Friday, November 21, 2008

I'm finally back!

I'm finally back with that post I keep saying I'll make...

Let's start with the wonderful world of 4 year olds:
Me: We should just start calling you "Sierra, the omniscient"
Sierra: What's that?
Me: Omniscient means you know everything
Sierra: Well, I DO know everything!

(as we're waiting for a to-go order yesterday and a man with a full leg brace walks in)
Sierra (in her loudest voice): Momma, how did that man hurt his leg?
Me (whispering in her ear): Are you talking about people in front of them?
S: yes
M: are you supposed to do that?
S: no
M: what are you supposed to do?
S: wait until we get to the car and I can ask you questions if I have questions
[man proceeds to sit down about 5 feet away from us and Sierra stares at him]
M (again, whispering in her ear): Sierra, stop it
S (again, in her loudest voice): But momma! I'm not talking about him, I'm just looking!, fun times.

I've gotten much better at the machine quilting, but I don't have pictures yet b/c I haven't done the binding on any of them yet. Right now I'm working on one that my great-grandmother pieced when she was about 95 years old. It's a neat project, but she was all about functionality and didn't take the time to square up anything, so that makes the quilting a bit of a challenge. I decided to do stippling all over the quilt with invisible thread on top and thread that matches the quilt backing on bottom, so it all kind of blends in and doesn't take away from her quilt. Around the middle of the quilt, I "hid" my name and her name in the stippling, and that turned out well. I will have pictures eventually.

Other things...Josh's dad made huge progress on the kitchen while he was here and Josh has stained the trim and all that good stuff. Here's a picture of my countertop with actual edges to the front!

We've also been busy with fall canning. We ended up getting something like 55 pounds of apples and made plain ol' apples in syrup (12 pints), applesauce (4.5 qts), apple juice (1.5 qts--it was an experiment that came out really tasty, but we have ideas to increase yield next time), and dried apples (a gallon baggie of apple rings and two sandwich baggies of apples dices after they were dried). Some pics of that:
Josh manning in the apple pot:

Cooked apples ready for applesauce:

Collecting juice

Making sure the applesauce and apple juice are properly heated before canning:

Things we learned: It's probably more efficient to press the apples, let the sediment settle overnight (in the fridge), then collect the juice. The book said to let them sit in cheesecloth undisturbed, but that seemed pretty wasteful. When canning apples in syrup, do not over pack. When you first put the apples in the jar, then turn around to add syrup, the apples sort of "shrink down"--don't add more apples, it overfills the jar. With looser packing, we had very little problems with spill overs (one jar, opposed to every jar when they were more tightly packed). A good food processor makes quick work of making applesauce.

We've also been working on sweet potatoes. They were 20 cents a pound this week, which means a quart of home canned potatoes (even after you buy a new lid) is somewhere around 45 cents--WAY cheaper than the store bought stuff, or buying fresh out of season.

37 pounds of sweet potatoes ($7.40 worth!):

About 16 pounds of potatoes peeled, diced, and warming in extra-light syrup:

A picture of the canner b/c these things have to sit at 11 psi for 90 minutes, which gets boring:

The final product (one canner load anyway):

Things we learned....One canner load (7 qts and 1 pint, for us) is really more like 14 pounds of potatoes, not the 17-21 the book said. One of these days we'll get better about getting the appropriate head space and have fewer spillovers. Our jars always seal, but we frequently have small spill overs (you'll notice the liquid level is a little low in these).

Last weekend was also Josh's birthday. My mother in law and I made him a yummy cake that was featured on the cover of Bon Appetit this month---it was a
4 layer chocolate cake with dark chocolate ganache and white chocolate peppermint cream between each layer and a peppermint frosting. This thing had nearly 2 pounds of chocolate and a full quart of heavy whipping cream...and that was just the fillings. It was yummy, but too rich. One half of one slice was plenty. If I make it again, I'll leave off the frosting--it's really not needed and kinda takes away from the ganache and cream (which are yummier anyway):

I also made kolaches last week. Tried out a cream cheese filling for the first time, I think it came out yummy!

And last, but not least, the fall plant sale at TAMU was yesterday. We walked away with nearly 100 strawberry plants (yay!)


Karen said...

you are my hero when it comes to canning and food storage. I could take lessons from you. Everytime I read your posts I am amazed at how thrifty you are. I will get there...someday, hopefully next year will be better as far as thoes things go. LUV YA!

One Acre Homestead said...

I just got 7 lbs. of sweet potatoes for 25 cents per pound this week and 10 more pounds of apples at 75 cents per pound. Unfortunately, I am the only one at my house that likes sweet potatoes, or I would have bought WAY more. I haven't bought a pressure canner yet, so I'll be freezing mine.

As for the apples...probably some applesauce since we're set on apple butter for awhile! :-)

The Hills said...

LOL Yeah, we already had plenty of apple butter (and peach butter) on the shelf. I did end up finding golden delicious apples (perfect for applesauce) for 50 cents a pound, but they were pretty banged up and I had to really search to come up with enough apples in decent shape for that. Would still love to see the 3# bag for a $1 deal I got one week last year!!

HKHI said...

Love Josh's new hair style.

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