Friday, September 27, 2013

Apple Pie Filling

This is the second installment of my Apple’s Everywhere collection.  Last time I shared an easy recipe for Apple Sauce and some great alternatives for sweetening without using sugar.  In this post I will share an easy apple pie filling that will give you delicious pie all through the winter, even after fresh local apples are long gone.

Apple Pie Filling is also quite easy:

 Fill a large bowl with cold water and the juice of half a lemon.  I ended up needing two bowls so be aware you may not fit all your apples in one. 

With a total of 10-12 pounds of apples, peel core and slice each apple and immediately place them into the lemon water mixture.  The lemon juice keeps the apples looking fresh rather than browning as they are sliced.  I know some people use Ascorbic Acid Color Keeper but I prefer to keep it as simple and natural as possible and the lemon water works perfectly for me.

 In a large pot bring water to a boil.

 In small batches, cook apples in water for about 30 seconds.  Transfer the apples to a large bowl and cover to keep warm.

 In a large pot combine 5 cups of sugar (Here you can also use the honey or maple syrup instead of sugar), 1 ½ cups ClearJel or pectin (a thickening agent), 1tbs ground cinnamon, ½ tsp ground nutmeg, 1/8 tsp fround cloves, 5 cups apple juice (I used apple cider), and2 ½ cups cold water. 
Cook to boiling and simmer until the mixture starts to thicken. 

Add ¾ cup lemon juice and boil for another minute.
 Stir in apples. 

Pack into hot, sterile canning jars (leaving 1 inch headspace), apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water canner for 25 minutes. 

This recipe makes 7 quarts, enough for 7 pies.  The apples are softer than if you make the pie with fresh apples but it is just as delicious and you won’t have to search for apples when you want pie in February.

**This post is shared in The Prairie Homestead's Barn Hop #129**

Monday, September 23, 2013

Apples Everywhere

It’s that time of year folks!!  The official start of Autumn is upon us and here in the north east the leaves are already starting to turn.  With this change in seasons comes a whole new crop of fruits and veggies.  I just planted my apple trees in the yard earlier this year and the large trees around the property have not been maintained so none of my apples are viable.  But my neighbor has a huge tree that seemed to produce an abundance of apples this year.  My son was so excited about picking apples that we pulled the wagon over for two days straight and just started picking.  Befor I knew it we had close to 100 pounds of apples sitting in our kitchen. 

What the heck does one person do with over 100 pounds of apples?!?!  Lots and lots of recipe research ensued as soon as I got these apples home.  I decided on 4 different recipes; Apple Sauce, Apple Pie Filling, Spiced Apple Rings, and Apple Butter.  I will share these recipes over the next two weeks so as not to overwhelm you with one huge post.  I will start with the apple sauce.

Maple, Cinnamon, and Honey Apple Sauces

Apple Sauce is rather straight forward:

 Core and slice about 8 pounds of apples.

 In a large pot with 2 cups of water cook the apples for 25-30 minutes.

 If you peeled the apples, at this point mash them to the desired consistency.  If you did not peel your apples, run them through a food mill.

 Ladle into hot, sterile canning jars (leaving a ½ inch headspace), apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes.

 Most recipes you find online or in books will say to add a cup of sugar to sweeten your sauce.  I made one batch with sugar and cinnamon sticks but did not want to have 12 quarts of sugary apple sauce so I needed other options.  I made a second batch with pure maple syrup from a local farmer and the third with raw honey, also from a local farmer.  The syrup and honey add a bit of sweetness as well as other natural flavors that bring a little twist to traditional apple sauce.  I plan to make a fourth batch of Maple Honey Cinnamon Apple Sauce and I will be sure to tell you how it turns out.

This post is shared on The Prairie Homestead's Homestead Barn Hop #128

Friday, September 20, 2013

Technical Difficulties

Howdy Y'all.  It seems that the internet at my house no longer wishes to cooperate with me.  Because of this, I am unable to post from the comfort of my own home.  This in no way means I will let this blog fall apart.  It does however mean that I have to get myself to the local library on a regular basis.  What this means for my readers is quite simple.  There may be an extended period of time between posts (but I will do my best to not let this happen.  I have already started the epic search for a flash drive.  I know there must be dozens in my house courtesy of my beloved husband, but I have absolutly no clue where they are) and it may take longer to moderate comments. 

