Friday, August 1, 2014

Applesauce


I am almost to the bottom of the basket of apples. (Bless you, roaming deer for eating the rest.) Thank goodness. I figured making applesauce would be a good way to use up a lot of apples. I've been making applesauce for years and have never given a thought to needing a recipe. But if you look up applesauce recipes online, there are a gazillion ways people make it. Most are fancier than my plain version. In my mind, applesauce is just cooked apples, mashed up. But fresh, homemade applesauce—even this plain kind—is just better than bought and easy enough to make in minutes.

This is great when you're in a hurry; when you need to use those last apples before they ruin; when you have a little one at your house and want to make a "treat." Little Sister had a dish of this for lunch and declared it, "Yummy!" 


Here is my "no recipe" recipe. You can do with whatever number of apples you have. (I might have four apples. I might have eight apples.) Sometimes I add cinnamon. But usually I'll stick to this very basic way of making it.

APPLESAUCE

apples, peeled and sliced into a saucepan
enough water to go about 1/3 of the way up the apples (don't cover them with water)
a squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
a little sugar to taste, if the apples are tart

Bring apples and water to a boil. Lower heat and put lid on the pan. Cook about 15-20 minutes, or until apples are soft. Watch the apples and add a little more water if needed. Or, remove the lid and cook a few more minutes, if necessary, to let the excess water cook out. If you have too much water left, dip some out. You don't want watery applesauce.

Mash apples with a fork or a potato masher until you get the texture you like. (I like mine chunky. Little Sister likes it smooth.)  Taste and add a spoonful of sugar if it needs it. 



Thursday, July 31, 2014

That's What Daddy-Os Do



One of the best new toys purchased this summer has been the pink fishing rod and reel (made by Shakespeare, so it's a real one.) It came with a practice casting plug on it instead of a hook. So Little Sister has worked and worked at casting and reeling in without fear of hooking herself. Or us. 

She has gone out several nights after supper to "fish" in the back yard. Last night I suggested she wait on Daddy-O in case she hung her line in a tree. That had happened a few times already. She told me that she was fine to go without him.

I told her to step away from the big pecan tree that's near the bottom of the steps. Then as she was walking out the door, she told me confidently, "Don't worry. If I hang it in the tree, Daddy-O will get it out. "Cause that's what Daddy-Os do." 





Wednesday, July 30, 2014

An Apple A Day


 I am still working my way through the basket of apples that Daddy-O and Little Sister picked. I only have a couple of days left to use them before they thrown out in the field. This apple crisp is my most used apple recipe in the last 30 years. I have made it so many, many times. I usually think of it as a fall or winter dessert but these apples were ready to be picked in the heat of summer.


Many of the apples from our trees and tomatotes from the garden would not win any beauty contest, but if you have the patience to peel and cut around the spots, they are delicious. In fact, there is a huge marketing campaign by a large supermarket in France to sell ugly fruit and vegetables at much cheaper prices than their beautiful fruit and veggie siblings. The ugly fruit is normally thrown away, often as it's picked. Because we have been conditioned to want the perfect fruit. All that food thrown away while people are hungry. Or, they are struggling with their food budget. That's just sad.

The marketing campaign is called "Inglorious Fruits & Vegetables." You can google it to read about it. Or, for one short article that quickly explains the basics, click the link below. Take a couple of minutes to watch the video. These folks are geniuses!

http://theoptimist.com/inglorious-fruits-vegetables-big-hit-france/


This recipe is a healthier choice than apple pie. (Especially if you leave off the ice cream.) Not much sugar. Not much butter. And it has whole grains in the oatmeal. Next time I think I'll use white whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose.

APPLE CRISP

Topping:
1/2 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons cold butter

Filling:
5 cups peeled & sliced apples
1/4 to 1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

In a small bowl, combine all topping ingredients, except butter. With a pastry cutter or fork, cut butter into other ingredients until mixture is crumbly. (This can be done ahead and refrigerated until ready to bake.)

Spray and 8-inch baking pan with PAM. Mix apples, brown sugar and cinnamon. Pour into pan. Sprinkle topping mix over apples.

Bake in preheated oven, 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Can top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.



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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Berry Easy Dessert


We don't make too many desserts normally, but since we've had a full house all summer, I have made more sweets than usual. I made this dessert last week because I had everything—all 3 ingredients—on hand. Plus, I was curious to see if it worked. It did.

