Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Apple Cider

Oh Utah fall, how my Washington heart loves you! To many people, Utah has a great climate. It's hot in the summer and pretty much beautiful everyday if you want to plan ahead for a barbecue or an outdoor wedding. The winter produces fresh snow almost daily for all the skiers and snowboarders. It is the perfect weather for the person who loves to do outdoor activities.

However, I am not a person like that. I wouldn't say that I'm not "fun", but maybe I'm not the typical kind of fun that most people think of. I love sweats and books and cuddles with my little baby. And I love warm comfort foods and drinks. But I don't like to be restricted indoors either and I'm not a huge fan of snow. So this is why fall is my favorite.

It's cold enough that it brings people closer together to get cozy. It also allows you to reasonably wear sweats to keep warm as well as to hide that extra layer of winter chub. The leaves are changing and the rare desert rainy days are not so rare.

If Utah was fall all year round then I might love it as much as my Pacific Northwest home. Unfortunately, it doesn't last that long, so Utah fall will remain a seasonal dessert that I can look forward to while I cope with the other extreme temperatures.

So enough of my brain skimmings. Here's the point: I made homemade cider.

It was really easy! And the result was a house that smelled like an orchard and a quart sized jar of cider swirling with spices. Here's the recipe:

Apple Cider
(makes one quart)

6 apples (it is best to have a variety of sweet and tart)
1 orange (optional)
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons lemon juice (less if you have an orange)
1 Tablespoon cinnamon, or two cinnamon sticks
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 pinch of nutmeg
enough water to cover

Slice apples and oranges and put them into a thick bottomed pot that has a lid. You don't have to worry about peeling or coring the fruit since you will be straining the mixture later. Add the sugar, lemon juice, and spices to the pot. Pour enough water to cover the fruit. The apples will float, so just remember where the water would have covered the fruit. You want to add enough water to maintain a good boil for an extended amount of time, but not so much that your cider turns out diluted.

Heat the mixture on the stove until it reaches a rolling boil. Allow it to boil for 30 minutes uncovered. Stir and mash the fruit as it becomes softer. Cover the pot and lower the temperature so it is a little more than a simmer. Stir and mash fruit occasionally and boil for 4 to 5 hours.

Remove from the heat and mash the fruit again. Strain through a cheesecloth, a handkerchief, or pantyhose. Taste and add more spices, sugar, or lemon juice as needed.



Monday, October 14, 2013

Easiest Kid Craft Ever

I've been meaning to do this forever. It's been on my Pinterest board for a long time, because it was so easy, even I could do it. Of course, I made it my own by totally making my letters colored and using magnetic rounds instead of strips. Wowza!

All you have to do is get those little wooden disks at Lowe's or Home Depot or whatever. Then you paint them, stick a little letter sticker on them, glue a magnet on the back, and you're done!
My four-year-old monkey decided not to go to bed whilst completing this project, so I put him to work with the magnets. He loved them right away.

He isn't wearing a shirt, because that's just how he rolls lately. He also has a thing for muscle shirts. I'm trying to pick my battles. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Fall Sauce

Right now I am re-reading Anne of Green Gables for probably my fifth time. Whenever I read this book, I seem to enjoy the seasons so much more. This time around my appreciation for nature and the changing seasons seems to be amplified. Maybe it's because I'm a new mom and I am constantly aware that I'm in the presence of a human that is experiencing everything for the first time. Or maybe it's because I am reading this book during the season where the mountains surrounding my house seem to be on fire with the changing leaves.

Whatever it is, autumn has hit me hard this year and I feel like I may never recover.

I am constantly dreaming of new concoctions that I could make with apples or pumpkin. Nutmeg and cloves call out to me from their shelf tucked away. So when I acquired an assortment of apples, pears, and peaches from my mom and grandma, I mentally drooled over the possibilities.

I was originally going to try to make homemade cider, but I didn't have any cheesecloth, and since the day was an I-may-never-get-out-of-my-sweats kind of a day, I decided to stay homebound and find something else equally blog-worthy.

With some prodding from my mom, I decided to make fall sauce. I can't exactly call it applesauce since it was an assortment of fruit, but it's the same basic idea. This was the best idea ever, because not only do I have a husband who loves applesauce, but I have a growing baby who will be able to eat this starter food soon. Who wouldn't want to save the money that they would have spent on baby food?

This recipe was pretty dang easy and it made my house smell magical.


10 medium apples (an assortment will add more layers to your sauce, but I just used Gala)
6 medium pears
2 large peaches
3 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
dash of cloves
dash of nutmeg

Wash, peel, and core all the fruit. Cut it into slices and place in a deep crock pot. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the fruit to keep it from browning. Mix regularly while cutting the fruit. Add the sugar and spices and set the crock pot on low for 6 hours. Stir every hour. After it's done, blend the fruit mixture with an emersion blender until desired consistency. This made a little more that 2 quart sized bottles.

You can continue on to can your sauce in a canner, but I just decided to freeze my extra bottle. Your refrigerated bottles will last up to 3 weeks.

This sauce turned out to be pretty yummy, if I say so myself. The mixture of fruit and spices really added depth to the sauce. It combined all the sweet, tart, and spicy tastes really well. It's mild enough to give to a baby, but not bland at all so an adult would enjoy it too.

This is a great way to take advantage of the fall apples and end of summer peaches!