All Done with Crab Apples - Here Come the Pickles . . .

5:31 PM Posted In Edit This 3 Comments »










Just a few quick photos to show off all of our hard work. We finally finished the Crab Apples on Wednesday last week, giving me exactly one day to get ready for the Asgaard Farms Art show and sale during the Music Heard Up North Concert.

Maxx was way into turning the crank for mashing the apples into sauce, though Molly wasn't really keen on that particular division of labor. She did most of the real mashing, allowing Maxx to participate only when things were pretty much done.

















We finished pickled apples on Tuesday and made sauce and jelly on Wednesday.













Apparently the sauce is REALLY good.




















The jelly is good on a PB&J sandwich or toast with butter. Tangy and just the right amount of sweet. Everyone wants me to make more but I've got people trying to give away cukes right now and everyone will want pickles, too so I'm saying enough is enough with the teeny apples. We will pick some big, wild apples this fall and make sauce with those because Maxx can eat applesauce 'till the cows come home.

What have I gotten myself into?

12:40 PM Posted In Edit This 0 Comments »
Still processing crab apples . . . . . .

Crab Apples

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Every year I start something like this and ask myself why. I have aton of work to do in both my shops, a craft fair to preparefor and holiday season fast approaching but I just can't seem to leave food alone. There is something about taking those finished jars out of the canner, lining them up on the table and waiting for the little "ping" that just warms my heart. My husband's appreciation for all manner of pickled and preserved vegetables and fruits add something to the appeal, as well. This time, the distraction was my brother's fault.

Nate called me out of the blue on Saturday and asked if I knew anyone who made Crab Apple Jelly. He said the tree in his yard was so loaded with little apples, he was afraid it was going to start losing limbs, did I want any. I said I would come and get some on Sunday afternoon and immediately went to get grandma's old Ball canning cookbook.

Silly me.

We spent 3 hours pulling little apples off that tree, which really was loaded. I've never seen so much fruit on a single plant before. It has been a great growing year - lots of sun and rain. I'm really grateful for that because it was nice way to spend some time with my brother. We rarely see each other because he works weird hours and our interests are completely different. He's a NASCAR and sports man, I play with beads and like role-playing/culture building games. It would be hard to play Settlers of Catan while watching the races, I think. Working with him brought back memories of stacking wood together down in the basement when we were kids. He is 6 years younger than me but was able to stack a stable row much faster. It must be a guy thing.

Anyway, I ended up bringing home 2 and 1/2 huge reuseable grocery/tote sacks full. Maxx and I washed them all this afternoon and now my kitchen table is piled right full of them. I thought I would give my back a rest and share some photos and a recipe before I get back to work on them. As you will see, Maxx petered out before everything was done.

The recipe I will use is from my grandma's Ball canning recipe book. I borrowed it sometime after she had her stroke and never returned it, which is good because it would have either been pillaged or burned by my plundering cousins. It is one of the few things my mom and I were able to salvage and to me it is a true treasure. I do not know its year of publication because the cover is missing but it does have color photos and the last page before the index states "Government regulations based on rubber and metal shortages prohibit the manufacture of the complete BALL line during the war, but There Will Always be a Ball Jar suitable for all methods of home canning."



Here's the recipe:
(text and directions altered to suit new language use and canning recommendations, ingredients list and preparation info remain the same.)

Crab Apple Pickle
1 gallon crab apples
6 - 8 cups sugar (depending on how sweet you want them)
3 cups water
4 cups vinegar
1 stick cinnamon
1 TBSP crushed ginger
1 TBSP whole Allspice
1/2 TBSP whole cloves

(I will be leaving out the cloves because both Molly Bryn and I have a strange reaction to cloves - we get sore throats that lasts for days within minutes of eating something spiced with cloves . A real bummer at Christmas Eve when everyone else is drinking Wassail.)

Wash and pierce each apple with a needle. Heat sugar, liquids and spices (tied in a bag) until sugar dissolves. Cool. Add apples and simmer until tender. Let stand for several hours or overnight. Pack cold apples into hot jars. Boil the sirup to the desired thickness and pour over the apples.

Since we live in an era of super bugs and wimpier intestinal tracts, I will be processing my quart jars for 20 minutes in a boiling water canner. Pint jars could be processed for 15 minutes and be safe. You can read more info about processing times at bellaonline. If you are unfamiliar with the process of canning food, you can open a PDF titled Let's Preserve, Caning Basics from U of Nebraska here.

So - off I go to make some dinner and pickle some crab apples. Tomorrow after the pickled ones have been processes, I will make Crab Apple Butter with the enormous amount of apples left over. I'll report back in a day or two to let you know how it goes.

















I hope Maxx wakes up before bedtime!

Balance?

