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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Grandma's Apple Sauce/Pie Filling

As a nice compliment to Christine's apple scone recipe, here is the family applesauce recipe:

6 large granny smith apples (but really whatever falls off the tree, you know? Just use more if they're small) -- peeled, cored and cut into largish chunks
3/4 C. water
1/2 C. sugar (less if you are using really sweet apples)
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Dissolve sugar in water, add apples and seasonings and simmer on low heat until apples are soft but NOT MUSH.  You want those apples to still have some shape -- it's a nice chunky applesauce, not that mushy stuff.
You can preserve this as you would other canned fruits; but if you're making a pie with it, put a dab of butter in it.
We eat this up so fast, it's hard to have any left for canning; we even put it in our Loaf of Meat.  Loaf of Meat recipe coming soon.
If you have an overabundance of apples to get rid of come Fall, and live in our community, we will take them off your hands. :-)


Apple Cinnamon Scones

This is what I made for breakfast this morning. Apple Cinnamon Scones.

1/3 c. cold butter
2.c flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 c. cinnamon sugar ( you will use 1/2 in the dough and the other half at the end)
1/2 c. mashed apple pie filling ( you can use a potato masher, fork or processor)

Preheat the oven to 425. If you are using a baking stone preheat it as well. Or you will have raw dough on the bottom and burnt tops. Not a pretty picture!
You can also easily double the recipe just divide the dough in 1/2 before making into balls.

1/3 c. butter (you could probably use margerine but I prefer the real thing)
2c. flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 c. cinnamon sugar
I use my Kitchenaid Mixer to do this but you could also use a pastry cutter/forks/knives/hands or whatever you have available.

Once the butter is all mixed in well and is crumbly add
1/2 cup of apple pie filling (mashed or run through a processor)
Mix this in and then add:
1/4 to 1/2 cup of milk, cow or soy works fine, keep the milk out you may need to adjust to get the right consistency.
You want your dough to be firm and slightly sticky.  Don't over mix it will be lumpy.
Too sticky add flour, too dry add milk.
Then on a cutting board put down some cinnamon sugar about 1/8c-1/4c.  Take your dough out and roll it around in the cinnamon sugar to coat a ball like shape. 
Flatten the Ball, sprinkle a little more cinnamon sugar on it and cut it into slices.

Place on your baking sheet/stone and cook for about 12 minutes.  Every stove is different the first time you make them keep an eye on them and note the time it takes for your specific oven and baking sheet choice. 

Serve with Fruit, our choice was Kiwi!  Let the munchkins eat! Breakfast with the cousins!

 Alex and Cory
 Hailey and Hannah (aka popeye)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Katherine's Spagetti Sauce

This might be a little difficult.  There is really no recipe.  It often depends on what is available in my pantry. It's for a bolognese of sorts, learned from an Italian woman in Indianola, Iowa.  In 1975. Weird.  I know.  The key to any good spaghetti sauce is long slow cooking and plenty of seasonings.  And chopped pepperoni.  Begin with onions and garlic and potentially bell peppers if you have them.  Saute them in olive oil until they are really caramelized.  Not just sort of mushy, but caramelized. If you want meat, at this point add whatever meat you prefer (we like good homegrown ground beef) and brown. Do not drain the grease. This is not for wussy health nuts.  Add the pepperoni -- a hefty couple of hands full. Add some juicy canned tomatoes, a couple of big cans and a can of ordinary tomato sauce.  At this juncture in life I have to use petite diced tomatoes because the grands are picky about chunks of tomato (oh who am I kidding, so is most of the family -- knotheads).  Add a little tomato paste for zingy tomato flavor and then liberally add the following:
red pepper flakes (well, don't be too liberal with these or your grandchildren will complain)
black pepper
2 bay leaves, at least (take these out later unless you want your grandchildren to completely freak out).
If you're feeling adventurous, put in a pinch of nutmeg.  I like nutmeg in everything.
I also usually add just a pinch of cayenne because I like things a smidge spicy (either that or I'm getting old and my taste buds are shot and I need the extra flavor to feel alive).
At this point in the project I am working solely on taste.  Bear in mind that things are going to meld and become richer and more flavorful as you simmer.  Simmer. A long time.  Like all afternoon.  Let it get good and thick and then add some broth (really any liquid will do -- you could probably even get away with a little white wine, but bear in mind it will evaporate and you'll need more broth sooner).  Simmer some more.  Add some more broth.  Taste and stir fairly often.  You house is going to smell divine.  Finally, cook your spaghetti and then -- this is key -- mix the sauce and spaghetti together and let them get good and comfortable with each other.  Serve with grated Parmesan.  We don't have to be snobby about this.
Does that help?  I am hopelessly bad about recipes and a chronic no-measurer.  When Christine moved out I had to hunt down some measuring utensils because I had lost mine.
Remember, practice makes perfect and while you are perfecting your recipe you are going to get to eat some darn good spaghetti.
**oh and you can also put in a little sugar if you like a sweeter sauce. I don't particularly.
** And, okay, not so liberal with the black pepper. You know, to taste, not to extremes.

Making Vanilla Extract

Well here it is, I took the afternoon off from working on the trailer mating to bring you today's "Whats on the table?".
Vanilla Extract (I just can't justify spending $10 for a tiny bottle of vanilla extract that I use quickly)

What you need: (this isn't rocket science or at least I certainly hope not)

Vodka, cheap
I also chose to try some rum too since I had it sitting around.  If you plan on making smaller bottles 1 big bottle of vodka would be fine.
I used 1, 1.75 liter bottle of vodka and about 3 cups of rum.  Give or take, I don't measure!

Vanilla Beans
I ordered mine from because I couldn't find any locally, but you can order them from Amazon and sometimes find them in grocery stores or at cosco.  I used 10 tahitian vanilla beans.

Glass preferable with a tight fitting lid.  I reused a vanilla bottle, the vodka bottle, the rum bottle and a wild vines bottle.  You can buy nice fancy new bottles, but hey, I am going for economical.
You have to wait 8 weeks.

I read several blogs and this months Martha Stewart and just kind of combined recipes and ideas.

Slice your beans lengthwise to help release the flavor, then I added roughly 1 bean per 1.5 cups of alcohol.  Basically I poured some of the vodka from the big bottle into the wild vines bottle and some of the rum into the vanilla bottle.  The Vodka and Wine bottle got 4 beans each and the rum bottle with about 1.5 c. of rum and the vanilla bottle each got one bean.

Label your bottles. I tried to remove the old labels but that was way to tedious so I just wrote on some sticky notes and placed them on the bottles.  Note the writing utensil was

Store in a cool dark place for 8 weeks. Then poof. Vanilla extract.  Once the beans are softened you can leave the beans in and gradually add more vodka to the bottle to replace what you use until you notice the vanilla flavor is not so flavorful anymore.  Then its time to do the process again with new beans.

Now a couple more tips, there are many different kinds of vanilla beans, this is my first try and I chose the tahitian because quite frankly they were on sale. You may want to experiment with alcohols and beans.  We would love to hear how your experiment goes. Our facebook page.