Monthly Archives: December 2013

Apple Cider Jelly and Apple Butter from One Batch of Apples

aplle cider jelly my best jelly so far

half pints of apple jelly

  This summer I was so fortunate to receive a gift of about 60 pounds of apples from a neighbors tree. I made several things from the free organic apples, pies, apple sauce,  jelly and apple butter. The nice thing was that with the raw apples I could make both apple jelly and apple butter out of the same apples. A two for one deal. I was happy when I realised that all I needed was apple pulp for the apple butter and just the juice for the jelly and they could be worked back to back. If I could just get a whole day to do it all.

fresh picked apples

fresh picked apples

  I though about what I needed to do to combine the recipes for both the apple jelly and apple butter. I needed to make a juice or cider then  I could make apple butter as soon as I was able to get the apple pulp through the food mill and into the slow cookers. I did use two slow cookers for this batch  of apple butter each holding about 2 1/2 quarts of apple pulp.

  The process is a simple and easy one. I cut up unpeeled small apples into quarters. The ones I used for the apple jelly/butter  were smaller than the ones for apple sauce and pies. I placed the apples on the stove with about a 3/4 full  pot full of water (about 4 quarts of water). Cooking the apples down to a sauce took about 20 minutes. This time I wanted the skins and peals still on as I cooked the apples down. The natural pectin in the apple skins would help the jelly set up later in the process.

small quartered apples in stock pot with water

small quartered apples in stock pot with water

   Once it appears that the apples had cooked down I strained the chunky sauce through two sheets of cheese cloth in a strainer to remove the majority of the juice. Once cooled, I pressed the juice out into a bowl.

Apple pulp, sauce in strainer with cheese cloth

Apple pulp, in strainer with cheese cloth

Pressing apple sauce to get remaining juice

Pressing apple sauce to get remaining juice

  I poured the juice into half-gallon jars to let the juice separate a little more so the jelly would be clear from using only a juice with no pulp. I let it rest over night to make the jelly in the morning. The remaining thick  pulp is slowly processed through the Foodmill when cool.

unfiltered apple juice

unfiltered apple juice

  Then I run the remaining plup through the food mill to remove the peals, seeds and lumps.

food mill over pot ready for apples

food mill over pot ready for apples

without the apple peals the sauce should look like this

very thick apple sauce ready to turn to apple butter

very thick apple sauce ready to turn to apple butter

   I then moved the thick sauce to two slow cookers added the sugar and some spices and  covered  the mixture and let cook on low for around 18 hours stirring every 4 or 5 hours.Near the end of the 12th hour I add more spices and sugar to gain a sweeter,stronger flavor. Taste testing and thickness testing is good at about 12 hours.

two slow cookers 1/2 full of apple butter ingredants

two slow cookers 1/2 full of apple butter ingredients

   While the apple butter cooked all night and some of the next morning, I had time to clarify the apple juice. I slowly poured the juice off the top of the jars and then restrained the pulp at the bottom with 4 sheets of cheese cloth. This really cleans the juice if done slowly to remove as much of the pulp as possible. I washed out my cheese cloth between jars of juice to clear away any clogging apple bits.When I was finish straining I poured the clear juice into a stock pot to make the jelly. Measuring out 5 cups of juice at a time.

1 gallon fresh apple juice on stove ready to turn to jelly

1 gallon fresh apple juice on stove ready to turn to jelly

    As with any jelly, jam or butter you need clean sterile jars, lids and rings. I was boiling them about the same time I was pouring the juice through the cheese cloth that way they were  freshly sterile and warm when the jelly was ready to ladle into the jars.

     The idea for this jelly came from my childhood. My aunt often invited my mother, brother and I over for at least one holiday dinner every year. Often it was Easter dinner and as I was so little she always offered me apple cider  to drink instead of the wine that the adults drank during Easter. I loved the warm drink , she would serve her cider in a white teacup with a slice of orange in the bottom and a Cinnamon stick tipping out the top of the cup. I drank more than my fair share of the cider and wanted to make something that tasted like what I remembered as a kid and this is what I came up with.

Following the basic instructions for an apple jelly recipe in the Sure Jell box you will need.