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So it's 10:30 on a Sunday morning and I should be in Church, coaching my son on how to be be reverent and avoid the "naughty room" during Sacrament meeting, but I'm simply not up to it. Bryan and Molly are off with Jonathan on a canoe/hiking trip up to Big Eddy and the Seward range. They left on Friday and I'm already exhausted. Turns out, both the dog and Maxx are more anxious than I am about their absence so Ziggy keeps waking me up during the night with his anxious prowling and Maxx clambers out of bed fairly early, full of his special brand of tense energy. Not a good prescription for beginning the Sabbath Marathon, so I've elected to stay home and maybe visit my brother later today. He has lots of crab apples he wants me to take away from his tree.

Since I'm sitting around the house with a really good Sabbath excuse to avoid "Luna" work, I took some time to browse around Sharon B's In a Minute Ago blog. I've really missed having the time to read her blog and explore the amazing links she provides. I've also missed participating in the Take It Further challenge. June and July were a total wash for me, which is too bad. I really liked the color scheme in June. The color scheme this month is here. It is quite nice.














Her blog took me to some interesting places, this morning. The latest edition of CQ Magazine (online) is really interesting. It has a short but well illustrated article about painting a quilt block prior to adding embroidery embellishment. It is a very nice effect. Maybe someday I'll have time to try it.

Then there was a reprint of an article from the World Ark Magazine published by Heifer International about sericulture, the raising of silkworms and production of silk. I have been feeling really unhappy about working with silk because virtually all of the silk I use comes from China and I have been wondering how my support of the textile industry in China affects the many human rights abuses and vast environmental degradation sponsored by the Chinese government. This article made me feel much better about working in silk. Turns out that real human beings with families benefit from the production of silk and that there are cooperatives and NGOs that are using sericulture as a means of eliminating poverty in China. So I can lay aside my guilt and just continue to purchase my supplies from companies who buy from and support cooperatives and businesses that treat their workers fairly.

That article led me to the Heifer International website where I read an article about the Carbon Hoofprint. Please go read the article and, if you haven't already, take a look at my blog entries about agricultural environmental contamination and our attempts to clean our water. I continue to look for ways to change my Family's consumption habits so that I do support these industries as little as possible. We really need to get a cow.

But that will have to wait until I find some balance, which brings me back to the Take It Further Challenge. The theme for this month is Balance. Sharon asks us to consider the following statement, "In my chaotic and hectic life I often admire people who are able to maintain balance in their lives. What is balance to you? Do you maintain a balanced life? How do you balance aspects of your life? That is the challenge this month - balance."

I'll tell you , I have had no balance this summer. It all started at a retirement party for Bry's uncle where Maxx hit me in the back of the head with a big, heavy, green playground ball while I was siting and chatting with family. My neck and shoulders immediately seized up and a friend spent several minutes working on those tight muscles and I iced and rested for several days and thought I was going to be O.K. But I soon developed a tightly knotted rope running down the right side of my spine, headaches, insomnia and exhaustion. I finally broke down and went to see the chiropractor when I began developing intermittent dizziness and an inability to focus my eyes. (I know, I should have gone sooner.) He immediately diagnosed whiplash and spent several weeks straightening me out again.

The lack of energy and range of motion really set me back again, which seems to be a recurring theme in my life with Maxx. He is so much bigger and stronger and physically demanding than Molly was at 4 and he is sick every two or three weeks with viruses that he passes on to me. (I'm not sure where he gets these viruses, I believe he manufactures them himself. He is a walking biological weapons factory. I understand this is common with preemies.) Bry recently remarked that I am never well anymore, I am either incapacitated with feminine issues, injured as a result of Maxx tackling me or throwing something at me from behind or I'm sick with a virus that Maxx mixed up just for me. I'm gaining more weight and beginning to feel very much older than I should. The house has been a total pit all summer because Bry has been too busy and I've been too unwell to really clean. All of the wonderful inventory I was going to produce over summer vacation sits undyed, unassembled and jumbled together in my studio. The garden, with its wonderful French Intensive, double dug beds, has produced an admirable crop of pigweed and nettle. It is a very frustrating situation.

Here are the positives: We did get the beets wed at the right time, and have proven that these double dug, intensive beds will do their trick if we can maintain weed-free status until the vegetables are big enough to shade out the bad guys. Mint spreads relentlessly and now I can have all the peppermint tea I want for the rest of my life. I have discovered that summer squash will grow even in the midst of six foot high clumps of stinging nettle if they are planted at the edge of the nettle patch. And finally, I am developing a really good horse stance for when I hear Maxx running at me from across the room. He hasn't actually knocked me over yet, but the bulk of his weight (head and upper torso) is right at pelvis level for me. Did I mention the the chiropractor has to adjust my lower back, as well?

So balance is an issue for me, both literally and figuratively. How can I stay well, how can I become stronger and healthier? How can I get all my work done? How should I prioritize all of my responsibilities?

Those are the questions that nag me every day. Sometimes I think that having a full time job where I go away every day to priorities set in place by someone else and a regular paycheck to validate my efficiency would be easier. Or maybe I should just become a bee? they have pretty simple lives - collect nectar, make honey, feed the grubs, vibrate to keep the hive warm. . . . . maybe it's not so simple.























Anybody have any wisdom to share here about balance?
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