all still have flowers on them!  I have little baby poblano peppers that almost certainly aren’t going to achieve their maximum potential….it’s so annoying!  Gardening season is over I suppose….time to harvest what I can salvage, dry all my herbs, and nestle in for winter!

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This is so true….us Midwesterners know what’s up!

With the changing of the seasons comes a shift in activities.  Twice now I have insisted that The Engineer go apple picking with me!  Additionally, I’ve forced him to stand in front of many a pile of pumpkins while I attempt to select just the right shaped pumpkin for the front porch!  I don’t even generally decorate for fall….why do fall when you can skip straight to Christmas right?!  Something just has me in the mood to switch it up this year I guess.

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Would you just look at that?!  Perfectly picked pumpkins, squash, and corn cobs! 🙂

If you pick the apples, you’ll need to do something with the apples.  Nothing will make your house seem warm and cozy….even if the heat isn’t on yet…..than making apple butter!  I hadn’t ever tried my hand at apple butter previously, but I’ve whipped of several of these batches, and I’ve even had it taste tested by several friends and coworkers.  The results have been an overwhelming success, and it honestly doesn’t get much easier than this recipe!

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This first batch of apples was a variety called Cortland…I’m not sure why my bag says mix.

Before I get into the recipe I have an important public service announcement to make!

In case you find yourself preparing to go apple picking and looking up recipes wondering, “How many apples do I need for all this festive, fall fun-ness!?”  Well let me give you a list of what 1 peck of apples will get you.  For those of you not super up on your apple picking terms and quantities….1 peck is roundabout 10 pounds!

From my first peck of apples I made:

  • Nearly 2 full batches of apple butter….the second batch was maybe 5 apples short of full
  • 12 caramel apple and pecan pasties
  • 2 quarts of apple pie filling
  • Random apples for raw eating throughout the weekend

I now return you to your regularly scheduled recipe post!

Apple Butter

Ingredients

  • Apples
  • Brown Sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg

Supplies

  • Crock Pot
  • Immersion Blender — if a smoother texture is desired
  • Canning jars and water bath, or containers for freezing

Directions

Wash, core, and simply rough chop your apples into bite sized pieces.  Fill your crock pot until the very top and you can just get the lid on.  We have a two crock pots, but I used our smaller 4 quart sized pot.  The measurements are relative to that, but feel free to make more or less to suit your needs.

Place the lid on your crock pot and let cook on Low for about 12 hours.  I started mine in the evening and just let it go to town all night long.  There’s no need to add any liquid to the apples!

After 12 hours, stir your apple mixture.  It will be very soft and broken down on the bottom, the top apples might still be a bit firm, depending on how large a batch you’re working on.  To you apple mush add 1 cup loosely packed Brown Sugar, 1 tbsp Cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp Nutmeg.  Again, this is for 4 quarts of fairly tangy apples.  I like to taste the tang in the finished product, but if you like it sweeter feel free to adjust to your own personal tastes.

Recover you crock and let everything stew and simmer together for another 3-5 hours.

After this second cooking, if the mixture is still looking chunkier than you’d like, use an immersion blender, or regular blender, to make a smoother texture.  If you don’t mind it a bit chunky, just skip that step.  I’ve done both and it all comes out just fine, just what you prefer.

If canning, place your mixture into clean, half pint jars.  Process in a water bath for 10 minutes and let rest over night to seal.

4 quarts of apples gave me 4 half pint jars plus a few extra tablespoons to enjoy on the fly!

I didn’t freeze any myself, but my coworker always freezes her.  Bag or place in portioned containers to freeze and enjoy at a later date!

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I Need to Remember I Own a Crockpot

The other day I was scrolling around Buzzfeed and found a collection of crock pot recipes. I rarely make any of those recipes, but one stuck out to me.  It’s from fellow blogger Tieghan Gerard, and her blog Half Baked Harvest.  Her recipe for Crockpot Italian Chicken and Broccoli Rabe Chili sounded like the perfect thing to have cooking away while attempting to brave the last few frozen months of winter on the Northern Plains.

I didn’t change much about her original recipe, but I did make a couple minor adjustments:

  • I have a smaller crockpot, so I used probably a pound and a half of chicken
  • Only three cups of stock, although I will add more when I make it again
  • Just a couple good sized splashes of balsamic vinegar
  • All the other spices and ingredients I used were the same
  • I did substitute chopped kale for the broccoli rabe, but only because I eat kale salads often during the week so it just fit better with my regular food routine.

Her recipe was perfect!  I baked up some dinner rolls, and tucked in on the couch with Scout for some Netflix and way too much food.  It’s healthy, but it’s flavorful and spicy enough that you don’t mind that its healthy.  Plus, that’s just an excuse to eat more, and on cold winter nights that’s what you need!!

I will defiantly being going back and digging through the archives on Half Baked Harvest to find other yummy treasures!

 

 

In totally unrelated news, my poor little MacBook did indeed die last Friday night.  According to the repair dude, it had a major hard drive malfunction.  So, needless to say, I’ve been heming and hawing all week about whether to keep the brand new MacBook I bought on sale at Best Buy, or repair my old one for about half as much.  Side note…..apparently being a mid-2009 model number makes my MacBook vintage…or so I was told!!!  :/

I did eventually settle for fixing the old one.  So the Mac is getting a new battery and a fancy new hard drive, and they promise me that I’ll end up with basically a brand new computer in my old case.  The downfall of this, is that because the old hard drive crashed so hard, they aren’t able to get any of my old photos and documents back.  Let this be a lesson to you kiddos……always use your Cloud Drive!