5 cups apple juice

2 table spoons strained orange juice or lemon juice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

7 1/2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon butter or margarine

1 pack liquid Pectin

1. measure correct amount of juice into sauce pot. Add 1/2 teaspoon butter or margarine to reduce foaming if desired.

2. stir sugar into fruit juice bring mixture to a full rolling boil( a boil that does not go down when stirred)  over high heat.

3. Add liquid pectin quickly. Return to full boil and boil for one minute exactly stirring constantly. Remove from heat and ladle  into prepared jars. leaving 1/8 inch head space. skimming tops of jars with wooden spoon to remove foam.

4. Wipe jars, add lids and rings place in a boiling water bath canner, adding enough water to cover jars with one to two inches of water. Bring to a gentil boil and process for five minutes. Remove to cool on clean towels and listen for the lids to pop and seal as cooling. Some jelly takes time to set up.. apple is not usually one of these as the natural pectin and the Sure Jell make this a firm fast setting jelly with a gold color and tiny spices mixed though out.

Apple jelly in jars

Apple jelly in jars

 Then as the jelly cooled I took time to look over the apple butter again. The  teaspoon test is the best way to see if you apple butter is thick enough to put in the jars. When you think the color and thickness is getting where you have reduced the apple sauce mixture about one inch inside the crock pot take a teaspoon and scoop out a small amount of the apple butter and turn the spoon side ways and see how much juice seeps out of the sauce. Ideally their will be almost no juice leaking out of the apple butter.It should be a dark almost chestnut-brown color and very thick much to thick for apple sauce. I adjust the spices and sugar about the time the juice is about gone  to make sure the flavors have time to blend together.Usually a couple of hours before I stop simmering the apple butter.

finished slow cooker apple butter

finished slow cooker apple butter

Slow Cooker Apple Butter made from Apple Sauce.

1. 4 quarts apple sauce in a 5 quart slow cooker or 2 slow cookers with apples split between them.

2. 4 cups sugar split, three cups at beginning of cooking the other added if needed at the end of cooking.

3. 1 tablespoon cinnamon

4. 1/4  teaspoon cloves

5. 1  teaspoon allspice

Mix together and cook on low for about 16 to 18 hours if using one slow cooker, about 9 in two slow cookers. Ladle into clean sterile jars leveling about 1/8 inch head space. Wipe jar lip and cover with lids and rings. Cover jars with two inches of water and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath canner. Remove jars to cool and check seals and enjoy.

finished jars of apple butter 2013

finished jars of apple butter 2013

  This project turned into one of the best ways I can think of to use up a large buckets of smaller apples. With a 8 quart stock pot full of cut apples I ended up with about 9 half pints of cider jelly and about 5 pints of apple butter. I repeated this process twice and had enough jelly and apple butter to give out as holiday gifts this year and still have a few for our family until the next crop of apples appears. 

  Thanks to my lovely Aunt Marjorie Snyder and her love of making jams, jellies and serving me the best apple cider ever!

Categories: apple butter, apple cider jelly, apple sauce, cooking, Jelly, organic foods, Preserving | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Five Facts Friday, Random Things About Me

Five random facts friday,  is a creation of  a friend and fellow blogger Nancy Claeys who tries to get us  to post fun things about ourselves that others may not know.It helps all of us rural folks get to know each other better and share things we have in common when we are sometimes the only ones around for miles!

http://aruraljournal.blogspot.com/p/random-5-friday.html 

nancy claeys link photo

nancy claeys link photo

 

Markers Mark tasting room. Near Loretto, Ky

Markers Mark tasting room. Near Loretto, Ky

1.  Kentucky is one of my favorite places to travel to…. if I had to move, I would move to Kentucky…. They love the same things that I love so it feels like home any time we visit. They love Horses…. Southern Food… and Burbon… What’s not to like?

2. I have accomplished one of my New Years  resolutions from 2012… I wanted to recycle more.. and with the end of the year I did… lots and lots more. I wanted to do more than just my milk jugs so I really started digging into every plastic container we ever used and I had at least  4 , 13 gallon trash bags full of plastic every month… I never though we were so wasteful but the truth is out now!  

