Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Salsa Before Sandy

I managed to finish processing 14 pints of Annie's Salsa before Sandy blew through and messed up the power. 

Hey, didn't we move up here to get away from crap like this???!!

Thursday, October 25, 2012


This is the view out my office window right now.


Friday, October 05, 2012

Caramel Apple Butter

This is an annual treat that I, hubby, and all my friends and family wait for. Caramel Apple Butter.

Could there be a more beautiful set of words? I think not!

Now, let me caveat to say this is NOT a USDA, Ball, Kerr or otherwise “approved” recipe, so use your own freedom of will to decide if you want to make this recipe for yourself or not. It’s controversial because Kraft caramels are added to the puree and melted down, so that’s that. I can say; however, I’ve made this recipe and canned it safely for several years and it’s a delicious treat.

With that said, let’s start canning! This recipe will make about 12 pints, so if you would like less, just halve the recipe for 6 pints or 12 half pints.

Start with a half bushel of apples (this came out to 14 lbs for my half bushel)

Peel and core the apples. Hopefully you have one of these nifty apple peelers! Add the peeled apples to a very large (or two) stockpot. Add about 2-3 inches of water or apple cider to the pot, bring to a boil, put a lid on the pot and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the apples are fork tender. Stir the apples about every 10 minutes to ensure even cooking.

Take the cooked apples with the water/juice and puree using a stick blender, food processor or blender.

Add apple puree to a large roasting pan. Traditionally, apple butter making is done on the stovetop, but who wants to dodge all those bubbling spurts of hot, molten apple butter blobs? Not me! I put my apple butter in a roasting pan and cook it in the oven, or in this case, I use my 18 quart Nesco roaster, which is a small, convenient oven in itself!

Add 2 cups of sugar for every 7 cups of apple puree (or to taste if you like it sweeter). In my case, I used 6 cups of white sugar.

Add 1 teaspoon of ground ginger, ½ teaspoon of ground cloves, and 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon to the puree. Cook the apple butter, with a lid propped on the roasting pan to allow for evaporation, at 300-350 degrees; stirring every 15-20 minutes to prevent burning.

Cook anywhere from 3-4 hours (or more or less) to where the apple butter will mound nicely on a spoon. 30 minutes before it is done, add 50 Kraft caramels to the mixture and keep stirring until melted and bubbly. If you are halving the recipe, add 25 Kraft caramels.

Ladle the hot apple butter mixture into prepared jars, leaving ½ inch headspace, and process for 10 minutes in a BWB.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Ugly Couch: Before and After

I have a confession to make, I love ugly furniture. Not just ANY kind of ugly furniture...it has to be furniture with potential to be beautiful. Lately, I've been following Emliy Henderson A LOT and she has inspired me to buy this ugly, neglected, chintz Duncan Phyfe nightmare:

I found it on Craigslist for $150. It weighed a ton (mahogany), it smelled, it was torn up in the back corners from someone's cat using it as a scratching post, and the frame was wobbly. I had a vision. I knew it had the potential to be something exceedingly wonderful.

After 5 weeks and $2K, we picked it up from the upholsterers last Friday. It is now drop-dead GORGEOUS! The material I selected is a light camel colored linen that really shows off all of her sexy curves. I know $2K is a lot of money, but it was worth every red cent. They basically had to redesign the sofa into a new style, and I dropped off little more than a pile of wood for them to work with.

I probably would have spent $2K for a nice, brand new sofa from a furniture store, but instead, I spent $2K on a sofa that would now sell for twice as much as that in an antique store and will outlast ANY brand new sofa that I could buy. Not to mention, I have something that is totally original from anything else I would have ever found in a store. Go me!

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