While giving Baby Girl her bottle one night, I watched the red-headed lady on TV selling her "dump cake cookbook." "It's only $10, BUT WAIT......" I think by the end of the infomercial, there was another cookbook and a frying pan thrown into the deal. I surely don't need another cookbook or a frying pan.

So the next day I googled dump cake recipes. I remembered the dump cake everyone made years ago that had cherries, crushed pineapple, dry cake mix and a stick of butter. It was good. But this was different. No butter. I used a recipe I found online, then I made it with what I had on hand.


This is not a fancy dessert, but it didn't last long around here. Might be a recipe to keep handy for those times when you forgot you promised to take dessert to the covered dish dinner. Or, maybe...SUPRISE!...guests are on the way to your house.

BERRY DUMP "COBBLER"

1 box yellow cake mix (no pudding in the mix)
2 (12 oz.) or 1(16-oz.) bag of frozen berries (I used blueberries. Mixed berries would be good, too.)
12 oz. Sprite, 7-Up, or ginger ale (that's 1-1/2 cups)

Spray a 9x13-inch pan with PAM. Pour frozen berries into bottom on pan. (I used a 12-oz bag, plus part of another bag that I wanted to use up. Just make sure there is enough fruit  to cover the bottom of the pan.)

Break up any big lumps of cake mix. Sprinkle dry cake mix evenly over the berries. Slowly, pour the soda over the cake mix, trying to cover all of the cake mix. You might gently tilt the pan to make sure the soda covers all of the cake mix if you see dry spots. Any mix that doesn't have soda on top will still be powdery when baked. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes, until golden brown.


I know. I know. This is not going to win any healthy eating contest. I gave up drinking diet soda a year ago, but we do keep ginger ale on hand for tummy upsets. And while I don't use much cake mix, there is usually a box on my shelf for dessert emergencies. (Yes. There is such a thing as a "dessert emergency.") And the frozen berries.....well.....they were supposed to go into a smoothie. But that TV lady sold me on the idea, even if she didn't sell me the book!

I promise that Little Sister still thinks sliced apples are a good dessert, so we haven't ruined her completely.



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Monday, July 28, 2014

Simply Scrumptious


Two weeks left with the little ones here at the farm. Two weeks left with cooking between the tiaras and baby bottles and Legos and baby bibs on the kitchen counter. I've looked for easy recipes all summer that can be quickly put together while Little Sister and Baby Girl nap in the afternoon. Cooking might be easier in a couple of weeks, but it surely will be empty here in the kitchen.

My friend Carol slipped this recipe to me at church yesterday as we were going into the sanctuary. It's exactly the kind of recipe I want need right now. I've eaten this at her house, but I had not made it before. When we had lunch with friends last week, one of the girls said they had made a triple batch of this for a family trip (lots of family) to the beach early in the summer. The more we talked about this recipe, the more I remembered how good it was.

It's a great dish when you need something that can be made in a hurry. There isn't much cooking or chopping or measuring. Amounts of veggies don't have to be precise. (The recipe she brought to me didn't have any measurements for the vegetables other than "1 can." But I can hear my daughter asking me what size can, how much corn, so I added that.) You just put it together and then pop it into the refrigerator to let the vegetables absorb the flavor of the marinade. And, it will keep for one to two weeks in the refrigerator—if it lasts that long! 

I am blessed with friends who are all terrific cooks. I love it when I get a recipe from any of them. I did ask if I could share this one here. And Carol gave her blessing. We hope you enjoy these veggies, too.


CAROL'S MARINATED VEGGIES

1 (15.5 oz.) can light red kidney beans
1 (15.5 oz.) can black beans
1 (6.5 oz.) can mushroom stems & pieces
1 (8 oz.) can sliced water chestnuts
1 (2 oz. ) jar diced pimento
frozen white corn (amount about equal to the kidney beans)
frozen green peas (amount about equal to the kidney beans)
1 bag frozen shelled edamame beans, cooking according to package directions
1 rib celery, finely chopped (optional)

1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Drain and rinse canned vegetables. Cook and cool edamame beans. In a large bowl, mix drained beans, pimento, mushrooms, and water chestnuts. 
Combine oil, vinegar, sugar and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. When cool, pour over vegetables and refrigerate. Vegetables will keep in refrigerator for up to two weeks.


