Friday, September 16, 2011

Apple Pie

Autumn is in the air and apples are coming in at the Farmer's Market!!!  The kids and I are so excited about the delicious things we are going to make this year.  We of course had to start with apple hand pies.  Last fall I was very inspired by this blog post at A Cozy Kitchen  

I diced up two honey crisp apples and one granny smith (Miss M's favorite).  A squeeze of lemon juice, 
1/4 C. sugar, dash of salt stirred around with the apples.  In another small bowl I mixed a tablespoon of flour, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice, 
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom and 1/8 teaspoon of clove.  Mix in the apples.  I wish that I would have used brown sugar but didn't think of it until I had already poured in the white sugar.
I totally cheated and used premade pie crust.  Pie crust is my enemy and I still can only get one in four to turn out well :(  The nifty tool came from Target it's by Nordic Ware.  The back side cuts the dough in the perfect sized circle.
I placed the dough in the pie mold and only about a tablespoon of apples fit in without tearing the crust.  Maybe if I had peeled the apples they wouldn't have been so sharp?

Out of two pie crusts I got five pies there should have been six but I tried to over stuff one with apples.  Before baking I cut small slits in the top for venting.  
They baked for about 25 minutes at 375 the whole house smelled of apple pie goodness.  We had ours with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce delicious!!
There were a ton of spiced apples left over (probably enough to make a full sized pie) so we saved them in the fridge and then used them up in oatmeal for school the next day.

Monday, September 12, 2011

DIY Fruit Leather

 Molly got a new issue of Food Network magazine this weekend.  In it was how to make your own fruit roll ups.  The kids decided that we NEEDED to do that!  We were headed to the farmer's market anyway so we grabbed some extra fruit while we were there.  I read through the Food Network recipe and realized that they used a lot of white sugar, not gonna' happen in my house.  The kids helped me pull out every book that might reference fruit leather and we sort of just did our own thing.  We had a pass/fail thing all at one time so we learned a lot in just one try. 
 We started with three pints of fresh raspberries rinsed off and put into a large pot.  Then we added about half a cup of raw honey, but we just eyeballed that.  Mush it up (this is the kids favorite part).  Cook the berry mush down until it starts to get sticky just like when you make jam. 
While it is cooking set your oven to 200 degrees and place parchment paper on some cookie sheets.  Lightly coat with oil or cooking spray (kinda important but not devastating if you forget).
Pour the sticky mess onto your covered cookie sheet in a nice even layer.  I found this bit tricky but if you have one of those off set frosting knives it is probably a lot easier. 
Bake for four hours and then start checking it as often as you think it needs it.  Like if it's super sticky forget about it for another hour or so. 
If you have two trays remember to check each one!!!  This is the mess that was left after my thinner tray burned it was a tragic mess.  Part way through I checked the bottoms of the sheets and then decided to flip over the leather for more even cooking.  That is were the oil would have been nice but it really wasn't horrible to get the parchment off just a little more time consuming. 
The slightly thicker tray was beautiful nice dark color texture was great everything.  I cut the leather into strips and Jeff wrapped them up in wax paper strips and twisted the ends like candy, very cute right?   
Jack said he loved the leather, Molly didn't like how tart it was.   Next we are going to try plums maybe that will be sweeter for her. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Snacky Bits

  I'm going to let you in on a secret, I'm not a big snacker.  It drives people crazy that I don't have a ton of snack foods around the house (including the ones living here!).   I don't really think to purchase or make snack foods very often because I'm more of a two square meals a day and coffee for breakfast kinda' gal.  Every once in a while though I will break down and feel like having something snacky and everyone gets happy :) 
This is a super simple Zucchini Hummus that we had after getting home from the county fair a little wind burned and definitely burned out on fried food.  If you have any zucchini hanging on in the garden try this for something to munch on.

Zucchini Hummus
1 can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans whateva')
    save the liquid when you drain them
a generous half cup of diced zucchini
juice from half a lemon
one clove of garlic (or two if you feel spicy)
1 1/2 TBSP Tahini
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBSP Olive Oil
a sprinkling of cumin

Place all ingredients in the food processor and blend until smooth adding the reserved liquid from the chickpeas as necessary.  Enjoy with pita/flat bread crackers or veggies!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Dried Apples

This past week we were gifted to grocery bags full of apples.  We got our dehydrator last summer and hadn't used it yet.  So we sliced up one bag of our apples and placed them in the dehydrator.  Just before bed Jeff played musical layers with them and put them in reverse order from were they started since the bottom ones were getting done much quicker than the top ones.  About 24 hours later the apples were done.  I"m not sure that we were the most efficient with how the vents were open but we don't have a manual and can't find one online (crazy right?) so we are winging this thing all the way!  What's in the jar is all that is left from what we started with mostly due to the kids eating them like candy, so much for stock piling supplies :)  Oh well at least they are going over well with everyone.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Garden deconstruction

 Over the weekend Jeff started deconstructing the garden.  The cucumbers had pretty much stopped producing and were completely out of control!  The zucchini plant was still going strong but with about 20 pounds of zucchini harvested from just one plant we felt that we don't need any more (especially since it seems to be all over the house right now).  Our poor pepper plants just didn't do well this year and I think that we only harvested about five peppers in total from six plants. 
 Last year we had tons of peppers from our plants I would like to figure out what happened because peppers are something that we use a lot of.   The jalapenos did very well and the Hungarian hot peppers are still going strong.  I have learned that licking them to see if they are hot or mild is not the best way to test peppers.  Yes I really did that but only once.  The squirrels got away with most of the watermelons, well we think it was squirrels but we don't know for sure.  We found this one under some of the freaking ground cover we can't seem to kill off.  I'm hoping it will grow to size before the frost hits.  You never know when that first frost is going to be here in Michigan tonight for instance it is supposed to get down to around 50 degrees. 
This is the one little squash thing that grew in the back garden.  We have no idea what it is but we are guessing it is an acorn squash.  The back garden was feral this year with only some seeds that Jeff threw at it out of sheer frustration at the late start to the growing season.  We haven't started any late season crops because we are hoping to get this whole area tilled up for next year before the ground gets hard.  The goal is to till it and get some good compost down for the winter.  I don't know why but it would make us feel an awful lot more ready for next spring. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

New Lawnmower

For the holiday weekend we spent a day at Jeff's family cottage with everyone.  We had a great time and the kids loved being with their cousins.  While up at the cottage we were given permission to bring home a lawnmower that had belonged to Jeff's great-grandfather.  It is still in good shape it just needs some tuning up and the blades sharpened.  It is definitely a work out to use it but should we loose power for an extended time we will have the best looking lawn in the neighborhood.  That would be a first for us!  As you may be able to tell cutting the grass is not one of our first priorities in life and if I could convince Jeff all that grass would be an edible landscape instead but he isn't buying into it just yet.  Maybe someday......