3.  I  love canning and making jelly and jams and butters. So this year I made well over 100 1/2 pints of the stuff and gave most of it away as gifts… thankfully my husband does not mind.

aplle cider jelly my best jelly so far

apple cider jelly my best jelly so far

4.  I am getting interested in making fermented foods from our garden so the next year will be full of wine, extracts, pickles, kraut and home-made vinegar. If you think about it I have to of the major bases covered… sweet, with jams and jellies and now tart with pickles and wine.

5. I have almost finish my first year of blogging and it has been the most fun hobby that I have added in years. So glad I tried to join into this vast pool of knowledge and friendship… Thanks Nancy it has been wonderful to share with you and your followers.

Thanks again for stopping by and if you can stop by the blog hop linked above.

Categories: blogging, recycling | Tags: , , , , , | 24 Comments

Venison Barley Soup the Other Red Meat

    I find it very interesting when I hear the statement, “I don’t like venison, it has a funny taste to it”. In response I usually say, “Then you have never had much venison or wild game”. I am notorious for feeding venison to people who don’t like it and changing their minds. Very often the dislike of game meat is a mental thing not a taste thing. So when a person does not know they are eating venison they give you an honest reply to your preparation of the food. This is one of my favorite recipes that does not taste like anything other than beef and is a great way to introduce the idea of eating wild game.

  Most deer is prepared the same as beef if the cook is aware that there is less fat content in any wild game so it is rather dry( unless we are talking bear) and needs a moist heat to keep it tender and flavor full. Soups and Stews are fast easy ways to enjoy the meat and not battle its natural low-fat qualities.

Venison Barley soup

Venison Barley soup

    By this photo can you tell this is venison? I am sure that most people are unable to tell the difference. The aroma is also beefy, due to the use of beef stock or broth, so you maybe the only person even notices the difference. 

Venison Barley Soup 

1.  1# Pound venison stake in small cubes

2.  5 Cups of water/ 1 cup added with barley

3.  4 Bouillon cubes beef flavor

4.  2/3 cup Quick Barley

5.  1 teaspoon salt

6.  1 bay leaf

7.  Pepper to taste

8.  1 Cup Carrots diced

9.  1 Cup onion diced 

10.  1 Can petite diced tomatoes 

11. 1 Cup frozen peas 

12. 2 tablespoons cooking oil

    I made this last week while the snow was flying and the house was cold. We usually serve it with fresh made corn muffins or hot rolls with lots of butter.

  So to start with brown the deer steak cubes in the oil, I use canola oil. I used left over tenderloin for this batch of soup but any cut will do.

browning of deer steak

browning of deer steak

  While this is cooking over a lower heat I get my 4 cups water and bouillon cubes put together to soften them.

this photo shows 4 cups of water and 4 boulion cubes. I add one more cup at the addition of the barley

this photo shows 4 cups of water and 4 bouillon cubes. I add one more cup at the addition of the barley

    After the meat is nicely browned I add 1 cup carrots and 1 cup onion and soften them for a couple of minutes in the broth that forms from the venison.

carrots, onion, and venison

carrots, onion, and venison

  Then it is time to add the broth, Bay leaf, canned tomatoes, salt and peper.Let the mixture simmer for about 30 minutes before adding Barley or frozen peas.

soup before adding peas and barley

soup before adding peas and barley

   After the 3o minutes of simmering add 2/3 cup QUICK BARLEY not the regular barley. If you are unable to find the quick barley you need to add it to the soup earlier in the simmering process and allow another 15 to twenty minutes to the cook time. I also add one more cup of water at this point in thin the soup a little. If you would rather have it as a stew then omit this cup of water. I also add the frozen peas and allow to simmer on low heat covered for about ten minutes following the quick barley directions on box,  checking for thickness as time passes.Quick baley does continue to thicken your soup even after removed from the stove so beware.

Venison Barley Soup simmering on stove

Venison Barley Soup simmering on stove

  If the soup appears thick enough then remove bay leaf and serve. This recipe feeds about  5.  If  you are lucky and don’t have a 22-year-old son who will eat you out of house and home then maybe 6 average size portions. Cooking time is about 40 minutes.

  Cooking this on a cold winter afternoon warmed that inter house. I serve the soup with warm cornbread and a lite salad and home canned peaches making this a very country heart healthy meal. Enjoy!

Categories: cooking, country cooking, deer, soup, Venison, venison | Tags: , , , , | 17 Comments

A Time and Place to Heal

    Do you ever wonder after some major change in your life that maybe even if things didn’t turn out the way you expected that they turned out for the best?