Yes, you add the corn and peas frozen. No cooking. I did cut the slices of water chestnuts into smaller pieces. I'm sure if there is something that you don't like here, you can leave it out

I live near a small town. A tiny town. I wasn't surprised that our grocery store didn't have shelled edamame beans. (Now, if you want a package of chicken feet or ham hocks, our store's got you covered.) I was happy to find them in the shell, so I cooked those in the steamer bag and it only took a few minutes to pop them out of the hulls.

Daddy-O walked through as I was making the photos. And of course, he had to sample. The veggies had only been in the marinade for minutes. He ate a big spoonful and said, "Mmmm, this is tasty!" Imagine how much better it will be in several hours.


He is going to miss his little shadow all too soon.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Cook And Carry


A good friend had surgery yesterday. She's back home today and I promised that I would bring a meal. Because the temperatures have hovered around 90 degrees all week, I thought a salad supper (or lunch if I can get out the door early enough) would be appropriate. Plus, it's all easy to make and nearly everything was done last night. Mornings around here are pretty busy with Baby Girl and Little Sister.

I called to make sure they liked chicken salad. Hope they like it the way I make it. I don't use a recipe, but I'm writing down what I did this time—this is how I make it for sandwiches. (I make several different ways.) This is the way that Big Sister likes it. I made buckets of it while I was on my extended stay in the midwest. She took it to school for lunch; she ate it for after school snacks; she ate it before bedtime if she was still hungry. She was always hungry.



CHICKEN SALAD

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (that's 1 package at my store)
1/2 - 1 teaspoon Lawry's seasoning salt (I just give it a good shake)
1 large rib celery, diced fine
1 medium red apple, diced (I leave the peel on for color)
1/2—3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
sprinkle of salt
a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice
enough Duke's mayonnaise (or other good quality mayo) to make it spreadable

Cook chicken in water with seasoning salt added until tender, about 40-45 minutes. Let cool in broth, until cool enough to handle. Chop chicken medium-fine. In a large bowl, add in celery, apple and cheese. Add in enough mayonnaise to make it spreadable. I start with 3 or 4 big tablespoons full and stir and then add more, one spoonful at a time, until I get the right amount. (Because chicken breasts and celery and apples are different sizes, it's hard to be precise with a mayo measurement.) Stir until well blended.


Here are the links to the meal we will deliver a little later today:

CHICKEN SALAD (recipe above)
GARDEN PASTA SALAD
APPLE COLE SLAW
CUCUMBER SALAD
BANANA NUT BREAD (for breakfast or a snack)
CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES (recipe on back of Nestle's Semi-Sweet chips bag)

I added a box of fancy crackers to enjoy with the chicken salad, if they don't make sandwiches. I hope they'll get a couple of meals from this delivery. Some of these recipes make enough that we also will have salad here. It's a win-win kind of cooking!


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Morning Chores

Work on the farm starts early, before the day heats up. 
So early that Little Sister went out in her pajamas to help Daddy-O with his chores.


 First, they deadheaded the daisies.


Next they picked apples. 
We have a deal with the deer that wander through here at night. 
The deer get to eat all the apples that are low hanging. 
And Daddy-O gets to pick whatever is left up high.


Daddy-O and granddaughter worked a long time 
and picked all the apples they could reach.


Then Little Sister hitched a ride to the back yard in the wheelbarrow.


They brought me a basket full of apples. 
Red ones from one tree. Green apples from the other tree.


My own part in this venture was to use the apples.
First was an apple pie. 
I need to use the rest of them soon.
I'm kind of glad the deer ate half of the apples.


But tonight we enjoyed the pie. With ice cream.

APPLE PIE

6 cups thinly sliced apples (6-8 medium apples)
3/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon lemon juice
pie crust for double crust (I used refrigerated pie crust)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place one pie crust in an ungreased 9-inch glass pie plate. Press firmly against sides and bottom.

In a large bowl, gently mix filling ingredients. Spoon into pie crust, mounding slightly. Top with second crust. Wrap top crust edge under bottom crust edge, pressing to seal. Flute edge. Cut slits in top crust.

Bake 40-45 minutes or until apples are tender and crust is golden brown Cover edge of pie crust with strips of foil after 15-20 minutes of baking to keep edges from over-browning. 

Cool for 2 to 3 hours before serving. 


Little Sister truly enjoyed the "fruits of her labor."


Baby Girl just wasn't interested in pie or apple picking at all.