Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Adventures in Slow-Cooking

I found the best unexpected slow-cooker recipe yet... Apple Butter! 

We have some friends that are part of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), and every month they get a box of farm fresh produce- what ever happens to be in season that month.  They were going to England to celebrate Christmas with family, and offered us their box for December.  In it were three types of winter squash, two bags of mixed greens, some cilantro (don't know how that was in season, but whatever), dried thyme, two bunches of carrots, and about half a dozen of red delicious apples.  Everything got picked off one by one until all that was left were the apples.  Don't ask me how they got left behind, lost in the shuffle I guess, but they started to soften a bit and I started going through the mental list of what to make with them.  Apple bread or muffins?  Apple sauce?  and then it hit me... Apple Butter!  Now, I love apple butter, but I am the only one in my house to eat the stuff so I usually don't buy it.  But I got a new canning pot (and utensils) on mega clearance this fall and took that as the perfect opportunity to try it all out.

The recipe made 8 1/2 pints (17 cups) of butter that is now canned and awaiting its ultimate purpose.  Some of it will go back to the couple that gave us the box.  The recipe is below!

All Day Apple Butter

5 1/2 pounds of apples peeled cored and finely chopped
4 cups white sugar*
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt

1.  Place all ingredients in a slow cooker, mix well, and set to cook on high covered for 1 hour.
2.  Turn cooker to low and cook for 9 to 11 hours (I went with 11 and did this overnight).

3.  Uncover and cook on low for another hour.

4.  Blend until desired consistency.

5.  Spoon into sterile containers, cover and refrigerate or freeze.  

* if your apples are super sweet you won't need nearly that amount of sugar.  My apples were a combo of red delicious, fugi, and galas, all pretty sweet apples so I cut the amount back to 3 cups and it was plenty sweet.  You can put in half the amount in and check it and added it as you feel need be. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011


I wasn't too ambitious this Christmas as far as crafting went.  Last year, I made every member in my family a hat.  Which really wasn't so bad.  This year, however, I decided this year I was going to cool it and give gifts that were already made ahead of time.  No frantic last-minute knitting, just relaxing and enjoying the season!  Here was what made it through...

Pattern: A Cloche Call  
Yarn: JoAnn Sensations Cosetta


Yarn: Katia Austral

Yarn: Premier Yarns Serenity Garden

I also hand-dyed some cotton yarn, but gave it away before taking pictures!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cabin Fever

If I had to describe my attitude in one phrase, it would be ''cabin fever''.  It has been so cold here lately, that going out, even to play in the back yard, is heavily debated, thought through, and deemed a bad idea.  I'm not sure that the temperatures have broken 25 in the last two weeks and the roof tops and lawns of the neighborhood are covered in a perpetual layer of frost.  We are confused since the sun is brightly shining, and the wind is not blowing.  It seems like it would be really nice outside.  But as soon as you open the door there is a blast of frigid air to greet you.

My son is going nuts.  Into everything.  Undoing everything.  Terrorizing the cats.  The only saving grace is he has his new Christmas toys to distract him, for about 15 minutes.  We've watched a lot of movies, which I hesitate to do lest he turn into a couch potato, but it's the only activity that we can do where he isn't getting into trouble every two minutes.

I've started about half a dozen ''home'' projects.  Cleaning out closets, cabinets, drawers.  Purging things that are too old and out-of-date to use.  But I am making little progress on those projects (see above statement about rascally toddler), so the house resembles more of a frat house than anything else.

As you can probably imagine, my crafting and cooking has suffered greatly.  The knitting sits in it's basket untouched and dinner has been reduced to McDonalds drive though and frozen or boxed meals.  I am hoping for the change to snap and for me to get my motivation and energy back.  Or at least for it to warm up enough that my son can spend half an hour outside running his little heart out.

Next time, I will share some of the little Christmas gifts I made.  It hasn't been a totally barren craft-land.