Quarter horse mare and foal... my baby "Dancer"

Quarter horse mare and foal… my baby “Dancer”

   When Tom and I moved off the farm 2 1/2 years ago I think we were both felt a little confused and lost. We had thought that our future was the land and the animals that we had filled it with. We both had jobs and at the time a toddler who needed us. We just had no idea that the future had us elsewhere and that we needed time away from the farm work to rest and heal. Tom needed two major surgeries and I needed to get time to raise Christopher, grandma need a place to recover from major surgery and I would eventually need time to heal a broken bone and time start this blog. ( this is my 50th blog post, a year has almost passed on WordPress)

Tom the day after arm surgery aug 2012

Tom the day after arm surgery Aug 2012

 When we moved Tom was suffering from not only Carpal tunnel but Cubital tunnel also, in both arms ( Cubital Tunnel is at the elbow) and it was getting worse. I knew without the surgeries his days of farm work and being a Farrier to our clients horses were over. I also knew that I was just plain tired of working so hard. Taking care of a toddler, working and looking after 7 head of horses and the rest of our animals was more than a full-time job. I wanted more time to play and show our son the world and you can’t just pack up and leave 15 or 20 animals alone and go to grandmas 1500 miles away.

Tom forming horse shoes on anvil

Tom forming horse shoes on anvil

  So our move off the farm was a good one, not because we understood that we needed to find the old unloved house that we now live in or bring it back to life. We had no way of knowing that the time and money to get Tom arms fixed would take years, not months to correct.That Christopher’s grandma would need loving care and at our house for several weeks or that I would need to let a broken bone heal for 6 weeks. Some how, not having the farm was just what we all needed at the right time.

Grandma staying with us after her surgery

Grandma staying with us after her surgery

   I guess this broken bone in my foot has really changed things for me.I was always looking after everyone else so they had time to heal, now it is me who needs the time off. I think I broke my foot in September but I’m not really sure. The pain just kept growing and no healing was taking place. The pain got so intense that I just couldn’t take a walk out to our mail box anymore. I had to see the Dr and hope they could fix what ever was wrong because without some kind of help I was looking at losing my job and not being able to do simple things like grocery shopping. All due to my feet hurting.

Well the mystery is now over and I look like this…..

Jolynn in her leg in air cast Dec 9th 2013

Jolynn in her leg in air cast Dec 9th 2013

I have some how ( the Dr say stress fractured) the small bone under my big toe joint. I would try to spell it but really it is not worth the mental anguish to figure it out. They are hoping that with 6 weeks off my feet and in the cast it should heal but given the fact that I think I have been walking on it for almost three months with no signs of healing they are not sure what to expect. If the bones do not knit themselves back together then surgery going to be in Feb. At that point they will remove a portion of the bone that is floating loose in the ball of my foot. That would mean another 4 to 6 weeks off.

    So as I look back over the last 2 1/2 years, the amount of time we have been off the farm, I can’t help but to see that we needed this move. The whole family needed less, less things, less land, fewer animals and more time to rest and heal. Who would have guess that my 1920s cottage with thousands in repairs would turn into a safe haven for all of our broken bodies. Again, I am always amazed at how things work out for the best even when we are unwilling or unprepared to see what we need at certain times in our lives. I am just glad to have this healing place we call home.

the new back porch Tom built on the old house last year

the new back porch Tom built on the old house last year

Categories: Family, Farming, Farrier work., Healing, Home | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Building Memories, Gingerbread House

    One of my favorite things about having kids is doing things together that they will remember when they are old and gray. I try to spend time with my sons doing creative things that we will both like to do too.

christopher building ginger bread house

Christopher building gingerbread house

   This seems to always involve food or building something so we finally found a  way to combine the two, gingerbread houses. I am now hooked and will be looking at other houses for ideas. We cheated this year with a kit house and some stale candy from Halloween. I learned tons and am thinking of already making another one from scratch.

The two houses my friends Jacquelyn has written about her Blog  http://quiltofmissingmemories.wordpress.com/2013/12/07/one-sweet-forecast/ made a real impression on me and I hope to get an idea as nice as her “Dance Studio” house for the kids to build in the future. I am sure that I would end up dragging Tom into it also… He could draw out the plans on butcher paper and I would cook the cookies and make the icing.