I will try my best to rectify this issue as soon as possible but computer/internet problems are my husbands area of expertise.  I can put up an entire pasture on my own in a matter of days but I have no idea what I am doing when it comes to electronics.  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Home Made Wheat Bread

Recently I decided to venture into home made bread.  My husband gave me the final push I needed while he was home recently.  I searched for recipes and ideas that would work for me and ended up taking a recipe and tweaking it to fit what I preferred.

6 ¼ cups of flour (I use whole wheat or unbleached flour.  At some point I will try this with fresh milled flour but I do not currently have a grain mill)
¼ cup of honey (I use local raw honey)
2 packages instant yeast
2 tsp salt
1 ½ cups hot water
½ cup milk
2 tbs butter

Combine 2 ½ cups of flour, yeast and salt.  Heat water, milk and butter to 120 degrees (just befor boiling).  Gradually add hot liquid to dry mixture.  Add Honey.  Slowly continue to add flour to make a soft dough (At this point you may or may not use all the flour you set aside or you may use more.  Keep adding flour until the dough is soft and malleable but not sticky).  Knead dough for 6 minutes.  Cover with a damp cloth and let rise for 20 minutes.

Split dough into two even balls.  Roll one ball out to a 12 inch x 7 inch rectangle.  Roll tightly into a log, pinch ends to seal.  Place in prepared loaf pan (a thin layer of butter and a powdering of flour) seam side down.  Cover and let rise for 25 minutes.  Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. 

This is what happens if you fail to bake your bread seam side down.  This loaf was just as delicious but a bit difficult to slice.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Homesteading On The Go

When we hear the term *Homesteading*, many people picture a cute little farm in the middle of nowhere on huge acreage.  This does not have to be the case.  Yes we all dream of a perfect farm house, white picket fence, big red barn, rolling pastures and a garden without a single weed.  But we have to work within our means and that often does not include any of the things we dream of.  The great thing about homesteading is that you can have aspects of it in any location.

 Being a Military spouse often means you don’t get to stay in one place long enough to realy settle down.  This does not mean that you can’t have a little bit of the homesteading lifestyle.  Many posts allow you to plant a small garden in your back yard or offer a community garden plot.  I urge you to speak to the housing office befor planting tho, just in case.  But even if your post doesn't allow for planting a full garden, you can still get those home grown veggies.  Enter the container garden!  Container gardening is easy, space saving, and moves right along with you as you  travel around the country.  One of the easiest aspects of a container garden is that you can use almost anything as a planter.  I am a huge fan of Behrens steel products.  The *31 Gallon Trash Can* is perfect for potatoes and the *16 Gallon Oval Tub* can fit multiple plants for a mini portable garden.  Bonus points, most of Behrens products are made in the USA!  If you are anything like me you have an abundance of wooden boxes, plastic bins, and various planters around the house.   These can all be used for container gardening, or you can purchase various usable containers at garage sales and flea markets.  *This Book* offers a variety of DIY projects to help you get started including some container gardening and a Strawberry Barrel.

Living off post brings with it many more options for a portable homestead.  You are still able to plant a container garden but may also have the option of digging out a plot in the yard.  If your house allows pets, you may have the option of keeping chickens.  Now y’all think I have gone crazy.  How can we keep chickens if we move every three years or more.  Chickens are surprisingly portable.  Moving a large coop or chicken tractor may be difficult and expensive but there are other options.  Nesting boxes can be 1footX1foot and can be made to stack inside each other or used for packing while you move.  Chicken coops can be made out of many materials and don’t need to be any larger than a dog crate.  One of the easy parts of chicken keeping is that they don’t need a lavish or even large home.  They are happy to be out of the elements and tucked into any warm, draft free corner. 

There are a few other great things you can do to help get you a little closer to that homesteading lifestyle while on the go.  Preserving your own food is on the top of that list.  Buying a small dehydrator like *This One* is a great investment, or you can build the one mentioned in the book above.  Home canning is something that has been around for generations and it is making a huge comeback.  A few *Ball Canning Jars* and a *Water BathCanner* are all you need to get started.  Purchasing a good recipe book is never a bad idea either.  I personally love the *Better Homes and Gardens* beginner canning books. 

I realize that now is not the greatest time to start homesteading with winter coming on and all.  But it is the perfect time to start composting with a *CompostTumbler*.  And with this off season right around the corner, you can get started planning what you want to plant in the Spring and where.  So, while you are on the move with the military, bring a little bit of homesteading along with you and enjoy your fresh veggies wherever and whenever you are!  

**Disclaimer, I am an Amazon Associate so any purchases from the links in this post help give me a little financial kick**

This Post is shared on homestead-barn-hop-127 at The Prairie Homestead