My older son suggested that we make a barn and I am thinking that would be great if I can maybe make it with animal crackers we decorate or find some cookie cutters in animal shapes… the ideas go on and on.

But in the end it was all about making memories with my son and having fun on his Thanksgiving break and spending family time together.

small ginger bread house

small ginger bread house

Then after all the fun is over mom still gets to clean up the mess.

mess left after decorating ginger bread house

mess left after decorating ginger bread house

Sharing this with Thursday favorite things at Katherine’s Corner.com

Categories: cakes and family deserts, candy, Christopher, cooking, gingerbread, Holidays | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

Letter Writing in the Electronic Age

Letter from Mary and Ron 2009  

Lets get this straight from the beginning, I am completely guilty of not sending out enough real cards and real letters. I still try very hard to make a physical holiday card/letter every year and have for well into 10 years now. I am not sure if the recipients of those letters love them as much as I do, but they are so fun to make that I do it for the sheer joy of creating them. I also send out cards, I make home-made ones, others are store-bought with the recipient in mind. I always write a nice note or add a funny photo or even confetti to the cards. I know  what you are thinking …Really who has time to think about a card the much? I do! I  want the people in my life to remember how wonderful they are to me and this is how I do it. I take the long road and write on paper or print it out and put it in the mail with a lovely stamp and doodle on the back and let the my joy spread slowly with anticipation about what is in side. I am telling you good letter writing is a lost art.

birthday card from my mother

birthday card from my mother

  I love e-mail don’t get me wrong. Inside the work place it is the very best way to communicate with co-worker and it is so much easier and cheaper to sending a thousand letters to people around the globe. I get that, but what I don’t get is why we would Facebook the words …. “Happy Birthday” to 46 different people in a year. It is fun the frist year… adding up the number of sentiments, comparing it to your friend who has 1100 friends and some how got 800 “Happy Birthdays” compared to your lousey twenty six.  But the following year you are disappointed with the fact that very few people take the time really say anything of value and you certainly don’t remember in a month who even typed the standard line on to your wall. If you are lucky some one might drop you a short note via E-mail about your plans for the weekend or the party you are planning but it is not the same.winter wishes holiday card

  I have a friend who I communicate with regularly in every way that is possible. We send letters, cards and talk on the phone we like home-made letters and we have both been known to save, for years, the letters and cards that we have sent each other. Do you do that with e-mail? How often have you gone back 10 years and looked over your best friends e-mails about their divorce, or pulled up a Happy Birthday e-mail from high school. It does not happen and no one stops and cries over a love note on Face Book.  Thank you card

I have and will again look over love letters and poems that I have received over the years. The torn corners of blue lined note-book paper, the napkin from a bar with a note and home-made cards all mean the world to me. I love them they take me back to a time, place and person who took the time to write them. Remember that you are making memories when you take the time to not just write your blog or that e-mail but write something on paper. You are physically touching another life when a letter arrives in the mail box. If that person on the other end of your gesture does not see the importance of your words and toss them in the trash, then forgive them and do it anyway. Any normal person will still smile and linger over your gift more than if it was electronic.chicken card

Yes, it is slow and more expensive for me to send out  holiday cards and letters. Many things are so much better when done slowly and when they cost a little more. Paper and ink are such a wonderful combination why not share them.

  As I am sure you can already tell I am in the process of sending out more than three dozen letters for the up coming Christmas holiday. It is tradition and it is fun for me to get responses from those that receive them about how they enjoy them and the photos I enclose. In my world I have friends who save and reread some of them and I keep copies for myself. I still cry at times over a holiday letter that  friends send out about their  very tough year where a family member dies or a relationship ends.

   I will not say that I am a skilled writer to anyone. I can barely use this blog most of the time due to my dyslexia. But I am good at getting to the heart of things and seeing things that others over look. So when I  write that letter, note or card, it is hard work. It is painful for me … I hate that I misspell and forget grammar rules but I put it out their.. I stick my neck out and take the time to share my love in a real way.  I made a difference to some one a thousand miles away  who is taking chemo today… did  you? All with a letter I sent.

Categories: dyslexia, holiday cards, letter writing | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

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